Of Idols in Marriage & How to Break Free

My husband and I have been attending an evening class at our church.

Last week we were discussing worship and the speaker mentioned how idolatry – prioritizing something else before God – can creep into our lives…even marriage.

Of I dols in Marriage & How to Break Freee

I  couldn’t help but think about the formerly broken areas of my life.

And how even though I am now healed, I am tempted to make my husband priority over God.

Fixing ourselves

You see when we are broken, we crave a fix.

A quick fix.

We want our pain and discomfort to go away now.

We don’t care for long-term treatment.

We put the ear-plugs on God.

We tune out God and instead tune into the pain, fears, tears and pride of the moment.

Where it begins

I grew up thinking I had to perform to be accepted and approved.

So much so that after my dad passed away a few years ago, the worst part of my grief was coming to terms with the “fact” he died too soon: before I could make him proud of me, before I could become the daughter he wanted.

Now I see the lies in what I believed then.

Because while my dad’s love language and mine were completely different, I can now understand the various ways he showed his love and acceptance and approval.


Enter my husband.

Another man to please and perform for.

Or so I think during the stormy times of marriage and heart.

All the healed papa wounds burst open.

I revert back to the child and adult I was; on quiet panic mode, constantly thinking of ways to make the hero of my life happy and proud of me.

Breeding shortcuts.

“for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

Jeremiah 2:13

Brokenness breeds shortcuts.

Brokenness and sin makes us think that something else, other than God, can give us life.

We go off seeking this “else” and lift it up in God’s place.

We leave the path of healing and redemption for weak human paths.

But we never attain the life and health we seek because we forsook the real Source, the real Healer, the Author of marriage.

Removing shortcuts

In my marriage, God knows my heart.

And He lets me know that He knows.

Many days He will stop me on my tracks and ask me to think about why I am doing what I am doing.

Am I pushing for a certain conversation, simply because I can’t bear to have Tommy “unhappy” with me?

Am I being hardheaded simply because I am trying to prove a point – that I am smart, capable, strong, worthy of love and respect?

Will I linger in a messy uncomfortable situation, without squirming and fighting and simply allow Him to minister what He wants?

Will I stop pursuing productivity and success as a measure for my value and worth?

Who is your foundation

As we think about getting rid of idols in marriage, here’s some questions we could ask ourselves today.

Who  fuels our marriage journey?

Clever human wisdom? Books and blogs? Our own tips and past proven methods?

Are we listening, really listening to God.

Or have we allowed the idol of self – what we want, what we fear, what we crave – to become god in marriage? (Click to tweet, Thanks)

Have we made the pursuit of happiness and love in marriage a priority over obedience and an honest relationship with God?

(Cos you know, sometimes God wants us healed more than he wants us happy)

Are we pursuing a less-than-lovely marriage, accepting an ordinary relationship, the status quo, because anything more would force us to face up to our brokenness and fears and, ultimately, idols?

Of Idols in marriage and how to break free

The hope.

But for hope, I would be in a dark dreary place.

Thank God for hope!

We cannot, by our own strength or sheer willpower, eliminate the tendency to create “broken cisterns that can hold no water” (idols) in our marriages.

I don’t think God is super upset about our inability.

He knows we cannot save ourselves.

He created us to need Him.

So the sin here is not the temptation to wander from healing.

But in refusing His help and giving ourselves to the temptation.

God will reveal to us, moment by moment, when we are tempted to do things that remove Him from 1st place in our lives.

The Holy Spirit is so very close; He is near and clear.

And He will speak.

We must keep an open pliable heart, a heart that desires God more than earthly things and quick fixes.

Will you allow God to help you today in your life and marriage?

Further recommended reading:
My friend Barb Raveling has a great blog and articles dedicated to helping people break free from sinful habits. Click here to read her articles on breaking free from idolatry.


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Linking with Messy Marriage, We are That Family, Wifey Wednesday, Titus 2sdays
  • Erin

    Hello Ngina! I recently discovered your blog from one of your Pinterest posts and I’m so glad I did! Your well-written insights are truly a blessing. Thank you and God Bless. I look forward to following your posts!

    • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

      Hi Erin! Thank you for reading and following, so blessed to hear the posts are blessing, praise the Lord. Thank you for your kind words.

  • http://www.messymarriage.com/ Beth Steffaniak

    Wow! We were on the same wavelength the other day, Ngina! And I think you bring up a really important point and common problem, especially with wives, where we try to get our “fix” from our spouses. It doesn’t seem like idolatry on the surface or in that self-centered moment, but it truly is! Thanks for always shining a light on the most important things in life and marriage, my friend! Love ya!

  • S Kibachio

    Well said Ngina. These idols mess our lives by putting so much pressure on ourselves because of the false believe that we have to achieve certain standards or else we are doomed! It is a hard lesson to allow the Son of God to set us free so that we can be free indeed. Then we can offer our gifts to each other with a smile knowing that it all depends on our maker to mold us to His likeness and truly enjoy the process of transformation. Sadly, our fallen human nature is always interfering. No wonder Paul wondered: O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
    Romans 7:24

  • http://www.creeksideministries.blogspot.com/ Linda@Creekside

    Good evening from your next door neighbor over at Beth’s! Thanks for the wake-up call about idols … the enemy is so deceptive and can subtly twist even good things and make them sin.
    I appreciate your words this evening, Ngina …

  • http://betty-wiseheartedwomen.blogspot.com Betty Draper

    My sister you have written on such truth. I remember early in my marriage a friend told me to be careful that I didn’t make my husband my whole life. I don’t think I understood it back then but I for sure understand it now. I made my husband my idol for years trying to please him and even trying to be like him. Aging will take some of that away but God will take even more. To understand only God can love me with unconditional love ALL THE TIME. Only He understands me perfectly. I don’t have to prove my love for Him, Jesus did that for me which is freedom and out of freedom comes a willing heart to be an obedient child of God.

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

    You sound so much like me. God has been delivering me from the temptation to try and prove myself. I grew up feeling the need to perform. It’s been difficult to realize God loves me despite what I do. He loves me for who I am, not who I will become. He loves me just because I exist and not for anything I’ve done or will do.
    This is liberating but also humbling. So much love. And that is the kind of love to build a marriage on. The kind that loves no matter what someone does or who they are or who we hope they will become.
    We must simply choose to love and be loved. It’s that simple and that complex.

  • http://www.barbraveling.com/ Barb Raveling

    I thought this was an interesting post from so many different perspectives, Ngina. It seemed to cover all of our potential idol issues in marriage and I think I’ve done all of them at one time or another in my marriage!

    I love what you said here: “So the sin here is not the temptation to wander from healing. But in refusing God’s help and giving ourselves to the temptation.”

    It’s true. We’re all tempted, so we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for being tempted but instead run to God for help. I appreciate you including the link to my idolatry series. After seeing the link, I thought, “I should go back and do that series for my own issues again.”

    So I did one of the lessons this morning after reading your blog (this is my second time back) and God really used it to free me up. I feel like I’m on the cusp of living in victory in my own idolatry temptations with writing after two years of renewing my mind in that area. I will be so thankful when that happens!

  • http://www.lincolnparks.com/ Lincoln Parks

    Its imperative that our focus stay on him. This sounds like such an interesting class Ngina that you and your husband are taking. We have idols creep into our marriages all the time and sometimes we don’t even know it. It all happens when we take a glimpse to the left or right instead of straight ahead on him.

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    It has to start with depending upon Him. If we follow what we want or feel, our marriages won’t last long. When we put Him first is when we’ll have a long and wonderful marriage :)

    • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

      True Kimanzi, it all begins with Him. We suffer much when we leave Him out of the equation. He’s the Creator of marriage after all, we do well to follow His manual

  • http://theregoi.com/ floyd

    Well chronicled issues we all have within us, Ngina. These are the things we all wrestle with and the wisdom from our Father that we need to overcome. Thanks for the reminders.

    • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

      So true Floyd, many issues from within, but nothing that God can’t help us conquer and overcome. Thanks for coming by and your encouragement