We’ve all been betrayed and we’ve all betrayed others. I can almost guarantee this is true for all of us, although we only seem to remember the times when we’ve been betrayed. We conveniently “forget” the times we’ve betrayed others, in big and small ways.
Here’s the thing. When we allow our focus to remain on the deeply hurtful things people have done to us, it’s as if we tie a heavy chain around our ankles and toss ourselves into a deep, dark lake. We slowly sink deeper and deeper into murky darkness. We’re starved for life-giving oxygen. We slowly drown in self-pity. We become enveloped by resentment and that resentment becomes a poison to us and everyone around us!
Cut the chains of bitterness and resentment! Come up for air. Drop the “victim” attitude. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:15 to “see to it that no bitter root grows up among you to cause trouble and defile many”. Your choice to embrace and coddle your bitterness will surely be the death of your joy and the joy of those around you.
How can you get rid of this super destructive attitude of resentment? Here are some insights. Stop hitting the replay button on past hurts! Choose this day to be thankful for what you do have. Make a choice to have compassion on your offender, realizing that you’re not perfect either! If the resentment stems from current behavior, then seek godly counsel on establishing boundaries in that relationship. Finally, ask God to redeem your painful experience in some kind of way. He loves to do that! Romans 8:28 promises us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose.”
When a husband is clearly sinning against you through something like verbal abuse or an affair with another woman, it seems pretty clear that you should take a stand, draw boundaries, and maybe even have a time of separation. However, the Christian wife isn’t always as certain about how to handle a husband who simply seems to be selfish or very self-centered. This is the kind of husband who almost always does exactly what he wants to do, when he wants to do it, with little regard for the desires of his wife or children. What’s a wife to do?
First, realize that your husband’s selfishness is not okay with God, and thus, it shouldn’t be okay with you. In the famous love passage in 1 Corinthians 13, the Bible says love is not “self-seeking“, and in Philippians 2:4, the Bible says “each of you should look not only to his own interests but also to the interest of others.”
Second, you must realize that nothing is likely to change unless you sit down with your husband and bring the problem to his attention. Ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away isn’t going to work. You’ll grow resentful and eventually explode!
It’s time to gently and calmly tell your husband the truth about how you are being negatively impacted by his focus on doing what he wants without regard to you or your children. Ephesians 4:15 says we should “speak the truth in love“, so gently explain the problem. Then directly ask him if he is willing to begin considering your desires when the two of you disagree on something. Ask him if he is willing to work with you to forge a compromise the next time you disagree. Hopefully, by bringing the problem to his attention, he will begin considering your interests. If he doesn’t, it’s probably time to ask him to go with you to meet with a pastor or counselor.
From both personal experience and counseling wives in crisis, I can say with certainty that allowing resentment to go unchecked spells doom for a marriage! Think about it. If you are really upset with your husband about something, or really frustrated with him, or hurt by his behavior…do you respectfully discuss your feelings and concerns with him? Do you courageously deal with the issue, or do you tend to stuff it under the rug, hoping things will just magically get better?
If you’re a conflict avoider, it’s so very easy to stuff instead of confront! It FEELS safer and more peaceful to just hope that your husband changes his behavior. That way you won’t have any tense moments and you won’t get in a “fight”. Unfortunately, if you say nothing, nothing is likely to actually change. Sometimes a husband doesn’t even know what his wife is upset about! And here’s the real problem. If you don’t address your resentment, it will grow bigger and bigger and bigger until you are likely to explode months or years down the line. That resentment will have turned your heart cold and hard toward your husband, and you may end up saying those fateful words “I’m done”. Don’t let it get this far!
Your husband needs you to calmly and respectfully explain why you are upset and what you are asking him to change. He may disagree, but then you guys can talk about it. Talk it through. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you courage and the timing and the right words to bring up the concern with your husband…soon. Seek a counselor’s help if you need to. Just make sure you don’t let your resentment go unaddressed. As Hebrews 12:15 say, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Don’t let a bitter root start growing that ends up causing big trouble!
Your enemy has plans to blow-up your marriage. The Bible says in John 10:10 that Satan is out to “steal, kill, and destroy”, so make no mistake. The devil is working diligently to take down both you and your husband. He may relentlessly tempt your husband to view pornography, and your husband may cave into the temptation. Your heart will definitely be bruised if your husband falls into that trap. But Satan wants more than that. The enemy will relentlessly tempt you to treat your husband with scorn and disgust so that your marriage implodes.
This is where you have a choice. You can cooperate with the devil and give in to his temptations. You can allow him to have the victory. You can align yourself with his evil plans and watch your marriage get flushed down the toilet. Or you can refuse to cooperate with the devil. Even when your husband does something that seriously disappoints you, you can tell your husband that you are still “for him”…that you believe he has a good heart…that you are not giving up on him.
I remember the time several years ago that a friend of mine found out that her husband had slipped up and viewed porn after over a year of being free from pornography. Of course, she was devastated, but she chose wisely in that moment. She chose to speak words of life to her husband. I’d love to share the text she sent me shortly after his confession: “So thankful he was honest. Still hurts. But the enemy will not win! My marriage is worth fighting for”. What a fantastic attitude! She refused to cooperate with the devil. How about you?
Do you keep replaying your husband’s past mistakes over and over again in your mind? Do you find yourself dwelling on how he’s disappointed you in the past? Let it go! Thoughts like that become toxic…to you and your marriage. Hebrews 12:15 makes this point: “See to it that no bitter root grows up among you to cause trouble and defile many.” If you keep rehearsing your husband’s past failures, you will end up growing more and more resentful of your husband. The resulting bitterness acts like poison to your own heart. You become a dried up, miserable woman.
Even more damage is caused when you verbalize those past mistakes to your husband. Yet many wives do that. They repeatedly bring up their man’s past mistakes and almost wield them as a weapon against their husband. His heart gets sliced and diced in the process. His heart becomes poisoned against his wife as well.
It’s time to decide to release your husband from his past failures. The Bible is pretty clear about your need to release bitterness and resentment. Ephesians 4:31 says “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger…” Sochoose to exercise the same grace God has given you!! News flash: You’re not perfect either. By the way, releasing your man from his past mistakes doesn’t mean you should ignore current sin. If he is currently sinning against you, determine to respectfully confront him and work through the problem, perhaps with the help of a counselor or pastor.
I’m an expert conflict avoider. How about you? I grew up in a household where there was a lot of yelling and rage and verbal abuse. As a result, everything within me always tried desperately to avoid anything in my marriage that could have resulted in tension, raised voices, or anything remotely resembling conflict.
However, avoiding conflict is a recipe for disaster in a marriage. I learned that the hard way in my first marriage, which failed. Here’s the thing. If you don’t address the things that are really bothering you about your husband or your marriage, a seed of bitterness is planted in your heart. That seed slowly takes root and grows, and after months and years go by, you will most likely grow to despise your husband and want a divorce! Not good.
So, commit to respectfully, lovingly, and diligently address the things that are bothering you within your marriage. Hebrews 12:15 warns us not to let “any bitter root grow up among you to cause trouble…” So, ask God to give you the courage to gently and respectfully discuss your concerns with your husband. Ask God to give you the courage to express your needs and desires to your husband. Do not become invisible. When you start stuffing your feelings and immediately cave in during disagreements, toxic resentment will start to grow inside you. Don’t let that happen!