Hitting the replay button in marriage

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…”  So choose 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.

Are you giving the devil this foothold?

The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26 – 27, “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.

Well….I almost gave the devil just such a foothold in my marriage the other day.  My husband had acted in a way that really bothered me.  I was steaming for hours and couldn’t even bring myself to talk to him about it because I feared we’d get embroiled in a huge conflict.  So, I went to bed early, by myself. 

I am so thankful the Holy Spirit prompted me to get out of bed and go speak with my husband.  I sensed that I was giving the devil a “foothold” in my marriage through me stuffing the issue and letting resentment grow.  So, I went and found my husband in the living room, knelt by his side as he was sitting on the couch and told him that I truly do see so many good qualities in him.  I also told him why his behavior had bothered me. 

I know you’re thinking he agreed with my assessment, but he didn’t!  However, a good thing did happen.  We calmly acknowledged our difference of opinion and I was able to go to sleep in peace.  There was no wedge between me and my husband.  Don’t allow the enemy to gain a foothold in your marriage.  Resist the temptation to go to sleep with simmering anger and resentment.

3 keys when asking him to change

If your husband has an addiction or often engages in some kind of destructive or sinful behavior, you have 2 choices.  Choice # 1: You can wring your hands in despair and do nothing…which means that his disturbing behavior will likely continue, and your heart will slowly grow cold toward your husband.  Choice #2:  You can courageously talk to your husband and request him to change his behavior (or get help in changing his behavior).  From personal experience, I highly recommend choice #2!

Here are 3 keys that are especially important if you choose to address this issue with your husband.

  1.  Be very specific about what you’re asking your husband to do in order to change his behavior.  For instance, if he has a drinking or pornography problem, he will almost certainly need help in disentangling himself from this addiction.  So search out helpful 12-step programs or reputable counselors in your area ahead of time and tell him that in order for you guys to keep moving forward in your marriage, you need him to attend a specific number of sessions over a specific period of time.  I would certainly recommend that he attend some kind of program/counselor at least once a week for at least 6 months.  Addictions and other sinful patterns are hard to break. He will need sustained help.
  2. Expect your husband to be unhappy about this request!  Many husbands will try to blame you or other circumstances for their personal problems.  Many husbands will also attend a program or see a counselor for one or two sessions and then say “it isn’t helping me”.  That’s usually just an excuse.  Don’t accept that answer, unless they are willing to try a different program or counselor right away.
  3. Balance your request with words of hope and encouragement.  Proverbs 18:21 says Death and life are in the power of the tongue.  Remember, you’re asking your husband to do some very hard work, so speak life-giving words to him. Tell him that you see good qualities in him, and that you will do anything you can to help him on his journey to break free from addiction

Does this destructive attitude have a grip on you?

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.”

If your heart is growing hard toward him…

I know what it’s like for a wife’s heart to grow hard and cold toward her husband.  I let that happen in my first marriage of 18 years…a marriage that ended in divorce.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Your marriage and your family are worth fighting for!

In my experience, the reason a wife’s heart grows cold usually comes down to two things.  She has not established firm, clear boundaries on disrespectful or destructive behavior…or she has expected her husband to make her happy and blames him for failing to do so.  Could one of these reasons apply to you?

Boundaries:  It is Biblical to lovingly confront someone who is sinning against you and establish boundaries in that relationship…with the goal being that the person will repent and be welcomed back into full relationship.  Read Matthew 18:15-17 to learn what Jesus has to say about this.  Also keep in mind Galatians 6:1, which says. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.”

Expectations:  If you expect your husband to make you happy, realize you have an unrealistic expectation!  The only one who you can trust 100% to bring you fulfillment, joy, and perfect love is….the Lord!  Make the relationship with Him your top priority, and once you feel secure in that relationship, your heart will likely become softer and more compassionate toward your husband.

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