Man, woman in marriage, we are the warring mechanism that keeps Satan in his defeated state. This isn't about, hey, God just wants you all to get along in your marriages so that you can reflect his image.
Yes, but your marriage needs to stay together and you need to fight together because you're the answer to Satan trying to overthrow the throne of God. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.
And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on the Family Life app. Our focus is family life today. Okay, here's a question for you. What do you think the number one thing married couples underestimate that's going to happen in their marriage? That it will be hard. Yeah.
Anything else? Oh, that's not right. I don't know. There's no right or wrong, but I wonder, is that first thing that came to your mind?
That's me too. That's what you would say? But I just read a book and we got the authors in the studio.
So now your answer is different. Well, I mean, they reminded me of something that I want to ask them about, is the spiritual battle. So you're saying that we underestimate the spiritual battle that's going on in our marriages. I think every couple does, including us, and we teach this stuff. I mean, honestly, we at The Weekend Remember Family Life, anybody who's been to it, The Weekend Remember, one of the big ideas of the weekend is there's an enemy of your marriage and it's not your spouse. And so we teach this, but you forget.
And we've got the Benhams in the studio. Jason Naturi wrote a book called Beauty in Battle. Even when I read the title, guys, I didn't know it was about the spiritual battle, but it is, right? Welcome to Family Life.
Hey, thanks for having us. As you think about the beauty in the battle, again, when I read that, here's what I thought. You're talking about conflict, which you do, and you have, man, your content on conflict is rich stuff. So here's your subtitle, Winning a Marriage by Waging a War. Now that is something couples don't understand. So explain, what do you mean, waging a war? Well, wait, tell us first, like, what do you guys do?
Why are you passionate about this? Well, we are business owners. And we've been married for 22 years now. 15 of those were really, really happy years.
A few weren't so happy. That's why we wrote a book. Seriously, did you get married really young? You guys look super young.
Yeah, we did, right? Like in your teens? 20s, early 20s.
Early 20s. That was us. That was us. Yeah. So we're entrepreneurs, business owners, but passionate about marriage.
Always been passionate about it. But what we discovered was exactly what you were talking about at the beginning, Dave, where you said that people underestimate the spiritual battle that goes on. What they really don't understand is that first marriage that was created, that God created between Adam and Eve, there was a wedding crasher.
He was there and he wanted to turn into a marriage smasher and he knew exactly how to do it to try to get them operating independently of each other. You said that a few times. Wedding crasher, wedding smasher.
No, you said that wrong. And I'm glad I can point that out. Wedding crasher turned into marriage smasher.
Oh, marriage smasher. I like that. That is good. I like that we are former pro athletes here, able to go back and forth with each other.
I'll take that. I'm a pro athlete. Yeah, that's it.
College athlete, you're good enough. Well, I mean, think about that scenario with Adam and Eve in the garden is lived out in every home. Is that what you're saying?
Yes. And I recognize that the very fight that we experience in our relationship, God made us for it. The first sin was not when Eve and Adam ate the fruit. It was when Lucifer in heaven wanted God's throne. And so God kicks him out of heaven. Well, where did he put him? Earth. Then God creates someone lesser than the angels in his own image and where does he put him?
The same spot. He just put his banished foe. I hadn't really thought of that before. Well, just think about that. He's purposely putting them together. You know what I love?
Jason walks in the studio. He puts us on the spot. Where did he put him? You tell me. You need your own podcast. So here's a question for you, Ann. What would be worse if I kicked your husband's butt right here in the studio or if I brought my 12-year-old daughter, Lundy, who's with us, and I brought her in here and had her do it? That would be worse.
That would be worse. And what God did when he creates Adam is he's like, I don't want to just defeat Satan. I want to humiliate him in the defeat. So I'm going to make somebody less than me and less than him in my own image. I'm going to put him on the earth and he's the one who's going to overtake Satan.
And so not only will Satan be defeated once and for all and ultimately destroyed, but he'll be humiliated in the process. Now that was plan A because we know the first Adam messed it up. So the second Adam, Jesus had to come fix up what the first Adam messed up. But God knew that when he gave Adam authority over the garden and he gave him authority and dominion over the earth, he knew that Satan was on the earth and wanted that authority. So he had to outfit him for the battle. And so how did he do it? He gave him a bride. He introduced marriage.
