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“I Won’t Give up My Bitterness!”

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We Have All Been Hurt by Others:

Sin against us HURTS. Deeply.  Sin is always wrong. God always hates sin. He hates every sin people commit against us – whether it is in thought, motive, word, or deed. He hates the sin people commit against Him. He hates our sin, too – even the ones we think are “trivial” or that we justify to ourselves. God is absolutely holy and cannot tolerate any sin at all. (Verses about God’s holiness)

We all have reasons to be bitter – reasons not to forgive – that the world would say are “justified.” The more mistreatment we have endured, the more “right” we have to cherish our bitterness. We may even (wrongly) think we have the right to be bitter against God if He allowed something awful to happen and didn’t stop it, or He didn’t answer our prayers the way we thought He should have.

  • The problem with this worldly wisdom is that our bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness is major sin against God. 

God Commands Us to Let Go of Our Bitterness:

If you want to see where bitterness leads – observe someone who has been holding on to bitterness for many decades. Unrestrained bitterness leads to hatred, contempt, malice, a desire for revenge, and a desire to hurt or even kill another person. It completely consumes a person’s life and becomes their sole idol, many times.

There are few things that can kill a relationship as effectively as bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. In fact, God can and does often heal marriages from infidelity, pornography addictions, alcoholism, and drug addictions when people repent from these sins and allow Him to change their lives. But unrepentant bitterness causes a marriage to be unable to be healed. I held on to bitterness myself for many years, until God showed me that I had to choose – Jesus or my bitterness. I could not have both.

We may think that if we forsake our bitterness, we are saying that another person’s sins were okay, or that it didn’t hurt us. But that is a lie! God never glosses over sin – and yet He forgives, though He is perfect. We are certainly not above God. We can affirm that someone’s sin against us was very wrong, hurtful, and destructive and that it was not at all okay. And then, in God’s power, we can forgive. If we don’t forgive, we open a door for the enemy to enter and conquer our souls.

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

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 4:31-32

“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. Ephesians 4:26-27

A wife wrote to me a few years ago, “Don’t take away my bitterness! It’s all I have left!”

Bitterness Is a Deadly Poison to Us:

Bitterness must be quickly tended to as soon as it sprouts. It is evil – and it grows rapidly. The longer we allow it to grow and the longer we water, feed, and nurture it – the more painful it is to tear it out later.

Bitterness is a terrible trap, my dear sisters (and brothers)! It is a device of our enemy to attempt steal the gifts Jesus has provided for us through His death. Bitterness grieves the very Spirit of God and we lose His power in our lives – then our sinful nature has more and more control, not God. Bitterness hardens our hearts until we can no longer even hear God’s still small voice.

God commands us to forgive and to let go of bitterness – not because the person who sinned against us deserves to be let off the hook, but to bless US so that we can stay in close fellowship with Him and experience all the fruit of His Spirit and abundant spiritual life (Gal. 5:22-23).

We forgive because God forgives us. It is a decision of the will – not the emotions. We forgive because we love God and want to obey Him in everything. We forgive because we need to be forgiven by God. We forgive because forgiveness sets us free from Satan’s snare! Our goal MUST be to get rid of every trace of bitterness so that we can experience the power of God’s Spirit working in and through us to enable us to live holy, godly lives.

In releasing those who have hurt us and what they have done, and in deciding not to make them pay us for their sin – we can have God’s peace in our hearts. God says that it is His place to take revenge, not ours. (This doesn’t mean we trust unrepentant sinners or stay if we are not safe or the other person is not willing to rebuild trust.)

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14, 17-21

  • Either those who sin against us will turn to Christ and Jesus will pay for their sins against us with His innocent, perfect, holy blood – and He will change their hearts and they will grieve over their sin.
  • Or those who sin against us will pay for their sins themselves in hell forever.

There will be justice, ultimately, for the wrongs we have suffered. And there will be justice for the wrongs others have suffered at our hands, as well. God never ignores sin or sweeps it under the rug. He is just. He is righteous. He is holy. 

