There is a passage of scripture in the Bible that reads, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 – NKJV)
I’ve known that scripture for years and knew what it meant in the context of church persecution. The Apostle Paul was saying that a spirit (disposition) of fear (or timidity or cowardice) did not come from the Lord. The passage goes on to say, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…” As the church (early Christians) was being persecuted, people were afraid to share their faith or even be identified as a Christian (though they weren’t called Christians at that time in history). So, what does this have to do with marriage? Very much in principle. Let me explain.
Church history shows us that the growth of the church was proportionate with the amount of persecution that existed against it. As persecution increased, people scattered to escape the persecution and shared their faith at their respective destinations, thus spreading the gospel even further. Some were timid and held back for fear of persecution. From those, the gospel would not have spread as much as it did with those who fearlessly shared it. Therefore, a timid spirit can thwart growth, even in marriage. How you may ask?
The Effect of Timidity
People with a timid spirit will not be open and honest with their spouse because of fear of conflict, and any issues between them could perpetuate for many years until a breaking point. Let me illustrate how this can happen. Suppose John and Judy are a married couple. John is open and honest with his wife and expresses the good and the bad to her. If he sees a problem in the relationship, then he talks to his wife about it in hopes of resolving it. Judy, on the other hand, is timid in the relationship. She doesn’t express her feelings or thoughts about issues in the relationship as her husband does. As a matter of fact, she interprets John’s efforts as an attack on her or as criticism.
Tension grows between the married couple after years of marriage because issues between them are never dealt with and resolved. The timid avoid that process. John may begin to feel alienated from his wife because she doesn’t interact with him much. He may also stop expressing his feelings about the marriage because doing so has not done any good and the same issues are unresolved. Judy may pull away from her husband because she becomes resentful of him for hurting her for so many years, though she never expresses that to her husband.
This cycle can go on for decades and the couple may not realize what is eating away at their relationship. The tension can build until it finally breaks them apart.
The Breaking Point
The timid spirit in a marriage has the potential of tearing the couple apart. The breaking point could be an incredible argument, or it could culminate into an abandonment of the spouse, such as infidelity. The horrible thing about the timid spirit in a marriage is that the more one tries to make things right, the more the timid spirit will interpret those as attacks and never deal with the real issue being brought up. This is like fuel being thrown on the fire.
The fruit of a timid spirit in a marriage relationship is separation. This separation could eventually manifest itself with a roommate relationship, infidelity, or divorce. When issues in a marriage are not resolved, then the resultant tension produces a separation in one form or another.
The best thing any married couple can do is to communicate openly and honestly with each other. Don’t assume that your spouse is trying to hurt or merely criticize you when he or she wants to talk about something that troubles him/her. At least give your own spouse the benefit of the doubt and assume that he or she is trying to make things right. This whole situation can be made worse if, for example, the husband determines that his wife assumes he is merely criticizing her or trying to hurt her when he has been trying to do right the whole time.
The person with the timid spirit needs to evict that spirit because it does not come from God. Being timid and being someone who is reserved are two different things. I am referring to the disposition of being afraid of conflict and therefore doing nothing about that conflict. Pray to rid yourself of the timid spirit or learn to overpower it with the power of God in your life so that you deal with conflict constructively.
Yes. When you and your spouse talk about things, even the hard things, feelings may get hurt. You may become embarrassed about something you thought you were doing so well, when in fact your spouse thought it was bad. Get over it. Suck up your feelings and resolve the issue to make things right. You’ll laugh about it in the coming years instead of experiencing more tension and separation in those years.
Listen to your spouse too. Expressing oneself to your spouse should be safe. In other words, your spouse may bring up something that hurts your feelings or angers you. However, stay objective and not emotional. Explain yourself and talk about it. It could be your spouse has misinterpreted something and just needed a proper perspective. It could also be that you need to be more aware of something and make some compromises and/or adjustments.
The solution to the timid spirit in a marriage is communications, objective listening, and resolution of the issues. Then you both will be able to grow your marriage into a happy one as you both laugh at the stupid things you used to do in the past.