Why? Because marriage is the most organic form of church and Satan wages war against the church and the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. So God created a warring mechanism to defeat Satan. And when we enter that battle, what happens is the same fight that once tore us apart, those conflicts that we face every day, when we learn to fight shoulder to shoulder against the real enemy, no longer face to face against our spouse, fighting together draws us together. That's why we wrote the book. How did you guys discover that? Like for you Tori, was there a day where you thought, or you guys even talked about this concept before you got married or newly married?
Yeah. Well, you guys asked how we got into this really, when Jason and I were dating, he's playing professional baseball and in the off season, he's an activator. He's like, I've got too much time on my hands. We're learning about marriage. We're reading a ton of marriage books together. He's like, you know what?
I'm going to kill two birds with one stone. I'm going to go get my master's degree in marriage and family. So as he was getting his degree, he's sharing all the notes with me. He's calling me, telling me all these things. We're like, oh, this is awesome.
We're going to have like the edge. When we get married, we're going to know so much. Well, you know, it's so much easier on paper and it was so hard those first couple of years. But what that marriage degree did is it brought a ton of young couples into our home because they heard that Jason had this degree.
And so it wasn't the degree that helped us. It was the couples that were coming in and asking us for help that really got our focus on marriage. Like, wait, we struggle the same way. We have the same exact conflicts. Like, we're all so much alike and we began to like, just our focus became on what are we doing? Like, how are we going to fight this thing the right way?
And then there was a moment for us, an aha moment for us, where we really saw the battle for what it was. And it was Jason and I do CrossFit, we've been doing it for years and years. So Jason and I were doing CrossFit. Typically during the week, you work as an individual.
So you look at the workout and you're trying to get to the top of the board. But then on Saturdays, it's Team WAD Day. And we love Team WAD Saturdays because Jason played sports, I played sports, and we love working as a team.
And the first two Saturdays, Jason and I were put on the same team. And we actually... Lucky Tory. Lucky Tory. It was kind of lucky Tory.
I don't know, Jason. I'm looking at her thinking, I think she probably was better at this. She's in some shape.
I'm just guessing. She's a good boxer. So we get in there and we win the workout. And we're like kind of shocked, but we figured out a way to strategize. And we won.
And then on Saturday, we go in, we win it again. And we're like, this is amazing. Like how many people are you beating? We're like the first at our CrossFit gym. So this is like, you know, there's probably like 15 at this point.
It's not that big of a deal. But to us, it was like, this is fun because when you win, it entices you, it makes you want to come back for more. There's something about winning together that makes you want to do it again. What did you compete in as an athlete? Growing up, I've just played volleyball in high school, but I loved it.
I actually played pretty much all the sports, but volleyball was my favorite. And so here we are, we won together two weeks in a row. And this is something that we learned is that winning together draws you together. Winning together makes you want to come back for more. So we come back the next Saturday and we find ourselves thinking, I hope he puts us on the same team again because we can do this. Like we can figure this thing out.
So he calls out Jason and Tori and I'm like, yes, we're going to win again. And so we start strategizing how we're going to win this workout. And we're strategizing our strengths and our weaknesses. We know how to win. So we're just doing it again.
We're like planning it out the way we did it the last couple of weeks. And Jason and I are strategizing and the workout begins and Jason's like yelling at me across the room. Like it's way too intense. Everyone else is like, this is CrossFit.
Like why are you guys, what is going on here? It was so intense. And we were like, there was no offense. I was not offended by the way he was talking to me because I knew he was in it to win it.
I was in it to win it. So there, you know, we're on the same page and he's yelling at me and I'm yelling at him. We have difference in opinion on how we're doing it, but we just plow through and we win the workout. And at the end of the workout, we're like fist bumping. We're like, that was amazing. And we get in the car and I'm like, isn't it funny? Like my wheels are starting to turn.
I think that the Lord, this was the beginning of the Lord changing our paradigm. And I was like, what is it about CrossFit that you and I can talk to each other like that with such intensity? And I never get offended. You never get offended with me. We're like united.
