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Fighting The Spiritual Battle for Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
June 29, 2022 6:00 am

Fighting The Spiritual Battle for Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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June 29, 2022 6:00 am

Jason and Tori Benham struggled with conflict until they realized marriage is a spiritual battle. Fighting together for their marriage rather than against each other transformed their relationship. In this conversation, you’ll hear practical tips about working through conflict, overcoming destructive thought patterns towards your spouse, and reigniting godly jealousy for your husband or wife.

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But in the mornings, I was getting up and praying really hard over my business and God was blessing it and I was passionate about it and things were going really well.

Then one morning as I was praying for my business, the Lord convicted me. It was like, are you enjoying your relationship with your wife as much as you're enjoying what you're experiencing in business? Jason Benham joins us today on Focus on the Family along with his wife Tori, and they're going to share how with God's help they've grown closer in marriage through conflict.

Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. John, whether you've been married for two years or 20 years or maybe a little longer, like in our case, you're going to have disagreements from time to time with your spouse. It's crucial to recognize another factor in conflict. There's a spiritual war going on in your relationship and that's actually a healthy place to realize what's going on. In the American church, we tend to under-emphasize the role of spiritual warfare. Scripture's clear though. You have a real enemy who is working to undermine God's design and that's for your life, your relationship, starting with your spouse. Ephesians 6-12 says, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood.

It feels like it, but it goes on to say, but against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places. Our guest today will share the important reminder that a godly marriage is a target. We're all under attack at some level in our marriages. Just this morning, Jim, before I left, I looked at my wife. I said, I don't know where we went from happy to some conflict before I leave here, but I've got to leave. I'm on your team. She looked at me and she said, it's not you, it's me.

I'm just struggling right now. I thought, oh, there is something bigger here because I really don't want to be struggling against her. I'm so glad we have Jason and Tori Benham here. It's intervention time. It is.

For all of us, right? We all need these reminders that there's something outside of us that wants to tear us apart. Jason and Tori have been on the broadcast before. Jason with his twin brother, David, today, a much better looking counterpart. Tori, you've been married for 20 years. They have four children. They have several businesses and they've written a book about some of their journey.

It's called Beauty in Battle, Winning in Marriage by Waging a War. You can get your copy of that from us here at the ministry. The link is in the program notes or call 800 the letter A and the word family. Jason and Tori, welcome to Focus. Welcome back. Thank you. Good to be here. Yes, we're so glad to be here.

It is good. We alluded to it already, but why is it so important for couples to be aware of the spiritual battle going on? It's so easy to fall into the worldly stuff, right? She said, what? You said, what? Rather than going, okay, someone's stirring our hearts here in the wrong direction.

Yeah. You know, my dad always used to say that how you see the battle determines how you fight it. So John, I look back at what you just said about you and your wife having a little disagreement this morning. And I think in that moment, what Satan wants more than anything is to get you fighting face to face against each other rather than shoulder to shoulder against him, right? He wants you tied up in a personal battle rather than engaged together as teammates in a spiritual war. And we see this all throughout Scripture, especially there right at the beginning of Genesis. You know, when Satan was up in heaven and he was an angel – of course, he was Lucifer then – he wanted God's authority. He wanted the throne. And what did God do? He obviously wasn't going to fight him, so he sent Michael the archangel to fight him.

And they ended up getting into this scrummy. And sure enough, Satan loses and gets cast down to earth. And then God decides that he's going to make a man. And where did he put him?

In the same spot that he just put his banished foe. And then God didn't give Adam, as far as we know, any heads up that Satan was there. And God also didn't have Eve alongside him. He let Adam go on his own there and have to deal with taking dominion over the garden without his counterpart.

And of course, we know why, because he wanted to make sure that Adam knew that he needed her. And then God gives Eve to Adam. And the whole time, though, Satan is watching this, and Satan has yet to pounce, because Satan wants that authority that Adam has. And sure enough, Eve comes along.

