Usually, the championed superlative of spiritually-minded Christians is that everything is a battle in the spirit, and we should never war in the flesh. Scriptures such as Ephesians 6:2, "We war not in the flesh, but the spirit...," reinforce this push for the battle against the principalities and powers that try to tear at the very fabric of what we stand for and believe.
However ... we have been sadly mistaken and in deep error when trying to apply this "spiritually minded warfare" to working on and battling for our marriages.
Take a very slow, close look at the following scripture in which Apostle Paul speaking to married couples addresses some fundamental concerns: "... such shall have troubles in the flesh..." (1 Corinthians 7:28)
It almost takes a real revelation to actually catch the down-to-earth message Paul is conveying.
This scripture says that married couples will have troubles where? In the spirit? No, in the flesh!
If the war is in the spirit, as Ephesians tells us, then our war shall also be in the spirit. Then, we break down vain imaginations and other things that attempt to exalt themselves above God through the power of the Spirit. For we "wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers...." (Ephesians 6)
But marriage is not like that! Paul gives us the answer. It's NOT spiritual – it's physical, emotional and in the flesh.
You cannot simply pray away your lack of communication skills! You can fast and pray 24/7 and not spend time with your spouse – and you will lose your marriage!
No Lack of God
When it comes to church, prayer and worship, there really is no lack of God and His power. And the elite super-spiritual among us gleefully proclaim that our marriages are failing because a lack of faith in God's power. However, Hosea 4:6 says clearly that we as God's people are destroyed NOT for a lack of Holy Spirit, or Jesus juice. .. but for a lack of "knowledge."
Simple, down-to-earth, fundamental and practical understanding.
What happens is that we have grown out of control in our ranks to over-spiritualizing everything, and this includes the down-to-earth, fundamental dynamics of marriage!
The sun shines on both the just and unjust. The rain falls on both the righteous and unrighteous alike (See Matthew 5:45)
So no matter how spiritual you are, the laws of life still apply.
What is happening is that we are using the wrong methods to deal with our conflicts and problems in marriage.
Using Wrong Methods
Our base premise of why we are marriage coaches and speakers is a question. Simply ask, "Why are there couples that are happily celebrating their 50th Golden Anniversary, but do not believe in God, go to church, are not religious, etc. But then there are newlywed couples who are totally sold out to God, on fire for the Lord and totally active doing God's work, and they end up divorcing in less than a year?"
This question emulates what George Barna, founder of The Barna Group, commented: "While it may be alarming to discover that born-again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is that when those individuals experience a divorce, many of them feel their community of faith provides rejection rather than support and healing ... We rarely find substantial differences" between the moral behavior of Christians and non-Christians.
Barna Project Director Meg Flammang said: "We would love to be able to report that Christians are living very distinct lives and impacting the community, but ... in the area of divorce rates they continue to be the same."
Both statements seem to be projecting the belief that conservative Christians and liberal Christians have the same divorce rate. We absolutely must get our priorities right and understanding properly aligned to the Word and our spouse!
If you continue to use spiritual methods to do what you need to do in the flesh, you will produce negative results!
As said, if someone extends their fasting and prayer because of marital problems, that person is now multiplying his/her problems by spending even less time with his/her spouse!
It does not take an all-night prayer meeting to learn the practical tools to tell and show your wife the love she needs, and vice versa with husbands.
Using Our God-Given Brains
1 Peter 3:7 tells us to dwell and live with our spouse with ... understanding. Not Holy Ghost power, but understanding. This is the same word used for when we learn a new language, or go to school. It's gaining knowledge – the know-how of learning how to love our spouse.
Yes, prayer, worship and fasting work, but not if these are your only means and methods to fixing your marriage.
Hebrews 6:1: "So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding." (NLT)
We must learn the old fashioned way, by our brain cells and good ol' fashion hard work. This is how we will conquer a large majority of marital problems. And while there are times when only prayer and spiritual methods will do what we cannot, most of our marital problems we face today have very little to do with spirituality.
But as with everything we do, we can do all things through Christ that strengthens us... and ultimately, our marriage.