Escapism is when we avoid facing our reality or circumstances and hide through things like entertainment. When we come up for air, the situation is usually a lot worse from the neglect. My husband and I did a lot of escaping when things got hard in our marriage. We were unhappy and unsatisfied in our relationship, and instead of pursuing God and being obedient to His Word, we ran to things we shouldn’t have.
In this episode of the Marriage After God Podcast we share the ways we tried escaping our reality and the importance of just confronting it. Our marriage is in such a better place today!
Watch, Listen through iTunes, or read the transcript!
Aaron Smith: Hey, we’re Aaron and Jennifer Smith, with Marriage After God.
Jennifer Smith: Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.
Aaron Smith: And today we’re going to discuss why you should stop escaping the hard things in marriage. Thanks for joining us. We just want to invite you, as always, to subscribe to our channel, and we also wanted to invite you to take our 31-day marriage prayer challenge. We’re going to talk more about it later, but there’s information about in the description. You definitely should check that out.
Jennifer Smith: Today we’re going to be talking about escapism, or escaping the hard stuff in marriage. And I thought that topic would be really good. We actually mention it in The Unveiled Wife, a book that I wrote about our marriage. And it’s mentioned in Chapter 19. So, if you’re familiar with that book, if you have that book, go back and refer to that chapter. I think it’d be really encouraging to read again. Otherwise, if you haven’t got The Unveiled Wife yet, this is a shameless plug to encourage you to go and check that out.
Aaron Smith: It’s a book about our story, we’ve talked about it, we’ve done an episode about it a while ago, but it goes into depth about a lot of the stuff we went through in our marriage. The missionary travels, the hardships, how God got a hold of our hearts. But today we just wanted to discuss one of the topics in the book, it’s something that we got professional at, is escapism. Escaping the hard things that we are going through in our marriage, not confronting them, not dealing with them, just avoiding them. And we’re going to talk about why not to do that.
Jennifer Smith: I wanted to start by just giving a definition of what escapism is. And it is the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities. Especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.
Aaron Smith: Yeah. Some other things to add to that is, doing things to avoid it, like traveling, or always being busy, or hobbies. Those kinds of things all fall into the category of what we use in our life to escape dealing with things that need to be dealt with. An analogy I like to think of is, is how lightning, when it strikes, it always takes the path of lease resistance. And that’s what this is talking about, is going the path of least resistance in your marriage. Doing the thing, like, “Oh, I could deal with this. We could talk about this. We could figure out how to fix this. But instead, we’re going to go spend time with friends. We’re going to go do this thing over there.”
Jennifer Smith: And I would say that the reason that people do that is because it hurts the flesh. It’s too hard, or it doesn’t sound fun. Either it could be motivated by a sense of fear, or a sense of just not wanting to deal with it, and so your-
Aaron Smith: The pain is too much.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah.
Aaron Smith: And I don’t want to feel that pain. And it’s like pulling a splinter out. Just leave it, I don’t want to touch it, but you have to pull it out and it hurts. Or cleaning the wound. We don’t want to deal with it, and it’s never easy.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah.
Aaron Smith: Even though we’ve worked on it a lot in our marriage, it’s still hard to confront things that need to be confronted.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah. I was just gonna ask you to share somethings from our marriage of how we dealt with escapism. How did we escape? How good we were.
Aaron Smith: How good we got at it?
Jennifer Smith: Yeah. I think that the chapter in The Unveiled Wife was called escape artist, because we were really good at escaping the pain.
Aaron Smith: Yeah.
Jennifer Smith: To go and try and find other ways to fulfill that part of what we desired.
Aaron Smith: The tricky part is when you use good things to escape the hard things.
Jennifer Smith: Like what?
