By Hafsa Ahsan
How many of you, when you were getting married, got endless lectures and advice? And out of all those lectures, how many married people cautioned you not to let Satan come between you and your spouse?
Interestingly, this piece of advice is hardly ever given to the brides or grooms, as they embark on their journey through marital life. Most of the lectures they get centre on how to keep house, balance budgets and, of course, deal with in-law politics (on both sides).
However, it is equally important to remember that it is Satan’s most cherished job to create rifts between married couples at all times. It is then up to the couple to watch out for his evil whispers and safeguard themselves.
So what is it that Satan does? How does he operate to create these rifts between two people who are, after all, soul-mates in the truest sense? Here are a few examples.
“You aren’t good enough”
Any time you start feeling that something is inadequate in your spouse, immediately realize that it’s Satan egging you on. He might urge you that your spouse isn’t handsome enough or rich enough, or classy enough. So the next time you want to buy something, which is out of the household budget, you pick a fight.
For husbands the feelings of inadequacy arise, when their wives either cannot match the models they see on television or an impossible ideal they believe they deserve. Once this idealism translates into feelings of inadequacy, every petty issue seems enormous.
What to do: Any time you start feeling that your spouse isn’t good enough for you, or something he/she does doesn’t match up to your ideal, try to remember all the positive points of your spouse. It is characteristic of Satan that any time you feel a grain of resentment at your spouse, he ensures that you forget each and every good thing your spouse has ever done for you. And then your superlatives begin thus: “You never dress up for me,” “You never take me out,” “You never pay attention to me.”
The key is to remember that ‘never’ is an exaggeration. Focus on the positive – try to remember the good parts, and the negative ones will eventually fade.
“I’m the boss”
The ‘why should I do that’ factor often features in a marriage and sometimes becomes a big bone of contention. Consider all the times you have said the following to yourself or to your spouse:
“But why should I have to leave the PC, just because you want to play a game?”
“Why should we watch the sports channel when I want to watch a soap opera?”
“Why should I give up a visit to my friends to attend your cousin’s wedding?”
“Why do I have to be the one who always gives in?”
Such questions, and many other similar ones, creep into a marriage when there is a conflict of interests. Satan, of course, thrives on such conflicts, if they aren’t immediately resolved. He urges both spouses to remain firm on their stance and not budge an inch. Hence, each spouse feels injured and taken for granted.
What to do: Any time you start getting this ‘why do I have to be the one to give in’ feeling, remind yourself that it’s Satan who’s urging you to be rigid on your stance. Assure yourself that being flexible and giving in isn’t a sign of weakness – it is a sign of love for your spouse. So what if you cannot watch a soap opera because your husband’s friends turned up unexpectedly and you had to serve them? So what if you had planned to eat out, and your wife had to make an emergency trip to her mother’s home? Issues like these are never worth sulking over, and doing so only serves Satan’s ultimate purpose.
“She told me that you said this”
It is important to remember that Satan doesn’t always fuel marital conflicts through spouses themselves. He does that through third parties, too. Well-meaning friends and relatives can sometimes tell you very interesting things your spouse has said or done which may or may not be related to you directly. And this fuels your temper faster than anything else. Now you cannot wait to see your spouse and confront him/her about it.
What to do: Any time anyone tells you that your spouse has said so-and-so about you, take a deep breath and tell yourself that you trust your spouse above anyone else. If he/she has indeed done or said something, there must be a very good reason for it. Benefit of the doubt is the key phrase here. It is extremely important to ignore Satan’s urges to have a confrontation with your spouse, before you have clarified the matter in a more composed tone.
“It’s either me or your mom – take your pick”
Another very potent weapon of Satan is that he pitches the spouse against the in-laws. Stereotyping of in-law relations in the mainstream media hasn’t really helped to settle the matters. It’s true that there are households where it is very difficult to make one’s space amidst in-law politics. However, the worse thing a wife can do is to involve her husband in the petty disputes she has with his family. Sandwiched husbands, who find no peace at home and are forced to play referee, soon discover that their homes are no longer the haven they want to return to after a long day at work. Similarly, even a husband can put his wife in a difficult situation by preventing her from meeting those relatives of hers, with whom he has a dispute.
What to do: Never involve your spouse in the petty matters involving you and your in-laws. Handle these matters yourself. And in cases where you have to appeal to your spouse, do it in a non-accusing manner. Never try to prevent your spouse from meeting those relatives, with whom you have a problem. Wife versus mother is a man’s worse nightmare – you wouldn’t wish it for your own husband, would you?
“It’s MY child”
Once children come into the picture, Satan gets another weapon to strike with. The feeling of possessiveness, which every parent naturally feels for his/her children, takes new meaning if brought into marital conflicts. Children, of course, are highly affected whenever faced with this mom-versus-dad situation.
What to do: Just as you pledged to keep your spouses away from your disputes with your in-laws, this time tell yourself that you will keep your children away from your conflicts with your spouse. Never fight in front of children and certainly don’t involve them at any step.
At the end of the day, it is all about being aware – and going on a very high alert, whenever you feel even a slight resentment or irritation at your spouse, because that is when you are very vulnerable to Satan’s urges. Disputes are natural when two people are living together. However, it is all about how you resolve those issues that will ultimately determine whether or not Satan was successful in his aim.