God gives him the greatest gift that he could ever have, because he knows that Satan is about to attack. And so when you talk about why is it important that couples understand that there's a spiritual power, when you know that the very first couple was placed in the context of a fight that Satan was going to pounce, and God said, you know what, I'm going to need to protect them against this, and I'm going to give Adam the greatest thing he could ever have, a spouse. And where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst. And the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church. Marriage is the most organic form of church. So John, if you see your marriage as a church, now all of a sudden, you and your wife, you're going to figure out a way to work through this conflict, because you know Satan wants it. And I love that illustration of that being a stench, that marriage is a stench in the nostrils of Satan, because it is reminding him constantly that God made human beings, made man in his image, and he made them male and female, and the two shall become one.

And that very image is right in the face of Satan every day. I mean, that's why we need to fight for our marriages. And it makes you fight differently.

It does. You had, let's get to it, because this isn't something, knowledge that you're born with. You kind of had to develop these thoughts. You had a long distance beginning. You were courting, but it was from a distance. And then you got married, and you went on your honeymoon.

So just wrap that into a ball for us. First courtship at a distance. How did that go? Oh, my goodness. Well, while we were courting, when we were dating, Jason was actually getting his master's degree in marriage and family counseling in the off-season of playing with the Baltimore Orioles. Was that attractive to you, that he was doing this?

It was. He said, well, we need to learn about marriage, so let's just do it this way. And so he began to get his master's, and he started sending me home all of his notes, and he's calling me, he's sending me the books, and we're like, oh, my goodness, this is amazing. God is so good. He's setting us up, right?

Yeah, isn't he? And then we get married, and he set us up all right. So you go on this honeymoon that you planned, right, Jason? I planned it. And what happened? Knowing that you were meant for each other from the beginning of the world.

Yeah, exactly. We were so excited. We were thrilled. And Jason didn't tell me where we were going, so he told me to pack light. Well, he meant that we were going somewhere warm. Light happened to be the most monstrous suitcase there was. Oh, my goodness. I didn't know where we were going, so I packed this big suitcase, and we get to the Bahamas, and we get onto the cruise ship, and immediately I'm seasick.

I had never been on a boat. That's not good for a honeymoon. No, it wasn't.

Yeah, that's exactly right. And so we very quickly realized that expectations were going to play a huge role in our relationship. And I had gone from this high of being a beautiful wife at my very best, you know, the week before, to being sick in bed, my very worst, and I just felt so hopeless.

Like, this is not the way it was supposed to be. And of course, Jason felt the same way. And Jason ended up, he said, we were getting ready to go, and he was irritated, and he was not himself.

I said, this is not the Jason I know. I think something about throwing a suitcase across the cabin on the ship. Well, you know, I helped her pack. And then I was packing it, and she said, give it to me, and I'll pack it. And I said, okay, fine. And I threw it across.

Are you kidding? I wasn't a good husband. I was a new husband. But disappointment is the gap between expectation and reality. And I didn't know that little lesson. And so we learned through the trial of fire that conflict is going to come, it's going to come fast, and you're going to be revealed for the junk that's inside you, and Satan's going to be laughing the whole time because he's going to be watching it because he wants you fighting face to face because he knows how dangerous you are fighting shoulder to shoulder. Well, people hearing you got to say, okay, you're reading these books, you're getting your master's in counseling and marriage.

What happened, Jason? I mean, you know, because it's a book knowledge, right? And now it's real. It's like the people that don't have kids when they see the kids in the grocery store having their tantrum. You know, when I have children, my kids will never behave like that. And God kind of says, Okay, we're going to put that over here for a little while. You know, with my studies, I discovered that with in any unhealthy relationship, it's typically tyranny by the most selfish person.

Hmm. So whoever's most selfish in that moment, I happen to be the most selfish person in that moment. And so I literally became a tyrant. That's essentially what it became where I control the situation.