Aaron Smith: Well, we were missionaries. We were doing the Lords work. And I don’t think we weren’t doing the Lords work, God was using us and we were traveling and preaching the gospel, and trying to be good Christians, and do really good things for God. There was a lot of good that came out of it, a lot of fun that came out of it, but our … Us being constantly traveling and out, and doing this next adventure, and this next thing, and this next things, it was … We used it to keep our minds off of what we were going through. We were also, I feel naïve a little bit where we thought, “All we have to do is keep doing these good things and eventually this will get fixed.” But in reality, we just knew that we were afraid to deal with it. The sexual issues, the anger, the frustration, the bitterness that was growing and growing and growing. It was just easier to go and be working somewhere and enjoying this thing over here. And getting on a plane and going over there. And getting on a boat.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah. I was gonna say the opportunities that would come up, we were so quick to say yes to because we knew the excitement surrounding a new adventure or a new responsibility, or having to go do something, did distract us majorly from the realities of what our marriage was facing.
Aaron Smith: And you know? We did it a lot. We went to Washington to fundraise, and then we went to Africa for four months, and then we went to Florida for a year, and we went to Canada.
Jennifer Smith: Canada.
Aaron Smith: And then we’re like, “Let’s go home.” So we drove home, and God was definitely leading us in all of this, but it was for his purposes we were trying to hide, he was trying to draw out. All the time, all these things that we were doing that we thought was distracting us, actually amplified.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah.
Aaron Smith: A lot of the things that we were dealing with.
Jennifer Smith: You use the word hide, you want to share a little bit about referring to that.
Aaron Smith: Yeah, so we call it escapism, but in reality what it’s doing is, we’re just hiding. We’re just hiding from dealing with it. And there’s a story in the beginning of the bible in Genesis, and it’s of Adam and Eve, and the moment they send they ate of the God said, “Don’t eat of this fruit. And that day you’ll surely die.” They eat of it, and immediately they realize they’re naked. They’re like, “Oh my gosh. We’re naked. What are we doing?” And then God says, “Adam,” calls out to him. And what do they do?
Jennifer Smith: Hide.
Aaron Smith: They hide in a bush and they’re hiding and Gods calling out to them as if God didn’t know where they were.
Jennifer Smith: Right.
Aaron Smith: God says, “Why are you hiding?” And they’re like, “We noticed we’re naked, so we hid.” I wanted to read that real quick.
Jennifer Smith: This is in Genesis 3.
Aaron Smith: Go, Genesis 3, verse 8. It says, “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, where are you? And he said, I heard the sound of you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself. He said, who told you that you were naked, have you eaten of the tree which I commanded you not to eat?” They knew they did wrong, they knew that there was something they had to be confronted with.
Aaron Smith: God calls out to them, and they hide. This is what was happening to us. The whole time the Holy Spirits calling to us, telling us, “You need to work on this. There’s something that needs to be dealt with. There’s sin that’s being hidden. There’s this problem that needs to be fixed. There’s healing that needs to happen.” And we’re like, “Oh, what?” And let’s just hide. Let’s not talk about it. Let’s avoid. And one of the things that our traveling afforded was, was the ability to hide from people, also.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah. Community.
Aaron Smith: Community. We didn’t have to be around people. We didn’t have to be confronted. Even though everyone was, we could hand pick someone to talk to and they could help us, of course. We didn’t have to get confronted with anything, because people weren’t around us long enough. We would hide. The moment it would get too sticky or too hard, we would run away.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah, yeah.
Aaron Smith: That’s another thing that hiding allowed us to do. Do you remember how that felt? In the running? And the hiding?
Jennifer Smith: I definitely do. It was this weird conflict in my heart of wanting to be known, but not wanting to be known. That was really hard for me because I essentially hid from God and my relationship with him, and slowly by … Slowly, I pulled away from him and my relationship, and I also did the same exact thing with you. And even when we got to California, and God really started pressuring our hearts to confront the issues that we were facing, even then I still escaped, but in a different way. Can I share that a little bit?
Aaron Smith: Yeah, go ahead.
Jennifer Smith: You’re talking about traveling and being distracted in that way, in California we were set in one place, and we even started building community, and I still found a way through fantasy. A friend introduced me to Twilight when it was really big back then, and I wasn’t really a big reader, but she gave me this massive book and I started in on it, and I just found this place where I can enjoy romance, which we weren’t really-
Aaron Smith: Enjoying.