Replacing Bitter Thoughts with Godly, Holy Thoughts

We must take each thought captive for Christ. Every time I realize I am thinking a bitter thought, I must repent, turn away from it, confess it to God, and replace it with the truth of the Bible.

ie:

Bitter thoughts: “My husband doesn’t really love me. He hasn’t done X for me in years! If he loved me, he would know I want him to do X. I’ll show him! I’m going to give him the cold shoulder for the next 3 months. Let’s see how he likes that!”

Holy thoughts: “Let me write down the ways my husband has shown love to me lately. (If he is in unrepentant sin and has truly not been loving, I may need to write down that he is ensnared in sin and that he needs deliverance and needs me to pray for him. I may need to pray about confronting my husband about his sin if he has not repented. It is not a godly thing to pretend that sin doesn’t exist.) I can also write down what God says about me and my identity in Jesus. I can focus on all of the good things God has done for me. I can sing praises to God. I can write about my pain. I can pray about my pain and ask God for healing. I can ask God to show me how He might want me to bless my husband and how He might give me the power to overcome evil with good. I can ask God to help me better understand my husband if I am misunderstanding his masculine perspective. And I can seek ways to do good to him just to please Christ.”

When we realize just how much God has forgiven us and the great price for which He paid for our sins – Jesus’ death – we cannot help but respond with humility, true repentance, and gratitude. And when we have received the mercy, grace, and forgiveness of God for our billions of dollars worth of sin debt – we cannot help but respond with mercy, grace, and forgiveness toward those who sin against us (Matthew 18:21-35 – the Parable of the Wicked Servant).

God Uses a Believer’s Forgiveness for His Glory!

What an incredible witness for Christ it is when believers extend mercy, grace, and forgiveness, rather than hatred and bitterness. Think about the example of the church in Charleston, SC a few months ago. What a glorious testimony to Jesus that these believers forgave the man who murdered their loved ones. That didn’t mean that what he did was okay with them at all. What he did was awful – the very epitome of evil! But what they did was supernatural. Because of their beautiful example, the gospel was proclaimed and exalted around the world on secular news stations!!??!? Are we ready to allow God to use us to shine for Him, too?

What miracles might God have in store in our lives and for His kingdom and to bring the lost to Himself if we are willing to obey Him and not hold on to bitterness?

SHARE:

Is bitterness ever attractive to others?

How have you been tempted by the enemy to cling to bitterness, hatred, resentment, or unforgiveness?

Was it worth it?

Can we possibly bless others with the Gospel and love of Christ if we are consumed by bitterness?

How has God empowered you to experience His victory over bitterness, if you have experienced His deliverance? We’d love to hear your story!

RELATED:

Christian quotes about bitterness

Bible verses about bitterness

Forgiveness

Forgiveness Stories

A Daughter’s Incredible Story of Forgiveness

Righteous Jealousy and Anger

99 thoughts on ““I Won’t Give up My Bitterness!”

  1. Wow. Powerful and I felt very timely for me.

    I never knew how ugly bitterness was until I asked for God to come into my life. I had been holding on to bitterness for my mother for 30 years because she had an affair and my parents got divorced. My dad was a workaholic. I could never seem to forgive my parents for their lack of commitment. I was raised a Catholic by them, yet they did not practice. My faith fizzled when they divorced.

    At 23, I married a man that came from 2 loving parents, deeply committed to each other. I asked him to help me have “that” kind of marriage. I didn’t want to have the awful marriages my parents had (each are on their 3rd spouse today). I thought I was committed to marriage and I thought I married a man who felt the same. We said that divorce was not an option.

    Then we had children and my commitment to be a perfect mother consumed me. I was still bitter at my mom for not teaching me about motherhood, cooking, being a good wife etc. I felt very “on my own” having to learn this stuff on my own. Little did I know that the bitterness I held was rotting me. I was not nice to my in-laws because I thought they were not “real”. I didn’t respect their “perfect” ways. They had faults of being critical with others and being fault-finding and proud, and I rebelled at it. I wanted to be accepted for being “me”, and they always said how different I was. That started to eat at me too. I had something new to resent and be bitter toward.

