This is toxic 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…”  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.

What conflict avoiders must know!

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!

Are you giving Satan 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, over the years of my marriage to Raul, I didn’t always obey that instruction and my disobedience was almost disastrous!  One occasion comes to mind as a good example.  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 went to bed by myself, wrapped in a blanket of resentment, bitterness, and ugly thoughts about my husband.  As I lay there steaming, that resentment started morphing into thoughts such as “I’d be better off without him” and “He’s such a jerk. I’m going to be cold as ice toward him from now on.”

I am so thankful the Holy Spirit finally broke through and 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.

This is toxic in relationships

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.”

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

If your heart is growing cold 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.

How to avoid “crazy cycle” in marriage

In every marriage, there will certainly be times where you find yourself disappointed or frustrated with your husband.  The question isn’t…how can you and I avoid those challenging times?  The question is…how are we going to respond to the challenge?

I’ve met many wives who allow themselves to sink into self-pity or get all riled up with anger toward their husband.  Neither one of those responses is helpful!  In fact, a crazy cycle begins in the marriage.  The wife lets her husband know how disappointed she is in him…he feels like a failure so he either responds with mean words or withdraws…she gets even more disappointed…and the cycle continues!  Please allow me to suggest a couple of new ways to look at those times when your husband has frustrated or disappointed you:

Instead of focusing solely on what he’s doing wrong, choose to rejoice in what he’s doing right.  This is the essence of Philippians 4:8 “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  In other words, instead of developing a sour taste in your mouth by dwelling on his every fault, choose to look at your husband as a work in progress.  God doesn’t transform a person overnight (including you!).  So, choose to relish in the sweetness of every good thing your husband does and every good choice he makes.  For your soul, it will be like sipping on sweet lemonade instead of sucking on bitter lemons.

P.S.  You’ll look a lot more attractive to your husband when your mouth isn’t puckered up like you’ve been sucking on sour lemons!

P.S.S. If your husband is WAY out of bounds with his behavior and actually sinning against you, you may need to establish some firm boundaries, while at the same time choosing to remind yourself of his good qualities as well!

Blame-shifting

Isn’t it so very easy to see your husband’s faults?  Isn’t it super simple to see the wrongs of your mother-in-law or your co-worker?  Yep.  I can clearly see another person’s sin, but rarely do I take an honest look at my own shortcomings!

In a marriage, this tendency to only see another’s sin can be deadly.  If you allow yourself to focus on your spouse’s failures or flaws, you will start becoming resentful, depressed, discouraged and hopeless.  Don’t get me wrong.  This doesn’t mean a wife shouldn’t ask for changes if her husband is sinning against her. She may indeed need to set firm boundaries.  However, this DOES mean that she should also take a serious look at her own behavior!

My husband and I have met with many couples over the years and, tragically, we’ve seen far too many wives eagerly point out their husband’s shortcomings while failing to seriously acknowledge their own flaws.  Many wives will say the words “Oh, I know I’m not perfect either”, but then their next 10 sentences are filled with complaints about their husband. There is rarely a serious inventory of their own shortcomings or ways in which they may have contributed to problems in the marriage.

Let’s do better! Let’s stop blame-shifting.  Yes, we often engage in blame-shifting, which means we blame someone else for our own wrong behavior!  For instance, a wife will blame her husband’s flaws for why she became disrespectful or why she rudely refused to talk to him at all, treating him as if he was invisible and worthless.

Ladies, let’s ask God to show us our own faults and weaknesses so that we can change for the better.  Let’s stop shifting the blame for our own unkind or sinful behavior. Not only will your husband appreciate this new humility and honesty, but you will likely thrive as well!  Proverbs 28:13 puts it this way:  Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

P.S.  Yes, I know that husbands also can engage in blame-shifting, but for the purposes of this devotional, I’m writing to wives!

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

3 ways for wife to stop negative thoughts

After many years of listening to couples in distress, I’ve learned something really interesting.  There often seems to be a tendency for one or both spouses to make negative assumptions about the motivations of their mate or to jump to the most negative conclusions during communication!

I believe both these tendencies are instigated by the devil who would like nothing more than to get you to think negative, unflattering thoughts about your husband.  The devil WANTS you to jump to the most negative conclusions about your husband. The devil WANTS you to misunderstand what your husband is saying so that you will be hurt, frustrated and anxious. 

The first step in fighting against this tendency is to realize what the enemy is up to!  We must be alert to his tactics.  1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Applying this verse in our marital communication means that we continually check ourselves to see if we’ve started jumping to negative conclusions and assigning negative motives to our spouse.

Secondly, if we notice that we are reaching a negative assumption during communication, we ask for clarification from our spouse!  We don’t just start internally grumbling inside about what a jerk our husband is.  We don’t verbally attack them for being a horrible person. We actually pause and ask them to clarify what they meant when they said ___________.  Sometimes it’s not even the words that were said but the facial expression or tone of voice.  Again, ask for clarification.  You might say something like, “When you said that, I felt like you were letting me know that I’m not a good mother.  Is that what you meant to say?”

Thirdly, we must start training our minds to assume the most gracious motivations of our spouse instead of the worst!  It’s so easy to jump to negative motivations though, isn’t it?  Your husband forgets to do a task you asked him to do, and you mumble “He doesn’t care about anyone but himself”.  Your husband struggles with pornography, and you mumble “He’s a disgusting person who would instantly stop looking at porn if he really loved me”.  However, both these events could be framed in our minds completely differently!  When he forgot to do the task, you could say to yourself “I know he didn’t intend to forget. I bet he got busy.”  When you caught him looking at porn, you could say to yourself “I know he doesn’t intend to hurt me. He probably has an actual addiction and needs help.”

Let’s be proactive in examining our thoughts ladies!  2 Corinthians 10:5 take every thought captive to obey Christ

Beware of this marriage-killer

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!

— or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW