Competing Lovers

Do you ever feel like you’re torn between two lovers? You fiercely love Christ and desire to grow in your relationship with Him, but you experience heart conflict and perhaps a bit of confusion when you feel forced to choose between what you think God wants and what your husband wants.

The two seem to be pulling you in opposite directions!

Rather than your marriage being an intimate waltz where the two of you are moving as one through the orchestra’s melody, with God as the conductor, it feels more like you’re caught in a tug-of-war between God and your husband, and you’re the rope—stretched and ready to snap!

You may feel like you’re torn between competing lovers, but actually there is only one heart decision to make and Jesus provides the answer. At first glance you may think it’s too simplistic, but this simple truth is rich with meaning:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37–39)

Loving God and following His course of direction will always include loving your husband—there’s no competition there. God will never lead you down a self-centered path that disregards the welfare or concern of another. That’s a given.

We hear a lot of zany things called love, but 1 John 3:16 provides us with the definition for true love:

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

If your husband is pressuring you to violate Scripture, you have recourse (obedience to God outranks obedience to anyone lesser every time), but typically the “torn between two lovers” conflict revolves around preference issues rather than moral absolutes.

We must always view marital conflict through the “Big Picture Lens” or we’ll lose perspective and cave to the pressure of our emotions.  

The “Big Picture” is this: When you enter the marriage relationship, you are entering the sacred metaphor God designed to explain Himself to a watching world.

Marriage is the great mystery, the glorious platform God created to display His love relationship with His bride (Ephesians 5:22–33). Of all the metaphors God uses to describe His love relationship with us, the marriage metaphor seems to be His favorite; it flows freely throughout Scripture. The fact that marital love is the narrative arc of three Old Testament books (Ruth, The Song of Songs, and Hosea) indicates its significance. In each of these beautiful portrayals, the picture of God’s devoted and redemptive love is seen. 

The primary characteristic of redemptive love is unity through reconciling grace. 

We’ve got to keep reminding ourselves that God doesn’t want us to live in a divided relationship with our husbands. That totally defeats His purpose for marriage (and it totally sucks out all the joy He desires for us to experience!).

You may be married to an unbeliever and in that case you have a greater challenge. Without the common bond of Christ, it will be impossible for you to experience spiritual intimacy in your relationship. Loving him includes showing lots of patience—because according to 1 Corinthians 2:14—spiritual stuff just sounds foolish to him. Knowing this, proceed carefully, humbly, and graciously—you are your husband’s nearest reflection of Christ. If you apply pressure to him using the argument “God wants you to . . .” it can trigger a defensive mechanism in his heart against God.

Your husband may ask you to spend Sundays with him or feel like he’s in competition with your church. One husband told me his wife was so busy doing Bible study that she never cooked a hot meal or even had time for him! His wounded heart was visible.

If your husband wants you to skip church one Sunday to spend the day with him—God may very well be pleased for you to do that, if you’re graciously showing him the 1 John 3:16 type of love. That doesn’t mean becoming a stay-at-home-martyr on Sundays where you’re “dying to self for him!” 

Demonstrate appreciation and show genuine kindness to your husband and through that build a platform of influence. 

Remove the potential for him to view himself in competition with God for your affection. At appropriate times share why your relationship with God is important and ask God to use you to whet your husband’s appetite for God. Ask God to use you as the conduit through which He can win your husband’s heart to Himself (1 Peter 3:1–5).

You may be married to a man who claims to be a Christian, but has very little interest in spiritual things. Sadly, I think that may be the case in many marriages, but part of your God-given assignment is to serve as “iron sharpening iron” by inspiring your husband to be the man God created him to be. Part of that assignment includes what I call “salty grace talks” where you graciously share truth and at times even humbly confront your husband’s sin, as a demonstration of true love.

In Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior I include a chapter on building a platform of influence to help wives develop an appealing voice rather than one husbands tune out.

You can also check out: “Challenging Your Man to Robust Christianity” where I share some practical suggestions for stirring a husband’s spiritual interest.

God designed the most intimate of all earthly relationships to serve as a real-life parable depicting His commitment to His bride. Marriage is God’s personal symbol and signature. It’s His platform to display to the watching world a physical picture of a spiritual reality.

A strife-filled, divided relationship doesn’t do God’s beautiful love relationship justice. Don’t be torn between two lovers—fully love God, and from that love, fully love your man!

Portions of this post are excerpts from Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior

© 2012• Kimberly Wagner • Moody Publishers


  • Thank you!

    Hi! I just wanted to let you know how much this message touched my heart. I was really “fierce,” as you put it, in my commitment to knowing and serving God, but ever since I began dating my husband, I have felt so torn between pleasing God and pleasing my husband. It’s not that my husband doesn’t love God, and there isn’t any blatant sin, but I’d say he maybe isn’t prioritizing God as a clear #1 in his life. He surely has room to grow– but surely so do I. I have had to stop being so passive (my incorrect version of submission) in our relationship and to take responsibility for my own desires and spirituality, and I truly believe I was making an idol out of my husband in many ways as well. Allowing God to become supreme in my heart is such a PROCESS, but instead of getting bogged down in that, I rejoice in the PROGRESS that God and I have made together. I read this article at the perfect moment, and God ministered to my heart in a big way. Thank you!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello “Thank you!”

    And I thank you for stopping in to share that with us! I love hearing when God shows up with His Word right when we need it!

    So glad for the many ways God is growing you and I encourage you to keep pressing in deeper to His great love for you!

    Blessings, friend ~