What do you think it is? Like if you talk to me at home, you'd be in the doghouse. If he talked to you like that.
At home. With that intensity. Exactly. Yeah. Intenseness.
I would be so offended. And I remember Jason just kind of paused. And before we pulled into the driveway, it's like, yeah, I mean, it just makes sense. We're strategizing our strengths and weaknesses. We know that we have the same goal. We know that we can win. We've won before.
If we just strategize our strengths and weaknesses, we can do it again. Like for us to get offended in the middle of that would just be stupid. He said stupid.
The word is stupid. And I remember just a few moments later, we walked into our house where we have four kids, little mini Jason and Tori's, which is a dynamic for sure. Lucky kids. And they were fighting and Jason started dealing with the situation. I did not like the way that he was talking to my kids. And so... Now they're your kids. They're my kids. And Jason and I end up face to face just going at it.
And we go into the master bedroom because we don't try to get away from our kids. And it just hit me like a ton of bricks. And I said, babe, we just talked about this. Like we literally just talked about it.
We know how to win in CrossFit, but we don't know how to win at home. Like there's a big problem here. And I remember Jason just literally, it was like in a moment he switched and I'm like, you're not my enemy. You are not my enemy. And I remember Jason's like, you're not my enemy. We're going to figure this thing out. And from that moment on, it was like everything changed when your perspective changed. His dad always says, how you see the battle determines how you fight the battle. And from that day on, we began to fight differently. And you know what we discovered? The beauty of marriage is discovered when couples choose to no longer fight against each other face to face in a personal war, but alongside one another in a spiritual battle. That's when it dawned on me.
I was like, okay, so if it worked in CrossFit, it can work here. Satan must have been sitting there laughing when he saw me and Tori fighting face to face. What's our ultimate goal? Our ultimate goal is for the hearts and souls of our kids. We want them to grow up to love Jesus.
We want to have a great thriving relationship. Well Satan doesn't want that. He knows that if we fight shoulder to shoulder against him, we can get those things. But if we fight face to face, then we operate independently. It's like we're in this foxhole. There's the enemy. Yeah. Right? And he's just sort of laughing because the two in the foxhole have their guns pointed at each other. And he's like, they don't even realize I'm out here. And they don't realize how powerful they are together.
Yes. You guys are way better than us because we fight when we compete too. We don't need to go there.
I'm an idiot. I am not. I would love to be a fly on the wall for one of y'all's fights. It could be some fun. I think couples are listening thinking, I want that. We definitely want that, but it's so hard when I see my husband, dot, dot, dot, or my wife, dot, dot, dot. But I mean, what you said, I think it starts with new eyes.
Yes. It's a mindset. Which is one of your chapters, which is I've got to understand there's a spiritual battle. When we teach this at the weekend to remember, I'll say, turn to your spouse and say, you're not my enemy. And there are every conference, whether there's 500 people or 2,000, people look at me like this. They'll cross their arms.
Arms full of stuff. Yeah. And I'm like, you don't understand in our marriage. She is. He is. Yeah.
I'm not going to do it. And then there's others like, oh my goodness. That's a whole, we went to the weekend to remember that we now spoke for 30 years as an engaged couple. Two weeks before our wedding. That's awesome. Long story short, they taught this. First time I ever heard there's a spiritual battle. Marriage is the 50 yard line of a war between Satan and God.
That's right. And that's why your marriage is so critical. We a few months later, I'll share this to her.
Christ shared it years ago on Family Life, or at her uncle's in Wyoming visiting. He leaves for the day because he's working. I get up early, walk around and I go down in his den and I find Playboy magazines. And I look at one and I put it away. I come up. Probably a half hour later, we're in the bedroom. We get in some huge fight, so bad that I'm like, I'm out. And I walk out of the bedroom and she yells from the bedroom.
I can remember it like yesterday, it was 42 years ago. She goes, why are we fighting each other? We should be fighting the enemy. Which I'm immediately mad because she's bringing out truth that we both heard a few months earlier. She's more spiritual than you.
Exactly. And I'm like, I'm literally like, she's right. But it took everything in my soul to go back in that bedroom and say, you're right. Let's talk.