Jennifer Smith: Enjoying at all in our marriage. I would indulge in that. The thing that I recognized about that time, and it took me a couple months to realize, was that when I came up for air, or put the book down, should say-
Aaron Smith: Started thinking about what we were going through together.
Jennifer Smith: When I saw us, I noticed that it worsened. I noticed that our problems had amplified. I just want that to be an encouragement for people, or maybe some sort of warning. I don’t know. If you are escaping, it can be really dangerous because you will notice that when you do face whatever issue it is that you are wrestling with in your marriage, when you’re escaping the problem is intensifying. The problem is accumulating, and getting worse.
Aaron Smith: Yeah, hiding while the boat is sinking won’t stop the boat from sinking.
Jennifer Smith: Right. That’s a good analogy.
Aaron Smith: You come out and it’s actually deeper in the water. You’re like, “Uh oh.” You would escape into books and fantasies, and have that romantic, internal, emotional fantasy, and you would escape into that and I would escape into my pornography and my other addictions. And just avoiding us and all the while our fantasies and addictions are making our relationship more broken. Our escaping made our relationship more distant. And so instead of coming closer together, we were running away from each other.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah.
Aaron Smith: And away from God. It’s almost the opposite of that marriage triangle you see.
Jennifer Smith: I know.
Aaron Smith: You’re at the bottom and you’re going up towards God. Well, escapism is running away from God and each other. That’s the only way to describe it because it’s almost impossible to move forward with God and to get closer to God when you’re not dealing with the things that we need to be dealing with.
Jennifer Smith: Right.
Aaron Smith: Because God is like, “Why aren’t you walking in maturity here? Why aren’t you growing in this area? Why aren’t you becoming more the way that I’ve called you to be?” I’m not loving you the way I’m supposed to love you. You’re not respecting me and honoring me the way you’re supposed to honor me. And we’re both doing the opposite. There’s no way to be growing closer to God. Someone once told me, “God’s not going to tell you to do something else until you’ve done the things he already told you to do.”
Aaron Smith: We weren’t doing the thing that God’s already wanting us to do, but we, God brought us to a place of, allowed us to be broken, allowed us to be … Because he’s patient, and he’s a gentleman, allowed us to make the decisions we were making, even though he was constantly calling to us. And we were just avoiding that call. To finally get on our knees and be like, “Okay, Lord. We are done running.” And it wasn’t until we said we’re done running and done escaping that we’re just going to, “Here it is. We can’t escape it anymore. We don’t want to escape anymore.”
Jennifer Smith: We can’t hide.
Aaron Smith: We want healing.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah.
Aaron Smith: And so we laid it out and we just called it out for what it was, and we stopped hiding. What were some of the ways that we stopped escaping?
Jennifer Smith: Well, we had to recognize and identify the places that we were going to, other than each other. And so, I think there was a really big light bulb came on for me when I realized that I was consuming Twilight and fantasy books to satisfy this part of me that longed to experience romance. Putting those down, and seeing that I had idolized them over God and over our marriage, was really significant in our life, and at the same time you were coming to the same conclusion about pornography.
Aaron Smith: Yeah. What are some other things that people might use to escape? It could be anything right?
Jennifer Smith: Yeah. Gaming could be a huge one. Video games.
Aaron Smith: Yeah, spending hours on end just gaming to … Oh, I just need my time. Don’t talk to me.
Jennifer Smith: Pretty much any form of entertainment can be used for escapism. Going to the movies, or having an addiction to Netflix, or Amazon.
Aaron Smith: Binge watching.
Jennifer Smith: Binge watching shows.
Aaron Smith: Episodes.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah.
Aaron Smith: Which we did that a lot. We talked, one of the last episodes we did was about entertainment and marriage. One of the ways we escaped was we would just watch endless episodes of a show or movies. Even though we were doing that together, we really were just doing it to avoid communication.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah.
