3 Things I Do in My Marriage to Combat Bitterness
I recently had a reader contact me asking if I could address the bitterness that’s growing in her heart towards her husband and what can she do about it. Well, I don’t believe she’s alone in these feelings because I think it’s pretty common among wives. In fact, I believe there are so many wives who experience this towards their man that I even mentioned it in my post, 20 Reasons Why a Wife Doesn’t Want to Have Sex! So I figured I’d share some thoughts and ways to help you combat it.
So, you’ve tried to forgive him and you thought you did, but deep down inside the seeds of bitterness are starting to grow and your love for him is starting to diminish by the second, and now…
He’s let you down….again.
His words were harsh towards you….again.
He’s made poor financial decisions…again.
He’s unconcerned with your feelings…again.
He’s remained distant towards you…again.
He’s checked out on his role of a father…again.
He’s dabbled in that sin…again.
Because of these things (and more), bitterness has grown in your heart.
Here’s what bitterness is in case you’re not quite sure and you’re just making assumptions that you and your man’s love story is now all over because you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling.
- Bitterness keeps a record of wrongs.
- Bitterness harbors resentment.
- Bitterness is anger with unforgiveness.
Bitterness then leads way to anger…
- Anger hardens your heart towards your husband.
- An angered heart towards your man leads to disrespect.
- And men need respect to feel loved.
The wrong kind of anger leads to sin…
- An unforgiving spirit is sin.
- And your prayers go unanswered because of your sin.
Do you see how all of this can affect your marriage as well as your spiritual life?
Bitterness, if it’s not choked out of your flesh, can destroy your marriage. The love story that you once had is now turning into a horror story.
Now let’s see if we can fix this problem.
I believe the first part of dealing with bitterness is recognizing what’s taking place in your heart towards your husband so start by asking yourself some of these questions:
- Are you constantly disappointed in him?
- Frustrated with him?
- Cold and closed off towards him?
- Short, snappy, and nasty?
Often times our men don’t try to intentionally hurt us or let us down. They’re just like us; imperfect humans trying to figure things out, who, from time to time, just happen to make poor choices and/or respond in the flesh the same way we do.
God’s forgiven the inexcusable in us but for some reason we can’t seem to extend that same grace and mercy towards our man.
Is it because we measure up to God better than he does?
We sin less?
We’re more righteous?
I kinda think we’ve watched one too many Disney princess movies and we’ve become disillusioned about our Knight in Shining Armor. Prince Charming always saves the day in the movies and he certainly doesn’t mess up and let the princess down on a continual basis, now does he?
But that’s not the same as our love story, is it? Our men clearly let us down over and over again.
As do we!
And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Luke 7:37, 38
Jesus Christ freely extended grace and mercy to a known sinner, and what did she do? She showed her devotion to Him.
We are all sinners, aren’t we? We fall short over and over and over. Day in and day out. And when we do blow it, how many of us would like another person to point that out to us?
Condemn and criticize us in the process?
Continually bring it up throughout the marriage?
Get the cold shoulder because you did a poor job of taking care of the kids that day or because you burnt the dinner again?
Hurl “I told you so’s” at us?
No one would sign up to be treated like that. If they do, then they’re crazy!
I believe every single person deals with bitterness in some way because that’s just our flesh screaming out that we’ve been wronged. But we need to learn to control our feelings and turn to Christ for healing, security, unconditional love and forgiveness.
The answer in dealing with bitterness is easy peasy.
- Let go.
- Be gracious and merciful.
But overcoming bitterness is extremely difficult.
Training your mind and your emotions in order to do these things, well that’s a whole nother story! If you’re having a difficult time with bitterness, here’s a verse to memorize:
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31,32
3 Things I Do In My Marriage to Combat Bitterness
- First and foremost, I remember that I’m a sinner too!
- I try so hard to let things go and not keep a record of wrongs (since keeping a record of wrong is not loving and it’s a sin.)
- I seek to dwell on the Word of God so my mind can be transformed.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2
I know a woman who would not let certain issues go. In no way, shape, or form was she going to cave in on her opinions. It didn’t matter if the person she was angry and bitter towards was a loved one on their deathbed. She was going to remain right on her stance regardless of their failing relationship even if it was her father, (true story!) I saw this several times throughout my life and how she allowed this sin to eat at her. The unfortunate thing about bitterness is if you don’t deal with it, it will destroy your relationship and perhaps even you. For this woman, bitterness has robbed her not only of close family relationships but also of her mental and physical health as well.
It’s your choice, my friend. No one can force you to hand your disappointments, concerns, frustrations, fears, and the anger you have towards your husband over to the Lord. But what you can do is remember the forgiveness that Christ has freely extended to you, and in turn, extend that same forgiveness to your husband out of devotion to the Lord. By doing this, not only are you pleasing the Lord, but you’re also spiritually protecting your relationship from the Enemy since he comes to steal, kill and destroy.