And I wanted to control things. A lot of guys struggle with that one of the things that's so good. And you know, I think it is a process for young married people to learn. And it sounds like we've all learned this over time. Sometimes it takes some couples longer.

But this idea that actually conflict, if it's handled well, it can improve your relationship, you learn about yourself, and your spouse learns about him or herself. But it has to be seen as growth opportunity. You know, it's kind of like that job performance review, hey, you're doing all these things. Well, let me give you a couple things to help you improve in some areas.

And it's kind of like that, right? We're, we're some areas that, you know, I'm not doing as well. Speak to that idea of learning through conflict. Well, I think strength comes through strain.

So Jim, if you want muscles as big as john, you know, you're gonna have to go get under that squat rack, you're gonna have to go get under that bench press, I only hope that I can get there. But you know, God, God purifies us in the in the context of conflict. We're made for conflict. So Tori, and I like to say, look, don't stop fighting, start fighting the right way. Because I mean, all of us at this table could easily say that marriage is under attack, like never before. Oh, the numbers prove it. And Tori, and I would say marriage was made for the attack.

Huh? God wants it attacked. Because as your marriage gets attacked, and you experience that conflict, those who suffer together, stay together, it increases your commitment level to each other. Well, and your intimacy, emotionally, spiritually, I mean, you look what happens to you, you take 120 young men, and you send them off to boot camp for 12 weeks, and you know, as Marines, and then you send them off to war, and they come back a year later, a band of brothers, you know, it's like, you've got this, the one ring that will always keep you guys bound together as a married couple is not your wedding ring.

It's suffering. That when you move through that and recognize, you know what, this conflict is not going to tear us apart. Where John looks at his wife tonight and says, you know what, you're not my enemy. And she says to you, you're not my enemy, Satan is the enemy, we're going to defeat him together. He wants us fighting against each other, because God has a plan for us to fight against him.

And we're not going to let that happen right now. Tori, I want, I guess, to get your observation on this one, you mentioned in the book, Jason began traveling a lot, you had the young kids at home, you were kind of going a little crazy, just a little girl, like, and then he'd probably come home like I would and say, Oh, you wouldn't believe who I met the president, the senator, the whatever. Right. So help, you know, identify that with other spouses that are mostly at home. Yeah, working in the home, you might say, how did how did that hit you? And then how did you resolve that conflict?

Yeah, yeah. So when the kids were really little, Jason was traveling a lot, and he was gone quite a bit. And, you know, I had my whole life, I had had a dream that I would work alongside my husband one day. And that was just always something that I thought we would be moving towards.

And when Jason and David started their business, and it kind of took them in a different direction. I was so busy at home raising kids and homeschooling that I didn't even really think about that dream for a while I was just my hands were full and we were busy. And you know, I think that at some point, it kind of caught up to me that there there was an unrealized dream inside of me that was causing me to just causing a lot of sadness really in my heart. And so as Jason began to travel, I began to kind of pick up these bad habits of dealing with this pain in my heart of him doing a lot of life without me things not being the way I thought that they were going to be a lot of expectations that weren't really coming true.

And, and so I you know, life just was so busy that I just kind of felt like I just had to keep on going. But there was really this real deep longing in my heart to be doing more of life with Jason that I began to just feel really sad every time he left and, and my way of dealing with it was, well, I've just got to get strong, like Jason's doing great without me, and I'm just like barely holding on without him, I've just got to figure out a way to get stronger. And the way that I did that was to kind of put up a wall between me and Jason, because I was trying to be strong on my own. And I knew that God was calling him to to these different things that he was doing.

And I didn't want to get into the way of that. And so I just began to build this wall as a coping mechanism for these just, you know, tough feelings that I was in the set of the sadness of him doing so much of life without me. Every time Jason would come home, I was just distant, and I wouldn't really let him in.