Think about this though. When you think about the pieces of that story, think about what I was doing an hour before that fight. Talk about the enemy. And I'm not blaming him. I made a choice.
I made a bad choice. But that whole day was there's an enemy that's going to use all kinds of things to put a wedge between this because of a married husband and wife understand what they're doing. They're going to enter that battle and make damage.
But if he can split us, he says to the world, Christ doesn't make any difference. So you guys, I mean, was that like a revelation and everything just good? I think for us it was having a winning mindset. Like in CrossFit, the more we won, the more enticing it was to come back. Because it gives you hope.
I did it before. I think we can do it again. And for us, it was like, we just need more wins.
We just need to get a couple wins under our belt to know that there's hope that we can do this. And I think that was the beginning. That was a win for us that we shifted positions from fighting face to face to fighting shoulder to shoulder. And then it was the next time it was like, we did it before. Let's do it again. We did it before. Let's do it again.
And it was trying to get some wins under our belt. And how you see determines how you behave. How you see yourself determines how you conduct yourself and how you see others determines how you treat others. How you're thinking about your spouse.
The warfare for your soul takes place on the battleground of your mind. You have to change your mind's eye. And once you change that, everything else changes. So how do you change it?
Well, it starts with getting in touch with a God who created your eyes in the first place. So there's the story. You ever read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People? Okay, so many people have read that book, but he tells a story of how he was on a subway train, Stephen Cuppy was. And he's reading this Wall Street Journal, and he's busy, he's going to the next thing. And his dad gets on to the subway car with three of his kids, and then they start misbehaving. And then he's just sick of it.
He slams down his paper. He's like, hey, don't you think you can get control of your kids bothering everybody? He said, this man looks up with tears in his eyes and says, I'm really sorry about that. They don't know exactly how to behave right now.
And to be honest, I don't either. We just came from the hospital where their mother died. And we don't know what to do. Stephen Cuppy said in that moment, he went from this agitated passenger to this grieving father. And he's like, here's a grieving father.
I want to grieve with him. It's like instantly he said, well, how can I help? You see, nothing about the situation had changed.
But now everything was different. My dad was a pastor in Dallas, Texas, which is the home of God's favorite football team. And everybody who knows football understands this. It's not Detroit?
No, it's not. But I did hear about that Detroit quarterback. Apparently, he couldn't get into his house the other day.
It looks like somebody painted an end zone in his front yard and he was not getting in there. You know, I've heard every Detroit Lions joke ever. I've never heard that one. Well, you can use that one. That's pretty good. That's pretty good.
So my dad was a pastor in Dallas, Texas. And for Christmas one year, one of his members gave him this 3D random dot stereogram. You guys know what those are. They're the picture things that have just a bunch of dots and you can't see anything.
I hate those things. I can never see what I can't see. Well, I can't either. Well, yes. But you didn't get the Jerry Axe version.
If you ever got that, you could have seen it. No, just kidding. No, just kidding. So we're athletes here.
We could bust on each other. So she gave him this framed picture, eight and a half by 11 or whatever. And it's just dots. And every week she would say, Flip, you know, his name is Flip, Pastor Flip, did you see the picture? And he's like, no, you know, I didn't see it. And then before he went in to preach this one week, he said, I just sat down and decided, I'm going to see this thing.
He couldn't see anything. And then he just relaxed his eyes and then boom, out of the middle of nowhere, it was Calvary. It was three crosses on a hill. And he said, from that day forward, every time he looked at that picture, he saw the crosses. He could never unsee it. But it took time for him to relax, look at it and go into it.
But he was able to see through the dots. You see, what Tori and I did with our book was we opened up the spiritual battle and let you see what's happening. Even Ann at the beginning, when I said, where did God put Satan? He put him on the earth. Well, where did he put Adam?
On the earth. And we don't know that God gave Adam a heads up that there was an enemy there that wanted the authority that he had. Just knowing that God put them in the exact same spot tells us he made us for a fight.
And how did he outfit Adam for the battle? He gave him a woman. He gave him a bride, man, woman in marriage. We are the warring mechanism that keeps Satan in his defeated state. This isn't about, hey, God just wants you all to get along in your marriages so that you can reflect his image. Yes, but your marriage needs to stay together and you need to fight together because you're the answer to Satan trying to overthrow the throne of God. How did Jesus come into the world?