Live a poured out life for Christ,
Thank you jolene, for being such a willing instrument for God. Your messages are always a blessing…even through the toughest times!
This is true and written on the assumption that the husband is repentant, but slips up once in a while. But, what about us bitter wives who deal with unchanging husbands? It is terribly difficult to not be bitter when, say, he won’t give his wife pleasure in the bedroom and is very one-sided, or leaves her to take care of everything while he lays in bed and watches tv. What then?
God forgives the inexcusable, but said not to sin anymore. God forgives, but He doesn’t pardon everyone automatically…..we have to go to Him and repent.
I think this blog is a little bit too simplistic in not addressing the root of much bitterness. There are things in my marriage that I should definitely learn to let go and not keep account of: how many times I have to ask my husband to take out the trash, whether or not I think my husband is wasting time reading random (to me, useless) informational articles, whether or not I agree with how my husband handles the mechanic, etc., etc. But other things go much deeper. The woman described in the article who would not “back down” even when it came to a relationship with her father likely was very deeply hurt (if not abused) at some point in her life. Determination to stick to one’s convictions often comes out of a deep desire (and need!) to protect oneself. Also, choosing to abandon relationships because one party is dysfunctional, abusive, unrepentant, or extremely unhealthy is not always wrong. Sin separates us from ourselves, from others and from God, and when one person lives in a continual state of unrepentant sin, sometimes we, who are trying to follow what is right, must separate ourselves from this poison. This does not have to turn into bitterness, and it can, in fact, be healing.
This is very true.
Is it still bitterness when all your husband seems to do is smoke synthetic weed, lie and occasionally steals? I married him so blind. He was at the time an addict to meth and being the sheltered girl I was, I had no clue! I broke him from the meth, although he was still smoking weed (at the time, the real stuff.) 2 daughters later, I am miserable. I feel tied down to something I have fallen out of love with. He lies about how much money he has spent- by the way, I am the only worker- knowing I can look on my statements! Preachers don’t seem to understand how divorce starts, but I am so past that point. I am trying to warm my heart up again, but how can I when another lie, drug and huge disappointment comes up? I am ready to throw in the towel and call it done, but because of my kids, I just don’t know what to do anymore- they love their daddy.
Lacey, I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re going through! Your husband is in bondage with his addictions that only Jesus Christ can break. Pray for his soul to be touched and his heart to be changed. Jesus can break any chains in one’s life if they are willing to surrender to Him. Walk your walk in Christ regardless of what your husband does or doesn’t do.
Lacy, I wouldn’t want to repeat myself, but look at my post above. For the sake of your children, you may need to look into deeper help and intervention than merely rooting out bitterness in your life.
I can relate. Mine also has this addiction. When he is out his body is in sooo much pain. He takes his frustrations for everthing out on me. Never physical. Mental. I also am the bread winner. He has severe ADHD. He does try. He works for our landlord. It usually does not come with pay. When it does. He gives me money. He knows im unhappy. He says he wants it to be better. I guess im the lucky one. Rite? He never lets me finish a sentence. Says i never let him talk. Says I never admit to a wrong. Yet I pay ALL the bills. Inc His child support. He is dirty sloppy messy. Picks nothing up. Im tired of playing mommy. He takes every thing i say wrong. Then says its me that takes him wrong. Im exhausted!
I think it is pretty simple to see that this blog post does not pertain to you. Bitterness of the kind when I forget to take out the trash is different from the extreme situation you are in. Warming up your heart to try again sounds like a crappy way to live. Not the way Jesus intended. Sure, pray for the dude. But prayer and forgiveness does not mean returning to the abuse- the lies- the drugs. It could mean taking your kids and finding a new place to live. If you are the main wage earner, you have the ability to walk out. Let him know that he can’t continue living that way and expect you in his life or contact with his kids.
Forgiveness does not mean returning to an extremely unhealthy situation. Or one that is potentially damaging and abusive. It means letting go of the control their past has on you. Give your kids a better life and let them see that their mom is a hero.
Ted, please don’t be so flippant about divorce, especially if you’re claiming it’s for the children’s sake.
Lacey, I am so sorryfor your situation, and I pay that God will lead your family out of this desert. God is the only one who can heal your husband, but He uses human instruments, and I strongly suggest you actively seek help for your husband and pray that he will be open to seeing help. You do need to protect yourself and your children from a hopeless situation, but please pursue Grace and healing for him, discerning in prayer what God’s will is for you, before you turn away. My step-father, for example, is a recovered alcoholic, and I think he is probably the most grace-filled of all my parents. How much different my step-sister’s life could have been, though, if her mother had been open to see that day. Divorce can be a necessary evil in situations of danger, but it is always a great sorrow and should be most carefully discerned. Hope may still be possible.
But do not try to go through this valley alone–seek God’s help, seek others who can help, and seek God’s plan for you and your family. Only He knows the steps in your path and what is best for you. Praying in solidarity with you!
