Bitterness is a bully. It spits in the face of your spouse,
slaps him around a bit, and leaves him feeling humiliated. Bitterness has no
place in marriage.
When you’ve been betrayed or offended by your spouse (or anyone else for that matter!), it is far too easy to let bitterness take hold in your heart. You say you forgive them outwardly, but inwardly, you cling to your pain and you refuse to let it go. As bitterness begins to grow, your heart begins to harden towards the person you love. And you find yourself nit-picking every little thing they do. You find yourself being more and more annoyed by him. Your love is waning and you don’t even realize it’s your fault because you’ve allowed bitterness to take hold and bitterness convinces you that it’s always his fault. You begin to question all his motives. Your arguments increase and your intimacy decreases. Until you wake up one day and realize that you can’t stand to be around your spouse and you don’t know why. Bitterness. Bitterness doesn’t care about repentance. Bitterness doesn’t care if your husband has changed. Bitterness can’t see the wonderful things God has done in his life. All bitterness cares about is the past. All bitterness can see is the pain.
Bitterness has no place in marriage.
In a marriage that’s been ravaged by pornography or other addictions, bitterness is a difficult stronghold to overcome. But there is hope. As your husband walks in repentance and allows Jesus to remove the addiction from his life, you need to allow Jesus to remove bitterness from your heart. If you have chosen to be reconciled with your husband and remain in this marriage through the pain, you have work to do. Your husband must do his part in diligently pursuing purity. And you must do your part in diligently pursuing forgiveness and peace. Bitterness stems out of a heart that has not fully forgiven. If you want to be fully restored, you must fully forgive.
Here are 5 steps to help you beat the bitterness bully:
1) Ask God to help you see your spouse through the eyes of Jesus.
We are all sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God. None of us are good. Not one. But we tend to think the sins of others are much greater than our own. And when we’ve been betrayed and our heart is broken, we often see our spouse through the lens of our pain. When we look at him, all we see is his sin. This makes it extremely difficult to forgive and fight off bitterness. Instead, we need to ask God for some Jesus lenses. That He would help us look at our spouse with grace and love, knowing that we too are sinners in need of tremendous grace.
2) Write a “That was Good” Journal.
When bitterness is lingering, it’s difficult to remember anything good about your marriage. All the bad stuff is right out front and any good memories you have are masked by your pain. Spend some time in prayer and ask God to help you recall as many good memories as possible. They can be big or small, it doesn’t matter. Grab a notebook and begin writing them down. I did this in my own marriage and it really did change my perspective. In just a few short minutes, I was able to come up with 82 concrete memories that were not tarnished by his betrayal. Things like "the day we were cleaning our new apartment, no furniture yet. We ate Chinese food and fell asleep together on the floor... that was good." Or like "the day you sang 'we're going to have a baby!' when we found out we were pregnant with our first child... that was good." Or how about "the times when I was afraid and you prayed for me and held me close... that was good." I have so many good memories of my relationship with my husband that have nothing to do with his sin.
3) Memorize this scripture and quote it often.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-31). There are MANY scriptures in God’s Word about forgiving others and putting away bitterness, but this one Scripture leaves nothing out and is a great one to remind yourself daily that we must forgive as Christ forgave us and to be tenderhearted. It’s hard to be bitter and tenderhearted at the same time!
4) Communicate with your spouse about unresolved issues.
I know it may seem counterproductive to tell your husband that you’re still struggling with forgiving him. You may be concerned that he’ll be mad or tell you to “get over it.” But the fact of the matter is, keeping your pain bottle up inside and not talking to your husband about it will increase your chances of becoming bitter. Secrecy is fuel for bitterness. So pray about how and when to talk to your husband (with gentleness) about the pain you are still feeling. Explain to him that you know he is working hard to make changes and that you appreciate all that he’s done to pursue purity again. But that you are still struggling with getting past it. If your husband is walking in repentance, hopefully he will be a great comfort to you. Just talking it through can sometimes be a tremendous help in finding healing.
5) Move on.
Ok, I know that sounds harsh! Trust me, I know. But I mean this in the most loving and gentle way possible. There comes a point when you have to decide to just move on. To make a choice to not let this pain define your life. A choice to love your husband, despite his sin, and to move on past the betrayal. There will always be little reminders here or there – when a joke is made about pornography on TV – when you hear a friend who is hurting because her husband betrayed her – when the preacher does a sermon on the husband’s role in the marriage – etc. that can cause your heart to twinge in pain again. But over time, those pains will become less frequent and less intense. And when those moments come, you have to be diligent in warding off bitterness. Don’t let it creep back in and destroy the progress you’ve made.
Bitterness is a bully and has no place in marriage. Resolve to defeat it today.
Walking in Freedom,
Tags: bitterness unforgiveness anger betrayal pain forgiveness restoration healing god
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