    My husband has those qualities too, and I began to define myself by what he said. Our marriage was probably 80% great and I was probably doing 90% of being a perfect mom, but I couldn’t appreciate the good, I kept focusing on the 10 and 20% of bad, trying to fix it, be perfect, achieve 100% at both a perfect marriage and being a perfect mom. This set me up for disaster. I became a HUGE CONTROLLER and never realized it. I was too proud to see my sin because my I thought my motives (of making life perfect) were good ones. I never wanted to hurt anyone, I just wanted to do so much better than my patents, or his for that matter.

    The amount of pressure I put on my husband, my kids, my families and especially myself to be perect made my husband “crack”. I was also losing my kids as they became tweens. Everyone was getting exasperated by me and I didn’t understand why. Then, after 18 years of marriage, on a family vacation while the kids played in the pool in the middle of a paradise setting, my husband dropped a bomb on me that he wanted a divorce. My life just blew up. I was a failure and didn’t know why. I felt my world caving in. I was going to face the very thing I ran from as a child. I was lost and broken. My husband had begun shutting down emotionally about 2 years earlier, but I didn’t know why. He was angry and working 16 hours a day and we argued all the time. His workaholic-ness made me angry, hurt, bitter. I vomplained, taught him a lesson, withheld my affection etc… due to my hurt. I felt betrayed and abandoned. He didn’t care anymore. He had given up trying to help me have my dream marriage.

    On our way home from the worst vacation ever (kids had fun, but I was full of anguish), all I could do for comfort is look for answers on my tiny smart phone on the web. I typed in search words that eventually landed me on April’s blog at the article of ways husband’s feel disrespected. As I looked at the bullet point list of 50-60 things, I could check off all but maybe 5. At that moment, a load of guilt, understanding and remorse consumed me. God was convicting me, big time. I panicked. I tried to talk to my husband and appologize, but he was so fine and over, he just looked at me and turned away.

    I wrestled with this until I hit bottom. I was crushed by my guilt. In my desperation, I cried out to God to help me. I begged his forgiveness and prayed for him to show me a path to walk because I was so lost. I had not been on my knees, talked to God, or really even acknowledged him since I was 12. Why would He help me? I was an utter failure. But at that moment, I finally began to heal. I felt His peace and I felt like I could see for the first time ever.

    I heard His still small voice to “read”. Read to learn, not the crappy science fiction and romance books I always read, read the book, learn from April. Learn about the differences between men and women and what love and respect and marriage should be. I discovered my idolatry, my pride, my raging bitterness and began the hard and painful process of ripping each one out. They got harder for a while. After I faced each one – jealousy, control, and pride (I still struggle with this one), I then worked on my huge expectations. The pressure I put on my husband, kids, family, self, I laid all my expectations down at the foot of God. Gave up all I could. I even had to give up my expectation to stay married. I loved him more than marriage and was willing to give him up if it meant he could find joy and happiness again, even if it wasn’t with me…that was super hard, to give up my idol of marriage. Things got easier then.

    I started to move closer to God for my need on love and acceptance. Especially as my husband began to rage and go through huge anger and resentment. He blamed and accused me for everything. I focused on keeping my mouth shut. I felt he needed to vent after holding it in for 18 years. I saw him with love. But if I didn’t have the armor of God on, it would have crushed me. I kept saying…love him, even if he doesn’t deserve it right now, he did it for you and God does it every day. I never had dirty clothes or a dirty house at that time (I stayed busy to keep me from dwelling on the hurtful things my husband was doing and saying).

    My husband then moved out of the bedroom. We argued. He felt I was still controlling and demanding. I didn’t think I was. I then had a light bulb moment that I was just as much a hurtful monster as he was and I couldn’t see it because I was consumed at trying to deal with my hurt. Bitterness again. I needed to lay my hurt down and agree to deal with it at a different time, but for now, stop hurting my husband. Step off the hampster wheel of get hurt > react > hurt > react. I chose to love and speak love, respect, self-control and understanding instead of emotional reaction, hurt back, disrespect and other-control.

    This blew my husband’s mind.

