Have you ever noticed that the Bible begins and ends with a marriage? Near the beginning of Genesis with Adam and Eve we witness the first uniting of a man and woman by God. In Revelation, Jesus returns and we experience a wedding between the Church (the bride) and Jesus (the bridegroom).
John and Stasi Eldredge, the authors of Love & War, have been married nearly 30 years, have 3 sons and intimately share with wisdom and grace what they have learned from their own deep struggles and triumphs throughout their marriage. They have not had the easiest relationship but they are committed to God and to each other and have worked through the roadblocks together.
God gave us marriage, both as a picture of His love to the world, and because we are going to need each other. We are not playing house―we are living in an epic love story.” (p. 125)
Marriage will transform you.
Going into marriage they were expecting happily ever after, but a few years into their marriage the Eldredges were considering divorce. Their individual wounds from the past that had never been dealt with collided with intensity in their marriage. Stasi’s wounds caused her to believe that no one would ever really love her and she felt like a disappointment. John brought his wounds of being an insecure perfectionist and the vow that he would never need anyone.
Your marriage is a perfect storm because your brokenness and sin collide in devastating precision with your spouse’s. Yet, God is in that because He is using your marriage to transform you.” (p. 125)
Many people get caught up in the high flying feelings of attraction and aren’t fully prepared for the reality of what marriage brings. Namely, a uniting of two people with two different histories, two ways of looking at life, two ways of doing things. Unless you both are willing to let God refine you through your marriage, to serve your spouse in love and to give lots of forgiveness and grace, marriage can begin to feel like hard work.
God is for your marriage!
Sometimes in marriage, “Things become hard; we are at first surprised then dismayed. Eventually if the situation doesn’t improve, we fall into resignation. We check out, we disappear―emotionally, mentally, sometimes physically. He watches TV all weekend; she eats or goes shopping…Two people managing their disappointment, negotiating for better terms through a DMZ they call marriage.” (p.15)
But, they remind us, that even in the most dire situations there is hope. “For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). This includes a marriage that seems broken beyond repair. God created marriage and He is for your marriage!
John shares, “God uses marriage to bring us to the possibility of the deeper joys in life; Satan tries to use it for destruction…We all know that loving is hard. Marriage is hard because it is opposed. The devil hates marriage; he hates the beautiful picture of Jesus and His Bride that it represents.” (p.38)
That’s where the “war” part of the title comes in. We love our spouse but we are also in a spiritual war where the enemy is fighting to destroy our marriage. “You have an enemy, and it is not your spouse. The sooner you come to terms with that fact, the better.” (p. 126)
Created for a shared mission
A huge part of feeling connected in marriage comes from a like-minded mission. John asks, “What is the mission of your marriage? Finding a shared mission as a couple is essential to a vibrant marriage. Our hearts are made to live a life that matters, a life of epic significance. Surviving the week so you can hit the food court on the weekend is not enough.” (p. 115)
The Eldredges believe that God has rigged the world for adventure. You have a mission, your spouse has a mission, and your marriage has a mission. Work together, while seeking God, to discover what your mission together is.
Other important ideas
Because each chapter in Love & War has a unique topic in relation to the others it’s difficult to capture every topic in a short article but I do want to quickly share these other important ideas that are explored in the book.
Only god will ultimately fulfill us.
“When it comes to love and happiness we are broken cups. We will put untold amounts of pressure on our marriage until we realize that God is the waterfall; He is the love we are looking for. The greatest gift you can give your spouse (and everyone else in your life) is to have a real relationship with God.” (p. 125)
Pray regularly together. Learn to listen to God in prayer. Bring God into every decision you make. Their chapter on prayer and listening for God’s voice is so full of sound and helpful teaching. I would recommended the book for this chapter alone!
The Little Foxes
Remove the “little foxes”, things that come into your relationship and gradually destroy it. “Little foxes” are negative actions that initially may seem small or inconsequential but over time they can ruin the garden of your relationship.
God is clear in His word that regular sex is important in a marriage. Be intentional about having a healthy and mutually fulfilling sex life. If it’s not healthy figure out why and fix it.
Love & War is an honest look into marriage without the sugar coating. It holds so much helpful advice shared through real life examples bringing encouragement for your relationship. I highly recommend this book to both singles and married couples.