That’s what we see in this passage.
Most commentators take this to be a kind of dream sequence. But it depicts the feelings that often occur in marriage.
Perhaps the woman’s husband was late in coming home that night. Perhaps for work. Perhaps for other reasons. And so she went to bed in anger and resentment, falling asleep before he came home. And in her dreams, she hears her husband calling, asking her to let him in because the door is locked.
But in her anger, she snaps, “I’m already in bed. Do I have to get up just to let you in?”
In Ephesians 4:26-27, Paul tells us,
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
That we will get angry with our spouse is a given. Inevitably we do things to hurt each other whether we intend to or not. But Paul charges us not to sin in our anger. Not to hold on to anger or resentment, because in doing so, we give Satan a foothold in our lives, and in this case, our marriage.
But this woman held on to resentment toward her husband for being late. Maybe he had had a pattern of coming home late. Maybe it was just this one night, but he had failed to call. At any rate, when he finally came back, she had locked him out.
We may not lock our spouse out of the house (at least I hope you don’t), but how often in our anger, do we lock them out of our hearts?
As the spouse locked out, how do we respond? I think Solomon gives us a clue. He doesn’t try to force his way in. Rather, he simply leaves a sign of his love. It says in verse 5, that when the woman finally came to open the door for him, she found it covered in myrrh. In their culture, lovers would do this to show that they had been there. In modern terms, he left her flowers.
Sometimes our spouses gets angry with us. Sometimes we feel it’s justified. Sometimes we don’t. But if we don’t want Satan to get a foothold in our marriage, we shouldn’t respond to anger with anger, but with love. Apologize, if necessary. And remind them of your love.
In her dream, as she saw her lover’s efforts to reach out, she finally responded, but it was too late. He was gone. So she went out looking for him. It’s possible as she did so, she was beating herself up for her own attitude, which is perhaps why she dreamed of the watchmen beating her.
When others asked her why she was desperate to find him, she told them of all the things she loved about him. It is something worth doing, even in our times of anger toward our spouse. It’s easy to focus on all the negative things about them. But it is especially during those times that we should think of all the things we love about them.
And while she talks about his physical features, she also describes him as the one who loves her, as a lover and a friend. That’s what we should remind ourselves of too. That though our spouse may fail us, they do love us.
Perhaps it’s as her friends ask her, “Where is your lover that we may search for him,” that she awakes to find her husband by her side “browsing among the lilies.” (See chapter 4, verse 5, and chapter 5, verse 13).
All her anger is forgotten, as she says,
I am my lover’s and my lover is mine. (6:3)
Marriage does not become a bed of roses naturally. It takes work. It takes cultivating. And part of that is dealing with our anger and the anger of our spouses in a right way.
How about you? How do you deal with anger in your marriage?