I wouldn’t label myself a die-hard J.J. Abrams fan. I won’t watch something simply because his name is attached as a producer. That said, I have been known to be addicted to his shows more than once. Lost, for example. Alias, too. And, my latest Netflix-binging indulgence, Fringe.
Question: What do all of these shows have in common? Other than time manipulation, atypical pregnancies, and unpredictable storylines?
Answer: Individuals who, under normal circumstances, would never naturally band together, but they do. All in the name of defeating a common enemy. (I’d give you specific examples, but no one likes a spoiler.)
This idea of unlikely allies isn’t just a J.J. Abrams concept, though. It’s happened in history, too.
Let’s rewind back to the 1850s. England and France. These two countries had been enemies for hundreds of years. Yet a shared desire to stop Russia from overtaking the Ottoman Turks and expanding its geographical reach further south resulted in an unlikely union between the two nations. Not only did it mark France’s King Louis-Philippe as the first monarch to visit English royalty since 1356, but it also ended with the Russians’ plans thwarted. All you history buffs out there may recognize this as an ever-short-summary of the Crimean War.
So what do 21st-century television and 19th-century world history have to do with you and your marriage? Or me and mine?
I think there’s an important lesson we can learn from these two examples. It’s this: Common enemies have a way of uniting people.
Sure, most marriages (particularly in Western countries) are the voluntary joining of two people who love each other and enter it eagerly. But sometimes I think we forget that as husbands and wives we’re on the same team. We’re fighting the same battles. Too often, we allow our challenges and struggles to become a “me vs. you” battle rather than an “us vs. the problem” alliance. We too easily allow each other to become the enemy, when in reality we’re teammates.
My husband Ted and I haven’t had to face off against enemies like “the Others” in Lost or a large invading country like Russia. But, as I share in my book, Team Us: Marriage Together, we have encountered our own share of enemies. And I bet you have too.
Maybe, like us, it’s debt.
Or health issues.
Perhaps it’s the loss of a job.
Maybe it’s even an individual or organization that may not be an “enemy” in the full sense of the word, but with whom you’re experiencing some sort of conflict or issue. For example, last summer Ted and I had a rental car agent attempt to pit us against each other over a bill.
Whatever your common enemy may be, make a conscious and determined choice to identify it and band together to face it.
If it’s debt, sit down and figure out how you can work side-by-side to pay it off. Make a plan together. Then figure out ways you can keep each other accountable in a supportive, not accusatory, manner. Remind each other often, “It’s us vs. the debt! ”
Face health issues hand-in-hand. Rather than allowing the stress of doctor visits, difficult diagnoses, and medical bills to leave you irritated with one another, determine to walk through it as a united team. Encourage and affirm often. The sickness and the stress are the “enemies,” not your spouse.
Be purposeful not to let a job loss divide you. Dream and pray together about what the future holds, excited that no matter what happens you’re in it together. View it as a shared adventure, complete with the ups and downs and detours. Commiserate at times, sure, but together.
And instead of letting an outside person or organization leave you drawing lines in the sand and choosing sides, resolve to approach the situation as teammates. Work shoulder-to-shoulder to address and work through the conflict or issue.
Above all, remember that there’s an enemy far worse than debt and health issues and job loss (as hard as they are) who seeks to destroy our souls and our marriages. Paul speaks of this in his letter to the Ephesians. He writes:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (6:12)
This ancient enemy wants our marriages to be a constant “me vs. you” battle. He’d find pleasure in watching us, just like that first infamous couple in the garden at our history’s beginning, choose to blame and to point fingers and to divide.
Let’s not play his game. Instead, as couples, let’s unite. After all, who knows, maybe that’s one reason God created him. Not to tear us apart, but to bring us together against a common enemy.
If long-standing enemies can come together, whether the fictional onscreen creations of J.J. Abrams or real-life European countries, then surely we can.
Guest Post Author:
Ashleigh Slater is the author of the book, Team Us: Marriage Together (Moody Publishers). As the founder and editor of Ungrind Webzine and a regular contributor at several popular blogs and websites, she loves to combine the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. To learn more, visit AshleighSlater.com. You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter at @ashslater.