Aaron Smith: Avoid physical intimacy.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah.
Aaron Smith: To avoid feeling the pain that we were feeling. We were like, “Let’s just drown our misery at the movies.” Other ways is drugs, alcohol. Somethings that should just be cut out all together, and then other things that need to be prayed about or consulted with, and just finding that balance. Really, it’s not even a balance, it’s … None of the things we’re bringing up is to say, “Just cut it out. If you’re doing it, that means you’re escaping.” No.
Jennifer Smith: It comes down to your heart.
Aaron Smith: The point is, “Why are you using it?”
Jennifer Smith: Yeah.
Aaron Smith: Why are you running to those things? And you know. When you sit and think, you’re like, “Man, I absolutely go out with my friends all the time because I know I’m doing it to get away from my wife.” Or, “I’m digging into my books, or my movies every night because I don’t want to talk to my husband.” You know what things in your life you’re using to dampen the pain you’re feeling. To medicate. We always hear this self medication thing. Are you doing that? Are you self medicating with anything? Is it normal books? Non-fiction books? Are you just using that to just hide in these worlds that are not your current world? Because those things aren’t in themselves bad. But, if we’re using them to medicate, if we’re using them to shut off, to numb ourselves, then we’re doing something wrong. We’re hiding from what God would have for us to confront and deal with.
Jennifer Smith: If those listening have been wrestling with this escapism and they’re realizing right now, what’s the first thing that they should do to try and fix this problem?
Aaron Smith: There’s a scripture on Psalms, can you find that for me?
Jennifer Smith: I can read it.
Aaron Smith: Yeah.
Jennifer Smith: Psalms 139:23 through 24. It says, “Search me, oh God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts and see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Aaron Smith: Having the heart of David, God said that David was a man after his heart. Having a heart of David, saying, “Lord look inside of me and tell me if there’s anything that’s grievous, anything that’s wicked, anything that you want to cut right out of us.”
Jennifer Smith: Which is the total opposite of hiding.
Aaron Smith: It’s saying actually, “Look inside of me Lord. Find me. Search me.”
Jennifer Smith: Know me.
Aaron Smith: “Know me.” The second thing is, being willing to stop not talking about it. And saying, “Hey, we need to figure this out. If we keep hiding, if we keep avoiding, then it’s never going to get fixed.” The third thing would be, community.
Jennifer Smith: Yep.
Aaron Smith: We talk about this a lot. The number one thing apart from the Holy Spirit working in us and God being the only one that can change us, he’s the one that led us to community.
Jennifer Smith: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Aaron Smith: I’m sitting down at a table and we had other Christian couples that were just being freely open about their lives and the things that they dealt with and the way they thought, and the things that they believed. And how God was changing them.
Jennifer Smith: And sharing their perspective of our version of marriage, from their point of view. Like, “Hey, I noticed that you guys are bickering a lot.” Or, “I noticed this about you. What’s going on?” And just giving them that access to your life is really important.
Aaron Smith: Opening up because, one way is running away and hiding. Proverbs 18:1 says, “Whoever isolates themselves, seeks his own desire, he breaks out against all sound judgment.” This running away, that separating from community, from each other, it’s just being in darkness. It’s not being in light. And so going the opposite direction means coming closer, being more known. And so going to other mature Christian believers and saying, “I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know how to stop this. I don’t what to do about this situation.” And then letting them speak wisdom into your life. Letting them hold you accountable. That happened with both of us, and when we say doing that when we had people in our lives to walk with us, we actually can start growing. And changing, and cutting out the dead flesh in our life. Cutting out the dead things in our life. Allowing the Holy Spirit to search inside of us and tell us the areas, “Hey, I want to change this. I want to grow this. I want to mature this.”
Jennifer Smith: Yeah. That’s what we need.
Aaron Smith: And dealing with our marriage, not running from it, because as we always say, we’re a team. We’re to be more and more one every single moment, and every single day. Not dealing with the things that we were dealing with, didn’t cultivate oneness. It cultivated, twoness. Separateness. Those are a handful of things, that we can change to stop running away from each other.
