Holding Your Spouse Captive

Dave and Anne diagonal

My mind goes to a childhood experience.  On a family vacation to San Diego, we had taken a day to go across the border to Mexico. At a local flea market, I saw a pair of handcuffs and just had to have them. After a day of pleading with my dad and him haggling with the venders, I went hope with the prize.  It was at a later date, while my parents where not home, I decided to lock myself up in them but couldn’t find the key.  I was, quite literally, a prisoner in my own home.  But after a few hours, patience, persistence, and a paper clip, I got myself free.

There are many times in my life, outside of the handcuff incident, that I felt captive to situations and circumstances. It’s that sick feeling that you are powerless to do anything that could free you.  You feel lost.  The hopelessness is stifling.  In absolute desperation, you begin to reach out for anything that can lead you to hope.

For many people…their marriage can feel that way.

How does that happen? It’s when we fail to embrace the scripture that says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.

Instead of thinking of our spouse in the same way that Christ would think of them…

Instead of treating our spouse in the manner of which Christ treats you…

We hold them captive.

TRUTH: We must be cautious that we do not hold our spouse captive with our fears, suspicions, and experiences from the past. 

Let’s dissect that a bit…


My first thoughts turn toward an episode of the office where Dwight tries to force Ryan to overcome fear by wrestling his cousin Mose (who has “fear” taped onto his shirt).

Fear is a learned behavior. Don’t believe me?  Watch a 2-year-old run into the street, reach out for a hot stove, or stick something into a light socket.  You may call it immaturity because of their age, but there’s a lack of fear because they haven’t learned it yet.

What is it in your past that has conditioned you to live in fear?  Did someone leave you emotionally fractured and broken? Is there a lack of trust in yourself and, therefore, you’re afraid to be alone? Do you lash out first out of fear of you being hurt again? Is your attempt to welcome fear in the marriage, your attempt to control your spouse?

Fear is cancerous. It’s dangerous. It’s paralyzing too marital growth. It wants to linger, haunt,  and want to escalate to massive proportions. It’s purpose is to rule your life and your marriage with an iron hand.

Does your spouse us the phrase, “I better not, he’ll/she’ll get angry” all too often?   Does your spouse say, “If I’m not home at a certain time, I’ll be in trouble.”
Is your spouse afraid to deal with subjects/objects of tension because of how you react EVERY time?

If it’s true?  Fear is manipulating your marriage.  Your spouse is being held captive by fear.


My wife get’s annoyed by my paranoia of the police. Growing up in my neighborhood, kids were not the greatest at staying out of trouble. It was a common thing to see the police around. When the police showed up, my friends would run. So I did to…and I wasn’t doing a thing. It’s the reaction I had and, at 37 years old, I still have this lingering suspicion that the cops watching me waiting to get me for something. Silly huh?

I liken “suspicion” to bronchitis.  Why bronchitis? Because you’re living in a state of shorter breaths.  You’re guarded against deep breaths or situations that could cause you to need deep breaths. On the most part, it’s not deadly. It comes in full force and lingers, for what it seems like, forever.  If it’s not treated, it escalates into pneumonia. Pneumonia can lead to death.

Marital “bronchitis” (suspicion) keeps the marriage from that deep breath of life it so desperately needs. The “deep breath” is that pause of the marriage when you realize that everything is going to be fine. Sometimes vacations can be a “deep breath.”  Other times its moments of complete peace and quiet.  Maybe it’s a night out away from the kids.  But for the paranoid, it’s the quiet before the storm. The suspicious spouse always expects something is up.  There always something lingering and it’s just a matter of time.

Why do you carry the suspicion? Did your spouse break your trust?   What about your parents? Are you suspicious because of what you saw in their marriage?  What do you watch/read? (I’m completely serious) Does the entertainment you watch feed into a fantasy world that you’ve pulled your marriage into?

If it’s true?  Suspicion is smothering your marriage.  Your spouse is being held captive by paranoia.


As a young man, I was in a few relationships that, looking back, were not healthy in the least bit.  You can call it the immaturity of high school romances but it affected me.  I would constantly be in trouble with my girlfriend(s) and, for the life of me have no clue what it was about.  Before you say, “typical male…doesn’t see what he did wrong,” I realize that from her experiences, she was launching out at me.  She was hurting and I didn’t see it.  It resulted in two of us separating and both of us affected.

When Anne and I were dating, she couldn’t understand why I was apologizing for everything.  I remember conversations where she was trying to figure out where I was coming from.  Why was I always quick to apologize, especially, when I had nothing to do with it. The problem: my past experiences conditioned me for the future ones.  I was on my guard. I wasn’t going to be in trouble again. In fact, I started going in the opposite direction.  I began keep myself from being in trouble by stockpiling her faults.  That way, when I’m in trouble, I’d have an arsenal of ammo to fire back.  I wasn’t going to relive being the “pin-cushion” again.

What experiences have you had that are keeping you from releasing your marriage into health?  Is there unresolved “fracture” in your past that you can’t let go of?  Do you carry past scars that are in need of healing? Have YOU had a failing and, therefore, you don’t trust yourself or anyone else for that matter?

If it’s true?  Your past experiences is shackling your marriage.  Your spouse is being held captive by your past.


I love what the bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

1. He has “power.” Come to the Lord for help. As a child, fear was always chased away by the presence of a parent. Sure a nightlight was a help, but never did what a mom or dad could do. We counter this “prison” with asking the Lord for His presence to rest upon us. Remember what the bible says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2. Receive what the Lord has to offer: “love“. Let the Lord restore love back into your marriage. It’s more than a feeling. It’s a decision.  And that decision is always followed by actions. Take a moment and read 1 Corinthians 13 and ask the Lord to restore a love that “never fails.” Because without it, we’re nothing more than an annoying gong.

3. Exercise “self-control.” Let go.  It’s the old saying, “let go and let God.”  Change your attitude.  Change your focus.  Confess what you’ve been living with to your spouse and have him/her pray with you. Sometimes you won’t feel like, you have to “will” it.  You have to say, “I WILL not do this to my marriage.  I WILL not shackle my spouse.”  God’s not gonna force ya.  You need to make the decision to be free.

4. Live in “freedom.”  Don’t go back.  Don’t give it room to grow back. Embrace marital liberty, healing and freedom.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

3 responses to “Holding Your Spouse Captive”

  1. Thx for another excellent piece of writing on such an
    important subject!

  2. Oh P. Dave, how I miss your preaching. Great as usual.

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