A Fellow Wife began this journey with me in October of 2012. I have seen God do such a mighty work in her. And He is not done! A Fellow Wife’s husband is a loving, devoted man. He treats his wife very well. There is no abuse or anything awful going on here. But he doesn’t always do everything that A Fellow Wife wants him to do. So, there are a few areas where a Fellow Wife struggles – and I appreciate her sharing that today. We are all going to face some areas like this. Our husbands are not going to always do everything exactly as we want them to. (Sometimes, that may be a good thing!) If we try to force them to do everything we want, or we resent them that they don’t do every single thing we want them to – we can create a lot of problems. We can ask for what we desire respectfully and politely. We can also be aware that if we have been very demanding that our husbands do certain things for us for many years in the past, it can take some time for husbands to be willing to do those things, even after we stop demanding. This can be a time for us to learn the sufficiency of Christ and to trust God to work in our husbands as we focus on our own walk with Christ and finding our contentment in what we do have.
THE TOXIC POISON OF BITTERNESS
I was really struggling with bitterness in the last few months, I’m going to admit. All I could focus on what how my husband had hurt me so much in the past and how his priorities are out of order and how he can be neglectful. It was really, REALLY dragging me down. I was feeling very sad about all of that and feeling very negative and down about our marriage and the future of it. That was NOT GOOD. While some of those things are true, they aren’t the WHOLE truth. And meditating on all of that day in and day out was dangerous.
I read Sacred Influence (by Gary Thomas) around this time and it really helped me (From Peacefulwife – I LOVE THIS BOOK, TOO!). It reminded me how very blessed I am and how I’ve been forgetting to appreciate all the “common blessings” that I have in my husband.
I was reminded that if I focus on the negative, it will grow. If I focus on the positive, it will grow.
So, I’ve been working very hard on shifting my focus. It isn’t easy. I’m not necessarily a pessimistic person but I’m not naturally optimistic. I’ve always said that I’m realistic.
I’ve been working very hard – DAILY – on focusing on all the wonderful blessings I have in my husband and in our marriage. My words for 2015 are APPRECIATE and ACCEPT:
- Appreciate what I have in my husband – many, many blessings
- Accept that some things are what they are and give them to God.
When I can do that, the weight shifts from me to Him.
I do not want to be bitter. Bitterness was threatening to pull me under. Enough that it scared me into being intentional about focusing on the positive. I’m sure there will be days I don’t do well at focusing on the positive but I plan to be very intentional and do my best to think and meditate on of all the great things I have in my husband and marriage.
I was a bit confused about the bitterness I was hung up on. I was thinking that you had to just tear bitterness out – and you do – BUT you have to replace it with something- or at least I did. I had to replace all the old bitter thoughts with new thoughts about how blessed I am to have him as my husband and all of the wonderful things about him.
I noticed the other day that I was telling a girlfriend how sweet my husband was to me over the weekend when I was exhausted and stretched thin with work and house cleaning and told me to take a nap and cleaned the kitchen for me. (Yes I said he cleaned the kitchen for me! NOT something he’s always done!) And I noticed how happy I felt about ‘us’ in talking about the good.
Our words and thoughts are so powerful. That’s hard to always remember.
I feel like I’ll never get all of this at one time. I’ll still be working on this in 10 years. I think I’m one of the slow learners! LOL!
But I’m thankful that I’ve been able to start working on focusing on the positive. It makes me feel so much happier. Please pray I can keep my focus centered on all the blessings I have in my husband and give all the rest of my concerns over to the Lord.
I’ve also been giving some thought to making myself happy which is turning out to be very enjoyable. Instead of thinking about my marriage every waking minute, I also think about things for me… what would I enjoy today? Trying to do things to make myself happy instead of expecting my husband to make me happy… sometimes this means I read or treat myself to my favorite hot chocolate or enjoy talking to a girlfriend or go out with my daughter for some girl time.
I think it’s very easy to miss that you need to make yourself happy and put time and effort into self care. Women/wives/moms tend to be slave-drivers of themselves. I know that I am – if I’m not careful. We can work ourselves into the ground, from the time our feet hit the floor until we crash at night. That isn’t good. That’s a recipe for unhappiness! Planning some things to make your day more joyful and enjoyable is really important. It really does a lot for your mood!
A VERSE UPON WHICH TO FOCUS:
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. Philippians 4:8
A big part of self care is that we MUST have time in God’s Word and in prayer. We must feast on His Word and abide in His presence, praise Him, thank Him, worship Him, fully trust Him, hold nothing back from Him, and learn about His sovereignty and His character. We also must seek to try to get the rest, exercise, nourishment, and down time we need. We are responsible for our own emotions and for our spiritual growth.
Bitterness is one of our greatest temptation, in my view, as wives. I was trapped by bitterness for many years. It is such a toxic poison to our souls, to our walk with Christ, and to our marriages, and all of our relationships. If you know a woman who has carried bitterness for many decades, you know that the whole atmosphere and emotional temperature of any house immediately becomes chilly as soon as she gets there. Others cringe when she walks in the door and wish they could be anywhere but where she is. She is able to create misery in the lives of all she touches.
Bitterness is a form of idolatry that consumes us. It starts as a small root and then grows into an evil tree that completely consumes our entire identity, our lives, and all of our energy. It steals our joy in Christ. It destroys every relationship we have. It is contagious and spreads to others around us. Bitterness destroys many more marriages than adultery or pornography do. In Jesus, we don’t have the option to not forgive and to be bitter. We can’t forgive in our own power, but with the power of God’s Spirit flooding our soul, we can forgive anything. (Forgiveness is different from trust. We are commanded to forgive. We are not commanded to trust those who are untrustworthy. We are commanded to trust God. But until a person is willing to rebuild trust, we do not have to trust someone who has proven to be untrustworthy.)
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
It took me about 2.5 YEARS to begin to feel like I had any idea what I was doing with respect and biblical submission. It took another year after that for Greg to feel safe with me and for most of his walls to come down.
I am STILL growing and learning every day. I can’t wait to see all that I can absorb and learn and how God will grow me along this journey. We will never be done learning about Him, learning to love and trust Him, and learning to live in the power of His Spirit. How wonderful that God has provided us with everything we need in Christ to have victory over sin, to know Him, to love Him, to obey Him, and to bless and love our husbands, children, and everyone in our lives.
Bitterness of Soul – I Want to Be His FIRST Priority! – by A Fellow Wife
The Excellent Wife – by Martha Peace has a fantastic chapter with a big long chart of many different bitter thoughts wives think and then kind thoughts with which to replace them. I love that chapter! The whole book is great. But, I do have a few concerns about the last chapter about confronting our husbands about their sin – to me, there seems to always be one sentence in her examples that strike me as possibly disrespectful to some husbands. But this is an amazing and very helpful book in helping us to grow in Christ and to become more godly wives and women.
Sacred Influence – by Gary Thomas has some of the most beautiful examples of wives influencing their husbands in godly ways even when the husbands are in sin. I love the chapter on dealing with angry husbands. That is an area where I am weak here on my blog – so it may be a good supplement for those who face angry husbands at times. I highly recommend this book to wives who want to become a godly wife and godly, beautiful, powerful, good influence and blessing to her husband.