And during that time, I was learning about neuroscience and how our brains work and how our thoughts work and how it really fascinating when you look into neuroscience and to see that our thoughts are there like pathways, and the more that we think a thought, the more established these pathways in our mind become. So if I think a thought, like, I've got to be strong, I got to do this life without Jason, and I begin to think he doesn't need me and he, you know, he's totally fine without me, he you need to become more independent, all these thoughts, right, but you started creating this pathway that I would go down every time he left, but what that was, was leading me to was not Jason. And I so I began to bring Jason into this and to say, you know, something's got to change. Like I feel like I just I just want to distance myself from you to protect myself from the pain that I'm feeling in this season. That's great that you were able to open up, though, and have that discussion because again, that that one way road, yeah, on your own, yeah, would lead to disaster, probably fair. Yeah, you know, just something right and something unhealthy for your marriage, right? And and but that was really critical that you were able to pull together and say, Okay, this is what I'm feeling. Yeah, I think this is why I'm feeling it that yeah, couples would be in such a better place if they could just be that open and that vulnerable. Fortunately, God gave her a little pattern on how to get out of it.

Are you going to share that with him? Yeah, awesome to speak to what you said, I think that the Lord, the reason I was able to do that is because the Lord had shown us a vision for our marriage that this isn't that that the enemy was coming against it. And I knew that Jason was my strongest ally.

So what were the things that were keeping me from fighting? Yeah, alongside of him. And that was one of those things I would, you know, every time you travel would kind of set us back a few steps. But yeah, so as I began to walk through this, Jason actually was in his scripture reading was reading about Jesus in the wilderness and how he dealt with temptations. And he, you know, Jason actually spoke this message to our church with these three Rs. Yeah, which was recognize, renounce, replace that this is how how Jesus dealt with these temptations. And so, Jason started walking me through this.

I'm like, I really think as he gave this message in our church, after the sermon, I was like, I think that's how I need to transform my mind. I think that these thoughts have just I've established this path that I just naturally jump on to because like any established path, you're going to naturally go to the established path more than ones that haven't been broken down. It's the easy way.

It's the path of least resistance. And so I began to do these steps, recognize recognize myself at the foot of that path. I'm going down it again, all these little triggers, Jason's on the road, I hear all these people, they sound like they're having a great time.

I'm sitting with the kids with macaroni and cheese in my hair again. And you know, it's all these little triggers and I begin to recognize recognize that Satan was the author of those thoughts. Like this is Satan.

I'm going to recognize that he's in this and he's throwing these thoughts. Yeah, and he moved into renounce, right renounce the lie. What is the lie behind this? And the Lord began to shy as I began to ask God, what is what is the lie behind all of this? And the Lord began to reveal to me that there was this discontent in my heart. And really, it stemmed from one day, Jason was on the road in the, you know, out of the bunches of the heart, the mouth speaks and sure enough, he calls one day, and there's all this, you know, all this excitement, excitement. And, and I just burst into tears.

And he's like, what's wrong? And I lash out and I say, I just don't think it was very nice. And as he said, What are you talking about? I said, I just don't think it was very nice of God. I didn't even dream that big.

I didn't have this grandiose dream. You know, I just wanted to do life with you. And it wasn't even really that much to ask.

I feel like everyone should want this in their marriage. And I just don't think it was very nice of him. She renounced the lie that God was mean. Yeah, I mean, seriously, you could have said that that was a lie. I was believing I wouldn't if I hadn't lashed out and said that I would have never thought that I thought God was unkind. But God's like, I don't know the budgets of the heart, the mouth speaks. And that was in my heart. Like I really began to believe like maybe God isn't really for me.

Maybe he doesn't really hear me. Well, in Tori, I so appreciate that vulnerability. I mean, that's amazing. And just your being in tune with the Spirit, even in valleys to be able to say, Okay, Lord, here's what I'm feeling. And what's so important for people to remember, and I would encourage people in this way, God can take your sorrows. Yeah, he wants to hear that from us. Sometimes we even try to hide that from the Lord. So we're kind of pretending in every direction with our spouse with God, better to lay it out there. And that's what's refreshing about what you did. Yeah, Jason, I'm not gonna let you off the hook.

Because, you know, you, you had some issues too, as a husband, and you realize you'd kind of allowed your marriage to become complacent. Yes. So I do want to hit that. And, you know, so wives are now going, uh huh. That's good.

Yeah. Yeah, bring that out here, too. Well, you know, I do want to speak to that. I just want to go back real quick to that that recognize, renounce, replace those three steps for any listener out there right now, you can apply that in your own heart and mind right now. And it will change your your relationships.

Starting today, it will change it for the better. Recognize that the devil is the one throwing those thoughts into your mind. Don't buy into those thoughts. renounce the lie behind those thoughts and replace it with the truth. Yeah, when you do that, you'll have to do it over and over.

It will help your relationship. Well, the thought that I had there, you know, even where Paul writes about think on heavenly things, you know, that idea that those pathways, right, God created the brain, you know, he knows how to use it. And so the idea that we read scripture that we meditate on scripture together that we pray together, those are creating pathways as well.

Pathways of truth. Yes. And that's what caught my attention. Well, you Okay, back to your shortcomings.

Yeah. Tori made it through hers. And God had to just smack me a good one, five years into marriage. Here I am a husband, I would say on a scale of one to 10, I would rate our marriage, what would you say to her six or seven, which for most people, they'd say, Great, we loved each other best friends, you know, everything was great. But you know, it wasn't everything that I always thought it would be. And I think most of us get to that point at some point in marriage. But in the mornings, I was getting up and praying really hard over my business. And God was blessing it. And I was passionate about it. And things were going really well. Then one morning, as I was praying for my business, the Lord convicted me, it was like, are you enjoying your relationship with your wife as much as you're enjoying what you're experiencing in business.

And I had to be real honest, I was like, I don't think I am. And so then I began to pray. And, and the Lord was just reminding me of all those feelings I used to have for Tori before we got married. And I'm like, what, why is our marriage like hovering at a seven, which most people would say that is okay, why can't it be a 10?

Why can't it be an 11? Why can't it be just as awesome and hot and as romantic as it was, you know, as we thought it should be when we were dating. So I began to pray, and I would wake up every morning, really early, Jim, you're an early morning guy. And I would get right next to the bed next to Tori about five 30 in the morning, I would lay my hands on her. And I always made sure to keep it above the shoulder. So she didn't think I was making an early morning move or anything.

So I would pray that God would reignite my passion for her. And I did that every day for two weeks. And then Tori and I showed up at a party one evening, two weeks later. And as typical, we walk into this party, you know, just like a little birthday party, bunch of friends there, I go one way, talk to the guy, she goes one way and talks to the girls. Only this time, after about 30 minutes, I was wondering where Tori was, I was a little more hyper focused on her. And I walked around the house, I finally found her in the kitchen. But I didn't, I saw her through a hallway into the kitchen, and she was talking to another guy. And this guy was standing awkwardly close to her. And instantly, I kind of felt this little heat come up in my chest. And, and I just sat there. And I know I hadn't felt jealous in a while.

I mean, I think there's a lot of guys out there that, you know, they've lost their jealousy, their protective jealousy for the apple of their eye. And you got to get that back. And so the Lord was about to give it to me. And so I saw them talking strangely close to each other. And then he busted a joke.

And I'm sitting there watching this, getting madder and madder. And then, to my horror, I saw him reach out and give her a hug. And she actually reciprocated and put her head down on his chest. And I have never felt anything like that. It was like somebody poured hot boiling lava on my chest. I took off on a full out sprint. I jumped across the kitchen island, food everywhere.

I jumped up with my fist, like I was going to pop him right in the chin. And then I woke up. It was a nightmare.

And you know, your body doesn't know if you it really happened or not. It was a nice is a bad dream. It was a bad dream. Wow. But it was a nightmare.