    Everyone told me I was putting up with too much, being a door mat. My mom encouraged me to leave him, but God said no. Be patient, He has much work to go still, in me and my husband. He will keep me busy. But I was commanded to stay. Give space, time, and be an example to him without a word. My husband is not a beleiver, I don’t talk God stuff with him. But I focused on teaching my kids about God. Blessing the elderly at the nursing home I work at, repairing my relationships with my in laws, mom and dad, friends I have ignored in the past. How could I be a blessing to them….it was good practice and it grew me closer to God.

    I felt good about myself as I did these things. I even started to seek out opportunities..the cashiers, the waitresses, the delivery men, even took water to the garbage pick up guys on a hot day. I was filled with joy. Then there was my husband. I wanted to help him move out of anger and resentment. I knew he needed to forgive me.

    Fighting began again. He admitted he didn’t know how to forgive nor had the desire to. He is misersble, lost, depressed, no self esteem. I copied articles, left books for him, tried to encourage. I forgave him for a hurtful comment one time and he blew up because he didn’t feel he did anything wrong and didn’t need to be forgiven. He hated me for it. I thought I needed his forgiveness, begged for it until I realized I was demanding a gift from my husband. Even God doesn’t give His gift of forgiveness unless we ASK for it first. What a schmuck I have been. I needed to wait, be patient. It is God’s timeline, not mine. I am commanded to stay.

    I also started to focus on learning about boundries and emotional detachment, self-control and what I am responsible for and what I am not. I learned that I am not responsible for my husband’s reactions, feelings, sins, salvation, actions, words, happiness, success, depression etc. I have enough of my own. Every day is a chance to do better than yesterday. I thank my Lord every morning for a new chance and review my blessings every night. One night, my biggest blessing was that my husband felt he was too broke to afford a divorce….that was as good as it got that day, but I focused on it. I actually had to laugh at it.

    Today, it has been 9 months since bomb drop. What a roller coaster ride. But I am at such peace.

    No matter if our marriage works out or not, I know I will be okay and I know how to find joy with wherever I am at in life. God has already made me a better person, even if it is just for the benefit of my kids, friends, extended family, and myself. I pray for my husband to find God, find healing and I pray God shows me more ways to rip out my sin, choose a more godly path, respect and love my husband, in spite of his sin and shortcomings. I can’t help but feel I am on the right path now. I slip up still, but I recover quickly. I see the rusty gears in my husband’s mind turning slowly. He is still “IN” as well. He hasn’t left. Not sure why, but am gratefull.

    I battle discouragement and tiredness daily. It is not an easy path, but the reward at the end of the day is worth it. I am now the designated “prayer partner” at work for when residents are feelings discouraged. I have found wonderful encouragement from some of them, as well. ALL People I Know God put in my path..either to benefit them or me. He has this huge chess game on earth that He plays and it’s fun to look back and say “ahhh, I see how you did that, God, pretty clever!”

    Today, I live one day at a time. My kids are thirsty for the Word of God. I am too. I know that there is a slim chance my marriage will survive, but I also know that without God teaching me about respect, love, I was guaranteed that my marriage would end. April’s posts are filled with good, sound knowledge from God. I credit her work as life saving. The end is still yet to be unveiled to me, but God already has written my destiny, He wants me to be happy, but these hard times are meant for us to grow. Bitterness just decays our soul. It will never help you find what you are looking for. Give it up to God.

    Bomb drop day was the worst and best day of my life. I found Jesus because of it. I will never regret that. Much love to you all.

    1. LMSdaily,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story! It brings me such joy to see all that God is doing in your life and heart, my sweet sister! And to see that your husband hasn’t left yet. THANK YOU for being willing to give of yourself to bless our other sisters who are struggling. Thank you for sharing what a prison bitterness is and how important it is that we let go of all of it so that we can find healing in God.

      I love where you are spiritually now – it is SO beautiful! God is very good. I pray for continued healing and strength for you and for your husband’s salvation and the healing of your marriage in God’s timing. Most of all – I pray for His greatest glory in your life!

      I know this has been a painful and daily battle for these 9 months. I am so honored to get to walk this road with you!

