Why is the first response to a fight for one spouse to sleep on the couch? Some refer to it as the “doghouse.” It’s where we send the men when they’ve been bad or where we threaten to go when we’re upset. It’s like a punishment and an escape all in one.
I’m still in my first year of marriage, and I have threatened to sleep on the couch several times. And so has my husband…sometimes because I have strongly suggested it.
But for whatever reason, neither of us has actually slept an entire night on the couch. And although it might not seem like a big deal to some, I am very thankful we haven’t let ourselves make sleeping on the couch a habit.
We went to a marriage conference when we were engaged last year, and the speaker, Jimmy Evans, said something I’ll never forget. He said that when you get in a fight with your spouse and go to sleep angry, that’s when the enemy whispers in your ear. That’s when he gets you.
I think about that every time I walk to the couch during a fight. And I hear Jesus pleading with me to turn around and get back in the bed. To make up because the fight isn’t that big of deal anyway. To apologize and play defense because satan is on the offensive. He smells the argument and knows that’s his cue to pounce.
My husband and I have never even talked about not sleeping on the couch – it’s like we just both know. We know it’s a warzone where the enemy has the most ammunition. We know it’s dangerous territory.
Now, please don’t freak out and shame all over yourself (I stole this phrase from my counselor) if you or your spouse has ever slept on the couch. It is not the end of the world and I do not think your marriage is over. The entire point of this is to be very careful with your fights. Be intentional to pull yourself out of the fight and see yourself on the other side. See Jesus instead of the spouse you want to run away from. Remind yourself why you chose that person and why you choose them every day.
For you, it might be the guest bedroom or the office or the kitchen or the garage or anywhere else you run away to when the going gets tough.
Sometimes it’s shopping for me. It’s baseball for him. It’s a closed bathroom door or a rude text message. There are a million little ways we can show our annoyance with the ones we love the most, but there are also a million little ways we can show our love. Friend, I urge you to choose love. And I am preaching so hard to myself because I do not always choose love.
But I am bound and determined to keep the devil out of my bedroom and out of my husband’s ear. I refuse to let him whisper lies about me to the man I love. I would much rather make room for Jesus to reaffirm the truths my guy knows about me and the truths I know about him. And aside from The Word, one of the greatest ways I hear truth is with my husband. God created marriage like that on purpose – so we can experience intimacy on earth that mimics intimacy in the Heavenly realm. So that we can get a taste of an intimacy that makes us crave an even greater intimacy.
And I ain’t gonna get that intimacy on the couch alone, ya feel me?
Next time you’re headed to the couch, turn around. Run back to the bedroom and give your spouse a kiss. End the fight. Claim the victory. Because you have the victory, you know? In Jesus, you have the victory over absolutely anything that comes against you. Romans 8:31 “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Nothing can come against you that can’t be defeated.
Your marriage was built on the foundation of Jesus and it will stand on that foundation if you keep building on it. Don’t run away. Don’t retreat. Press in to the hard times and let them grow and strengthen you. You were made for more. Your marriage was made for more. You were never meant to be ships in the night, passing each other and going through the motions. You were meant to be teammates fighting for the Kingdom, in the same boat, weathering the storms together.
You don’t want to go it alone. You don’t want to wake up on the couch with a crick in your neck and your feet hanging off the edge. Take refuge in the marriage bed and let it be your sanctuary. Remind each other of the covenant you made and keep walking in the promise that God gave you on the day you said, “I do.”
You won’t ever regret carrying your pillow and your apology back to the bedroom to take back territory the enemy tried to steal.