Smackdown. And I wanted I woke up. Now, listen, I was dripping sweat. I sat up in bed. And I looked over at Tori, who was sleeping peacefully, having no idea that she was in love with another man. And I just knew that something was going on.

Yeah, that's right. And I got up. And I was I was pacing around. And then I woke her up. I said, honey, you've got to tell me what's going on.

I just had a dream that you were cheating on me. Of course, you know, the guy gave her a hug or whatever. And she's like, No, nothing. I promise to calm down.

I mean, it's okay. And I'm like, All right. So I went to the bathroom, wash my face off, and my heart rate started to slowly go down. And then I, I went over next to her bed as I had for two weeks. And I started to pray for her again. And the Lord hit me, I gave you that dream. Because you have forgotten how to pursue your wife.

And I want you to pursue her like that guy in your dream was pursuing her. And I remember saying, but how, you know, like, when we're dating, we don't need a we don't need a how to manual on, you know, how to win the heart of our girl, we figure it out. But how and God took me to Revelation two, where he was talking to the Church of Ephesus, the Church of Ephesus had a first love, and their love had grown cold. And God said, you need to do three specific things.

When you look at Revelation two, there's three things that popped out. He said, Remember how far you fallen, repent, and redo the things you did at first. Remember, repent, redo, God dropped that on me. Remember how much I used to think about Tori and all the stuff we used to do before we were married and dancing in the kitchen to country music and country music is God's music. Dance it all these things. Remember that, repent for not doing it anymore.

And redo the things that you did at first to win her heart. And I'm telling you what for the next. I mean, ever since then, that was five years into marriage, we've been married almost 21 years now, you know, it's a great reminder of how God uses the metaphor of marriage in our relationship to him, him to us, us to one another. There is that strong indication about how he wants us to pursue him, him us, one another in our marriage.

I mean, it is what he wants for us. And we've got to remember God's not just our father, he's our father in law. And what does the father in law want you to do? If you want to say I love you to your father in law, what is your father in law?

Take care of my daughter, take care of my son. Yeah, that's really good. This has been awesome. Man, what a great book beauty in battle. And the idea that you're fighting together not at each other. And I so appreciate the thoughts and the many things we talked about today.

And I hope if you're in that spot where you are not fighting together, you're fighting against each other. Get a copy of this book. If you can send a gift of any amount monthly or one time gift, we'll send it as our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry. If you can't afford to do that, we're going to trust other people will cover that because we want to get it into your hands. We're a Christian ministry.

So that's our goal. If you need it, call us and we'll get it to you. And there's also caring Christian counselors that you can contact here at Focus on the Family.

Typically, they call you back because they got to put you in the queue and they'll do that. But after over 40 years of ministry, you're not going to surprise us. I think we've heard it all. You just need to be vulnerable. And if we can help, we want to help. So get in touch with us. Contact us today.

The link is in the program notes or call us our number 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459. Jason and Tori, this again has been terrific. Thank you for just that openness, that vulnerability and working hard to show that you are both created in the image of God and that the two shall become one. Thank you. Thanks for having us. We've enjoyed this. Thanks so much.

And thank you for joining us. Next time, author Suzy Larson shares about the importance of seeing yourself the way God sees you. When God looks at you, his heart beats out of his chest. He loves you so much.

If you're shy and that you have less to say, that's okay. But if you think you're less than, that's absolutely not okay. If you live your life trying to dig yourself out of a hole, you're living a lie. Jesus loves you.

You're no better than, but you are not less than. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today. I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. In light of the Supreme Court's recent decision on abortion, are you ready for what comes next and how should we respond as emotions run high? As Christians, we need to be ready and Focus on the Family can help you prepare. Join us every Monday to hear inspiring stories from people who faced their own pro-life moments and experienced God's love. To learn more, go to FocusontheFamily.com slash Seize Your Moment. That's FocusontheFamily.com slash Seize Your Moment.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-29 01:22:32 / 2023-03-29 01:35:21 / 13

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