I have a confession to make.
I act like a spoiled baby when I'm sick. I whine and moan. I check my temperature every 30 minutes. I park myself in front of the television and expect my wife, Merry, to wait on me hand and foot. Never mind what plans she has for the evening—when I'm sick, her job is to take care of me.
But what happens when the roles are reversed, and she's stuck in bed with nausea, or vertigo, or a sinus infection?
I act like a spoiled baby. I whine and pout. I glare at her. How dare she get sick? Doesn't she know what plans I have? Doesn't she realize the pressure she's placing on me?
At some point during the evening, God convicts me of my selfishness, and I realize that I need to make a choice: Am I going to see Merry as my enemy? Or will I recognize again that God has given her to me as a gift … and stop moaning just because that gift has a fever and can't cook dinner?
You may not realize it, but you make the same choice on a regular basis. The choice confronts you when you argue … or when your spouse doesn't respond to your romantic overtures … or when you must decide who puts the kids to bed at night … or when you want to bake a batch of cookies and your spouse makes you feel guilty about your weight. Is my mate my enemy? Or a gift from God?
A life-changing perspective
If you've been to a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway, you probably recognized the phrase I've been using: "My mate is not my enemy." It's one of the key concepts from the conference, and I've always been intrigued by the number of people who mention this statement on their evaluation forms after the event is over.
One person commented, "We were able to see each other differently ... . We were able to recommit our lives together to God. We were able to address a long-time unresolved, silent, stuffed conflict with the hope of continued work on forgiveness and growth in our marriage together. I learned that my mate is not my enemy."
And then there was the husband who wrote, "Wow! My wife is not my enemy after all! I am actually made complete in her—she is God's manifestation of His idea of what is absent from my life. I cannot question anything about her because she was custom built just for me. God loved me so much that He gave ... me Joanna."
My mate is not my enemy. It's a perspective that will change the way you look at your marriage. And it's a choice spoiled babies like me face in some form nearly every day.
Copyright © 2006 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
1. If you feel like giving up on your marriage, read some encouraging stories of couples who once felt the same way.
2. Listen as Tim and Joy Downs tell Family Life Today® listeners how they made sense of their polar opposite differences. Then purchase the Downs’ book Fight Fair.
3. Register today for a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. Learn how to improve communication, build intimacy, and take your marriage to the next level!
4. FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.