He had a mom and a dad, obviously his heavenly father was the ultimate father, but we see Jesus coming in as the second Adam. So when we recognize the spiritual battle like that, and you see it like that, here's the beauty. You can never unsee it in the same way that Tori and I did. We're fighting against each other right after CrossFit, but we had seen it in that moment. And she said, we bit the bait.
We did it. Jason, you're not my enemy. I'm like, you're my, oh wait, you're right Tori, Satan is watching right now and just laughing at us.
Let's go shoulder to shoulder and fight against him. And you know, when it really takes off and it's like marriage on steroids is when you start using this with your kids. What do you mean?
What's that look like? Tori's got a story about how you did it with our daughter, Allie. You were asking like, there are so many times where it's so hard to make that shift, like emotions are high and it is not easy. Sometimes you don't want to. You don't want to.
It's like, I'd rather just fight with you. I know. Exactly. You're right here. You've got to have a will to say, okay, I got to submit, right? Yes.
Yeah. And we're always looking for a target. When you just want to fight, Tori, she teaches women this all the time. You have to ask yourself, what do you ultimately want? Think about not what you want in the moment, but what you ultimately want.
You may win the battle, but you haven't won the war. Yes. I like Amy. I do too.
That's good. So Tori, jump into your story. So with my daughter, Allie, she's now 18, she was 12 years old. I was homeschooling her and it was just the most challenging season of my life. Jason was traveling all the time and me and Allie were just going head to head all the time. And one particular afternoon she and I were fighting and I couldn't get her to listen about all her schoolwork and I was clearly her enemy and she had become mine.
And she was being disrespectful. So I said, get up to your room. I don't even know what to do with you. Just go to your room.
So she storms up to her room, like a herd of elephants. And I find myself just like crushing goldfish, like stress eating. I have no idea what to do. And I cry out to the Holy Spirit. I'm like, you're supposed to be the helper.
So I need your help. And I just remember sitting there and the Holy Spirit said, she's not your enemy. You've made her your enemy. She's not your enemy. And I remember as mad as I was at Allie, I got mad at the enemy, the real enemy. And I stormed up those stairs, just as like Allie had just stormed up the stairs. And I said, you're not my enemy, Allie.
We have bit the bait. Like I am so sorry. I have made you my enemy.
I think that you've made me yours. And I said, and we're doing this all wrong. And I began to explain the spiritual battle and she was a strong willed, hormonal, 12 year old girl. I'm like, she's not gonna, she's gonna be like, mom, you're crazy.
But she didn't. And I shifted and like hot tears came down her face and she showed me that if a 12 year old hormonal adolescent could shift positions like that, then I can do it too. It was like, there's so many times Jason's like, you're not my enemy.
I'm like, you're mine. You're saying as a family, this is something you can talk about and what that could even look like being one way and then being the other way. That'd be an interesting discussion, wouldn't it?
Yes. It's interesting. Jesus then goes to his disciples and he says, Hey, I'm sending you out of sheep among wolves. What does that tell you? It tells you that at first, if you're sheep among sheep, you're going to end up stupid. So second, we got to get you out into the, where the wolves are and the wolves want to take you down. So when we recognize this, this battle, the spiritual battle and how it draws us together in our relationship together, we've also started to teach our kids that and now their eyes have been opened to it and our kids are perfect.
They never do anything wrong. No, it's definitely not easy. But you know, here's what's so beautiful about this is that when you choose to fight this battle together, it draws you together because fighting together draws you together. You guys remember where you were on 9-11-2001? Oh yeah. You guys remember where you were?
Yeah. You know, Tori and I had been married for nine months at that point and I remember seeing on live TV people jumping out of the buildings when the hijackers crashed into the World Trade Center and it's the only time where I watched the news and literally I had tears streaming down my face. But you know what was interesting about that?
Having been married for nine months at that point, it wasn't the images of the people dying and going through all of that stuff that set into my mind so much. It was what happened in two or three weeks after that. When you saw every American dropped their differences, you had Republicans and Democrats, you know, we had senators that hated each other standing on the steps of the Capitol singing God Bless America. You had entire sports leagues where the teams before the game would lock arm in arm before a game.