Jennifer Smith: I would suggest, too, if you do come up for air or out of whatever you’re escaping into and you realize that that problem or conflict, or issue that you have in marriage, that you haven’t been facing, is a mountain, or a huge gaping canyon, and it’s just super painful to face, some people need counseling, and that’s okay. We want to be an encouragement to you guys and let you know that there’s nothing wrong with going to see a Christian counselor and sitting before them and-
Aaron Smith: It could actually be very healthy for you.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah, and talking to them about that and seeing if that could be a solution for you and your marriage. That’s just another way. We did want to read Romans 12:12. It says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” There’s going to be tribulation in marriage, I don’t think any marriage is free of conflict or issues arising or coming up. Tribulation and trials will come. How are we as Christians supposed to face it? It says, “Rejoice in hope.” Okay, hope is looking to the future for better days. “Being patient throughout that tribulation, and being constant in prayer.” And we wanted to encourage you guys, if you don’t have a habit of prayer in your marriage, we really want to encourage to establish that. As we’ve been doing this ministry, we’ve heard from a lot of couples, “I don’t know how to pray for my husband.” Or, “I don’t even know how to pray with my wife. I’ve never prayed out loud before.” We realize that this is a big problem because we need to be able to go before God and pray for one another, and pray over one another, and pray-
Aaron Smith: With each other.
Jennifer Smith: With each other. So, we created 31 days of prayer for my husband and wife. These are resources that are just meant to be a catalyst for a husband and wife to be praying for one another.
Aaron Smith: You get in the habit of it.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah. Because if you’re going to escape to anything, go to that.
Aaron Smith: Escape to prayer.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah.
Aaron Smith: That’s a good one.
Jennifer Smith: Escape to your prayer closet. We just want to encourage you guys that these prayer books, can be a huge benefit in your marriage. For those of you who do have an established habit of prayer in your marriage, just keep doing that because the word of God tells us to do that.
Aaron Smith: And we just want to end with the idea that having the perspective that the hard things are good, okay. That we recognize that we are going to go through trials, there’s no way to avoid them and avoiding them makes those trials worse. If your perspective is, “Okay. We’re going through something, let’s embrace it. Let’s allow the Lord to change us.” Because usually, these hard problems, are when both parties have to change. Some times it’s when one party has to change, but even then, the one party that is walking with God, can be praying and asking the Holy Spirit to go and get that, the heart of your spouse. And capture it. And transform it.
Aaron Smith: Having the perspective of the trial being a good thing, that it produces endurance, and endurance produces hope and steadfastness. These are good things for us. And they also strengthen the bond of our marriage when we walk through it correctly, instead of hiding from it. Hiding from it tears the sinews of the marriage apart and it makes them weaker. Embracing it and saying, “We’re going to hit this head on. I’m going to be praying today about this.” And that would be our first step, is that you just get on your knees and say, “Okay, Lord.” Like we said, having heart of David and saying, “Look inside of me. See inside of me. See inside of my marriage. And am I hiding anything, Lord? Am I running from anything? Is there anything in my life I’m using to escape the reality that I need to be facing?”
Aaron Smith: Because God wants you to be strong. He wants you to be powerful. And again, as we always say, the whole purpose of this podcast called A Marriage After God, is that you would be used for God and his purposes. If we’re only escaping, and if we’re never dealing with what God wants us to deal with, we’re never going to be useful for his kingdom. We’re going to be weak, and purposeless, and hopeless. And ineffective. We want to have the correct perspective on our hardships. We want to have the correct perspective on our trials. The correct perspective on the issues that we deal with in our marriage, and face them. And stop escaping them. Realize that the consequences of confronting them, are much, much tamer than the consequences of running away.
Jennifer Smith: Thanks again for joining us this week.
Aaron Smith: Don’t forget to check out the links in the description, and we look forward to having you next time. Did you enjoy today’s show? Find many more encouraging stories and resources at marriageaftergod.com. And let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.