I agree that sometimes the roots of bitterness need to be addressed: first by prayer, but then sometimes other help is needed. A willing pastor or a competent Christian counselor is often needed to help bring about the emotional connections that are missing in many unhappy marriages, after identifying root causes, working through wounds, and ultimately finding forgiveness. It’s not always as simple as you make it sound to just erase bitterness. But not everyone can find or afford or feel comfortable with a third party. This blog is a lovely touchstone, especially for happy, well adjusted couples who just need a “tune-up.” But there are also good books out there. One excellent resource I can personally recommend is the book “Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations For a Lifetime of Love” by Dr. Sue Johnson. It isn’t Biblically centered, but is good common sense, and religiously neutral — and it is saving my marriage of twenty-six years — by teaching my husband and I both to find and root out bitterness that has deep roots.
Thanks for sharing the book.
Really really struggling with this.
Disappointed every day. Sometimes multiple times a day.
Bookmarked this post and will make myself re-read it.
What a beautiful message.God bless you sister.
Nice message. Bitterness is the Enemy! In happy times choose love. In bad times, assume love. Always CHOOSE LOVE. 🙂
Visiting you from the Happy Wives Club Link Up.
I am in a terrible situation now and I need a Godly advice. I have been married now for 11years. Just when I was due to have our 4th child my husband went on a business trip. I explained to him to postpone this trip as this was my 4th caeserean section and I was very terrified something could go wrong but he decided to go away anyway. As we’re living in a different country away from family, I only had my mum around to look after my other kids whilst I went in for the c section alone. He got back few weeks after my delivery and I forgave him but anytime I remember what he’s done my heart breaks as I feel let down and humiliated. He tells me even if he were around he can’t do anything for me as hes not God. How do I move past this as I don’t want this to block my prayers to God.
My husband is a recovering alcoholic and a sexually deviant man. He has inherited an abusive mindset from his father. In all honesty I feel a lot of our marital problems are results of my choosing sin. I was warned by many in my church community not to marry him but I gave in to flesh and the soul ties that resulted made it hard for me to break free of bondage to him. He has come a long way since our marriage but deep down he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He goes to church with me just to please me but he doesn’t truly commit himself to Jesus inside his heart. This Sunday our pastor asked him and other men to read the Bible and when we got home he promised to me he would read it at 4 pm. 5 pm I held him accountable and was met with wrath. At first he lied to me and said that he had already read the Bible when he went out to the car to mediate. I knew that was a lie because he went to the car to fix it and he didn’t have the Bible on him. I reminded him that Bible specifically says that God hates a lying tongue and that’s when he got defensive and pushed the Bible towards my face like a weapon and began very calmly saying I was possessed by demons and needed to read the Bible instead. I felt so helpless because I could tell he was twisting God’s Word to hurt me because he hated being called out for his lie. I sinned in anger by retaliating against him by mimicking him. But he’s physically stronger than I am and he threw and destroyed two Bibles we were given by our Church when we stood up to give our faith to Jesus. When I held the Bibles up to him like he was doing to me he got violent. He kept holding his up but threw mine away. Each time I’d rush to pick up my Bible like he was holding his he would rush towards me and keep using physical force to stop me. I started shouting for help and he began purposely falling against objects in our home so he can look like a victim is someone calls the cops. I am a bitter wife as you say. I think I’m bitter because I didn’t obey God. I knew he wasn’t the right man to marry but I thought marriage was a big commitment and if he’s giving me that level of commitment then he truly loves me and will change. One year anniversary is coming up. He’s changed only superficially. I’m not perfect but at least I don’t have a deceptive heart and I don’t deliberately lie in God’s name. I’ve tried my best to be his helpmate and I’m bitter because he won’t even hold me when I cry out in pain. Two days ago I woke up from a nightmare crying out to Jesus after seeing a dream that my older son was hurting overseas where he serves our nation. My husband heard me sobbing and hyperventilating but he didn’t move a muscle to comfort me. Yet when we are in public around people he acts like a very loving and caring husband. My husband is a deceptive tongue ma’am. He’s prayed for months to Jesus with me each night thanking God for keeping him faithful and alcohol free while I sensed he was lying. Months later I discovered he was indeed offering false prayers to Jesus each night while sinning secretly for months. His lies came out only after he came home with blood dripping down his head after falling drunk at work. He even lied to workers compensation and got money after filing a false claim. You see I’m bitter because I’m married to an insincere man incannot dare to trust. I’m bitter because I have not been successful yet at closing my heart to him and to the constant pain that comes from loving him. I don’t want to leave my marriage because despite the bruises I have on my body I still love him. I wish my prayers would be heard and we both be blessed with a Goldlier marriage. Sadly it’s only one sided desire to want a marriage where God is our first and top most. Pray for us please.
Please don’t show my real name and email. I needed a safe place to talk. Thanks
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