I mean, this never happens. You had Red Sox fans actually hugging Yankees fans. I mean, it was crazy stuff. But what happened in that moment was that our eyes were opened to the fact that we were in a fight. At that point, none of us had even really ever heard the name Osama bin Laden. But now all of a sudden we realized we had an enemy and he's out there.
He's not in here. And now he's coming in here and we have to stick together. It was that camaraderie that we all had. That's the principle. That's the principle that God has made. That's why he sends you out of sheep among wolves. Because he knows that when sheep get among wolves, when you open your eyes to the battle, the sheep draw close together. And then we recognize there's a lion in the sheep, you know, and that lion will overtake any wolf that comes. And God has given every believer that heart of a warrior, you just have to open your eyes to the battle.
And when you do, you'll draw closer to your spouse than you've ever drawn before. So as we close, what is our application? You said open your eyes. How do we do that?
What's that look like? Well, it's recognizing that you are in this spiritual battle. So opening your eyes is, and this is what we challenge couples to do. Get on your knees tonight before you go to bed or early the next morning, hold hands together and ask God, God, what are you trying to tell me about the battle? And then just start paying attention to ways that Satan will use conflict in your marriage to tear you apart.
And then recognizing how God takes that same conflict to draw you together. Like I'll give you an example. Tori makes these incredible ranger cookies. They're like healthy chocolate chip cookies. And she takes all the ingredients, she puts it on the table. You've got flour, you got sugar, you got eggs, you got all sorts of stuff. I would never take a spoonful of flour and eat it. Right?
I'd never take a spoonful of sugar. What do you have to do? You have to take all those individual ingredients and put them together into a bowl and blend them together and put them into conflict. And they become something better together on the other side of that bowl of conflict.
Right? And it nourishes people. This bowl of conflict is earth.
He puts husbands and wives on earth and then he mixes us together. That's what conflict is. Conflict is meant for connection. It's the opportunity to turn me into we.
So if we embrace conflict and we don't run from it, opening our eyes to recognizing God put us here, we're experiencing this conflict so that we can be stronger on the other side. That's how we open our eyes to it. And that's how we can, we can draw closer.
Yeah, Jason, when you were saying that I was like seeing a drone up above planet earth. And I literally had this thought, would it be so cool to see all these couples tonight because they listened to what you just said, grabbing each other's hand. Maybe they've never done this or maybe they haven't done it in 10 years and got on their knees and said, okay, Jesus, we need your eyes.
We need you. We're going to pray together as a couple. Maybe she can't pray. Maybe he can't pray, but you still do it together.
I just saw this drone, like what would happen if that was taking place in homes? That would be a beautiful thing. Or even a single mom grabbing the hands of her kids that can understand this, you know, of like, Hey, we're in this together. We're going to fight the battle together. And fighting together draws you together.
You're listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Jason and Tori Benham on Family Life Today. Their book is called Beauty in Battle, Winning in Marriage by Waging a War. You can pick up a copy at familylifetoday.com and help your marriage to thrive. You know, we want our marriages to thrive. We really do in our heart of hearts. And that's one of the reasons that Family Life's Weekend to Remember Getaways exists. What if I told you that the foundation of your marriage wasn't all on you to figure out?
Well, God has laid it out completely, but sometimes we don't know how to give our marriages the attention they deserve. Well, whether you stay close to home or jet off somewhere new, Weekend to Remember is happening all over the country. Why don't you take three days and let your focus be on each other.
There's no need to wait any longer to make a change for the better. Take a weekend with your spouse and learn about what the true meaning of your marriage is supposed to be. And if you register this week, the two of you can experience this incredible event for over 40% off. You can find out more by going to familylifetoday.com, scrolling down, and clicking on the Weekend to Remember Getaway link. Again, that's familylifetoday.com. Well, maybe you're married and you have come to realize that the spark is just dead.
Or is it? Well, tomorrow Dave and Anne are joined again by Jason and Tori Benham to tell the story of revitalizing their marriage and how maybe you can learn from their revitalization. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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