Cutthroat Marriage


I’m a Food Network competition junkie.

For me, culinary artistry paired with some sort of outlandish rivalry is the perfect mix. Whether it’s Chopped or Cupcake Wars, I love to see what chefs will prepare under pressure with less-than-ideal ingredients.

My favorite show of late?

Cutthroat Kitchen.

If you aren’t familiar with this series, it’s where “sabotage isn’t only encouraged, it’s for sale.”

At the start of each episode, super-host Alton Brown hands four chefs $25,000 each. These stacks of cash are intended for that-less-than-friendly purpose I mentioned. Yep, that’s right, sabotage. Before and during the show’s three rounds, the competitors are given opportunities to use this money to purchase what I like to call “specialty items” at auction.

Sometimes these items provide one chef with an advantage while adding injury to his or her opponents. For example, the highest bidder can purchase “the sole right to taste” or “the only chef allowed to fry.”

Other times these items just throw metaphorical arsenic into a foe’s recipe for success. One rival is given Reynolds Wrap in place of utensils. Yep, first they have to sculpt a make-shift knife and spoon before they can even start prepping. Another has their standard eggs swapped for one, huge ostrich egg. Happy boiling … or not. There are those who are even unfortunate enough to be forced to cook all their food on a camp stove. Minus the fun of s’mores and fireside singing.

While I love to observe this battle of strategy and sabotage on TV, it’s not something I crave in my real, day-to-day life. Yet this idea of sabotage — which defines as “any undermining of a cause” — isn’t confined to the Food Network. Or to high-stakes business deals. Or to ice-skating competitions. There are times we, as wives, sabotage — or undermine — the unity God intends and desires for our marriages.

The truth is it’s not so hard to turn our relationship with our husband into a game of cutthroat marriage. At least it’s not for me.

It happens every time I put me — and not Jesus — at the center of my marriage.

When my hunger to win trumps my passion for peace with my husband.

When I decide being right is more important than being united.

When having the last word becomes the ultimate prize.

It’s a problem that’s plagued marriage since the beginning. Since that first wife allowed curious disregard to sabotage perfect unity.

And it’s a battle I’d venture to guess you face just like me and our very, very great grandmother.

How can we make sure we aren’t engaging in a game of cutthroat marriage?

In one of my favorite New Testament books, James addresses the issue of disunity within the body of Christ. He writes in James 4:1-2:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.

In this chapter, James doesn’t merely pinpoint that it’s me-centeredness that’s sabotaging these first-century relationships. He goes on to offer strong instructions on how to remedy it in verses 7-10:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Let’s pause and chew on that. Let’s savor that for a moment.

When me-centeredness threatens to undermine our marriages, these “specialty items” that James presents to his readers are things you and I can and should employ.

We can resist the hunger to win arguments.

We can purify our hearts of the need to be right.

We can humble ourselves by swallowing that last word.

To what end? Unity, peace, joy, growth.

And do you know what the best part is? We don’t have to fork over any William McKinleys or Grover Clevelands to purchase these items. When we draw near to God and seek to put Him at the center of our marriage — and not ourselves — He freely equips us with these advantages. He gives us His Word and His Spirit to help us.

This doesn’t mean we’ll always choose or act perfectly. What it does mean is that God gives us the tools we need not to win each round for ourselves, but to win the competition for the team.

It’s a strategy that may not go far on Cutthroat Kitchen. But I’ll tell you this, it goes a long way in protecting the unity of our marriages. And to me, that’s worth a whole lot more than $25,000.

Be encouraged!



  • Jenn

    LOVE the show as well and so glad you saw this connection. I am feeling like that just may be what is going on in my marriage lately and I have been playing the saboteur. Thank you for this great post, Ashliegh.

  • Leslie

    What happens when you do it all. And still the husband continues to get a win. With biblical backing then what?

  • Jackie

    I found your post interesting but my problem with the show you mentioned is that it encourages meanness and stabbing people in the back. From the commercials I have seen I could never watch such a show. Maybe I am a Old Fuddy Duddy but when I was growing up that type of behavior was looked down upon. What are we telling our children when we say one thing and then watch a show such as Cutthroat Kitchen. It tells them that what we tell them when we are teaching them isn’t important. Like I said I’m an old Fuddy Duddy and at age 63 I’m not ashamed of that. Because of that I have children who know that shows like Cutthroat Kitchen are not what the Lord wants us to watch.

    • Ashleigh Slater

      Hi Jackie, thanks for your comment. I appreciate your concerns and certainly respect your decision not to watch, “Cutthroat Kitchen.” I think it’s good that you are sensitive and thoughtful in your media choices. We are at our house also. There are a lot of programs we choose not to watch. When it comes to this particular show, my husband, kids, and I clearly understand and interpret it as a game. Not as an example for real life. The show itself is competitive and includes sabotage, but it also has a playful tone to it. And because we actively engage media with our kids on a daily basis, they don’t hear us saying one thing and watching another when it comes to “Cutthroat Kitchen.” Rather, they are learning to analyze and interpret with our help the behavior of sabotage on television as something we don’t practice in real, daily life. Again, thanks for sharing your concerns with me!

  • Lost

    Hi Ashleigh….my wife is a competitor, I am less so. She is a marathon runner and had always been driven but I’m worried she has been overwhelmed by ego and pride in this. We’ve been married for 22 years and she is leaving me to be alone. She wants me to be competitive and to be better than her, yet this is not me. I’m a runner too but I enjoy doing it with her. She’s drawn away due to this and I am here, standing and waiting. She can’t stand to see me or talk, just text. With our kids she’s fine but she says she’s done.

    • Ashleigh Slater

      I’m sorry to hear of the difficulty you are having in your marriage. I encourage you to pray, not give up, and possibly seek out counsel from godly mentors or your pastor.

  • Coral

    Such a great piece of writing!!! Thank you so much for sharing it!!! God bless you even more, as you and all of us practice His word. God bless. Thank you once again.

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