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A Fellow Wife Focuses on Overcoming Bitterness

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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.

SELF CARE

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

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

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.

RELATED:

Bitterness of Soul – I Want to Be His FIRST Priority! – by A Fellow Wife

Exploring the Depths of Bitterness

Bitterness Is Contagious and Toxic

Finding God’s Victory over Bitterness

Why Your Husband May Not Immediately Do What You Want Him to Do

I Just Want Him to Spend More Time with me

An Incredible Story of Forgiveness

Forgiveness

Forgiveness Stories

Waiting Becomes Sweet

Finding Contentment in Christ

Things that Fuel a Spirit of Discontentment in Me

Triggers for Sinful Thoughts

How Do You Stay Filled with the Holy Spirit?

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.

21 thoughts on “A Fellow Wife Focuses on Overcoming Bitterness

  1. Great book on overcoming bitterness in your life: “Bitter Truth: My Story of Bitterness, Grace and Repentance” By Linda Graf

  2. Perhaps every woman struggles with this. It’s as if the evil one takes advantage of a low moment -while we are truly wounded – and offers us a little self-pity to sooth the pain. The problem is, that medicine is addictive and toxic, it grows and it does nothing to solve anything. What a trick! Thank you for your story. I can attest to the upping the self-care. I went and got my hair done for the third time in about 15 years and felt fabulous. In April I’ll be going to Vegas with a girlfriend who’ll be taking continuing ed classes and tonight my girlfriend around the corner is making me and my little ones homemade elephant ears (fried donuts) for dinner because my husband is away on a personal retreat. I can’t tell you how excited I am about tonight’s dinner! She’s a great example of good self care too. I rarely hear her bash her husband for any reason let alone because he neglected to make her happy. I do, however, hear her say things like, “Gee, I haven’t done anything for myself for awhile…I need to get a good book.” It’s also so much easier to focus on the good things about life, one’s spouse, etc. when you’ve already been doing that for awhile and have been rewarded with growth- in yourself and in the marriage. It’s nice to know that I have a say in whether or not I end up a bitter, old woman.

    1. It’s nice to hear about other wives that’ve found the value in self-care and focusing on the positive. Thank you for sharing!

  3. I feel the need to clarify so that I’m completely understood. The trip I am going on in April is with a fellow Christian wife who isn’t able to take her husband with her. We are both very conservative and our spouses are tickled and relieved that we’ll be out in Vegas together. I will admit that this is a work requirement for her, albeit a fun one, and the situation would be a little different had it been our husbands choosing to just go because. Oh, and that elephant ear dinner was so yummy. I can’t wait to hug my husband when he gets home tonight from his retreat.

  4. Hi April, I’m struggling with bitterness and apathy this week. I know it only rears its head when I’ve had more challenges than usual at work or not feeling 100% etc.
    I go to the Word and it does help, God always points me to 1 Corinthians 7 – about living with an unbelieving spouse. This post was great because I have a similar home life, it’s respectful with no serious issues as you describe.

    I am thinking of picking up the Sacred Influence book. Question for you – is it specifically written for wives? I think from your comments it is – but I have a really hard time with books that talk about the husbands role in marriage. I don’t want to start something that’s going to make it more difficult to deal with this bitterness; I know it’s my issue to deal with Christ.

    I find it especially frustrating because I feel as though I’ve dealt with this many times before!! It keeps coming back, as A Fellow Wife has mentioned in her post. I need to spend some time on self care as well, it’s so easy to forget about that.

    Thank you for this post and all the comments from my ‘sisters’.

    1. I’m not April, obviously but I’ve read this book and yes, it’s totally focused on a wife’s role in marriage…. it REALLY helped me to start seeing how blessed I was and that a lot of my bitterness was not necessary. Have there been hurts in my marriage? Yes. But you know what? I’ve probably delivered as many as I’ve received but when we start dwelling on how hurt WE have been we tend to forget what all we’ve done to hurt our husbands. We are focusing on me only when we’re bitter.

      Bitterness is a HARD trap to climb out of but you can do it. I saw someone very close to me make some terrible decisions because they’d been bitter for so long – decades- and are in such a deep pit and I decided I did NOT want to be like that! That person has basically wasted their life wallowing in bitterness and now she’s just a bitter, miserable old lady. I don’t want that! I want to be happy. I want to focus on the beautiful sunshine and flowers and how lovely my bed might feel and how yummy an iced coffee is and how beautiful my children are and how much I love their laughter and how strong my husband’s arms feel around me- all the wonderful things in my life that I’ll miss if I stay bitter.

      We really do have a choice where we focus our thoughts. It takes time to get in the habit of focusing on the good. I’m still working on it.

      Something else that’s been helping me is that I started writing down all the things I’m grateful for in my husband/reasons I love him. Reading them back to myself gives me a warm feeling and reminds me what a great guy I really have.

      Self care does help, too. I find that when I make it point to do some nice things for myself and think about what it takes to make ME happy, I’m not obsessing over our marriage as much which can be a good thing.

      Take some time for self care! I’m trying to make time for it each day. It’s hard when you’re busy but it can be done. Even painting your nails or reading a good book for 30 minutes can lift your spirits.

      I’m praying for you!

    2. Melanie,

      I love Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas. Yes, it is written for wives. I try to avoid reading things that are for husbands, too. It is just so much healthier for me to focus on my walk with Christ and what He is calling me to do and to trust Him to work in my husband’s heart in His power in His time.

      Bitterness comes back easily. It only takes a tiny bit of a root of it to grow into a large evil tree that completely consumes our lives and becomes our primary purpose if we do not tear it out in God’s power as soon as we see it.

      You are most welcome!

      A Fellow Wife,
      Thanks so much for your answer to Melanie. Very helpful! 🙂

  5. Thank you Fellow Wife! Many of my role models growing up were very bitter people, since becoming a Christian I am able to keep the bitterness at bay roughly 99% of the time. I will definitely pick that book up.

    😊

  6. Fantastic! I bought the book yesterday.
    The bitterness usually lasts only a few days and doesn’t occur often but I hate it! I need to take that root captive and make it obedient to Christ so there is no growth.

    Thanks again.

  7. I am so grateful this was written, I don’t feel alone in my journey now to overcome my bitterness that I have developed over my husband just not getting it. I especially like the appreciate and accept. I just bought the recommended book Sacred Influence and cannot wait to read it. Need to get my joy back and become more positive speaking of him and not all the negative. Thank you so much.

    1. Sherry,

      I’m so excited about what God is about to do in your heart! WOOHOO! Thank you for sharing. Please let us know how you are doing. I am praying for God to continue His good work in your life and to empower you to overcome bitterness and live wholeheartedly for Christ. 🙂

  8. Reblogged this on Angies Kitchen Blog and commented:
    Enjoyed reading this post it’s nice to know we wives are not alone in our struggles. Stormies,s book the praying wife was my second bible for years and years it helped me to survive all my tumultuous thoughts and angry reactions in a challenging marriage. next week will be our 45th wedding anniversary. I used to pray a chapter every day over my husbands life for 10 years commanding God to bless my husband. It’s still not perfect, I still struggle….but we have a blessed life retired with two homes and three cars 4 lovely children and 5 grandchildren………

    1. angiecliffordskitchen,

      I”m so thankful to hear all that God has done in your life and marriage. Thank you for sharing! May God continue to richly bless and grow you, your husband, your marriage, and your family for His greatest glory! 🙂

      Congratulations on your 45th anniversary!!!

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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