      Your story – and hundreds of other women’s stories like yours – are the reason God has compelled me to do this ministry. I can’t keep the treasure of God to myself! I can’t keep His healing to myself. I have to share it! I want other women, men, marriages, and families to get to experience the abundant life that is in Christ when we submit ourselves to Him as Lord of all in our lives! I know the things I talk about sound strange to our ears in this culture at first. I know that many women respond in anger at first when I gently ask them to look at their own sin – like God did with me. But it is all worth it to see the harvest of righteousness that God is bringing about! God’s ways are infinitely higher than our own. His wisdom is so precious.

      You are such a blessing to me, my sister! Thank you for allowing me to share in the joy of all that God is bringing about in your life!

      Much love,
      April

      1. “also started to focus on learning about boundries and emotional detachment, self-control and what I am responsible for and what I am not. I learned that I am not responsible for my husband’s reactions, feelings, sins, salvation, actions, words, happiness, success, depression etc. I have enough of my own”

        This is an awesome comment and I sadly relate much more than I would like. What materials or reading were instrumental in your learning process? Blessings!

        1. April has a great reading list. The book that helped me with boundries is called Boundries in Martian by Dr’s cloud and ? Can’t recall the other. It is very practical and is supported by faith. I learned so much about my responsibilities and what was not. Also, Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerich, and I read stuff about the differences between men and women, Shanti Feldman books, and even men are from mars, women are from venus, but just be careful what you choose. I suggest looking up April’s reading list. Also scour April’s blog timeline. Sometimes the comments are filled with great stuff too. I pretty much use her blog like a subject look up to gather opinions and advice.

      2. Thank you April. I cannot tell you how much your blog has saved me. It is such a gold nugget when I feel lost. I know I will find a direction that leads me toward God. Sometimes it’s so hard to put all the knowledge of God into every day practice here on earth. You do such a wonderful job bridging that gap.

        I think many people just don’t understand the 2000 year old languages without a bit of translation and real life applications. THAT’S when I GOT IT. I received Christmas in me when I was simply looking for how to save my marriage. I didn’t trust my way of doing things anymore and I couldn’t trust my hurtful husband who was equally lost. Whom else could I turn to?

        Of course the answer was God, he was always there, waiting for me to just turn to him. HE caught me as I fell and never let me hit the bottom. I will forever be grateful to God and you for letting him use your incredible talent to bring us lost women to Him. I’m glad to share my story, but I am still such a newbie. I still get frustrated and worry that I am mistaken with certain approaches, however, I try my best to seek and hear God’s way.

        I usually find out quickly when I am on a wrong oath, a blow up with my DH or feeling let down, angry etc. I then examine my idols, motives and pride…I usually find it in there. Out it goes, then peace cones again. It’s almost becoming fun to learn the psychology of all of this, I can see the sin and disrespect so easily in others, but I can only control my own. I find it helpful to “practice” respect and love on other people, like friends, or family or even clerks at a store. It always amazes me the reception and connection created when we act out of love to one another. It keeps me focused while my DH is entrenched in his battles. Much love.

    2. Thank you my dear sister for your willingness and honesty.you have encouraged me and I will continue to pray with you for your husband and for you as you walk this journey with Jesus. Thank you for taking time to share.you are a blessing. much love to you

    3. Wow, I am in a similar situation as of 2 weeks ago, my husband and I have been married 2.5yrs have a 6yr old son and a 3 month old. Things were difficult before we married, we had counselling, got married and things were ok for about 6months. We started counselling again 4 months ago and 2 weeks ago he told me he was leaving and can’t cope with our relationship any more. I have convinced him to stay until we see our counsellor again in 3 weeks after our summer break.

      I too am trusting God and initially I was filled with fear in case he does actually leave (i don’t believe his desire is from God and this reassures me greatly as whatever the outcome I know God will look after me and my boys) but I know in my heart that as long as I stick to God whatever he has planned is for his glory and our good.

      I too am disrespectful, selfish and have so many defences in place to stop intimacy ( borne out of a emotional neglectful childhood). These hurt him massively and I just don’t know how to uproot the resultant behaviours (arguing, ‘looks’, answering back, interrupting), I have no choice but to ask God as I cannot do it of my own strength. I am frustrated as I am desperate to change to keep my family together ( my parents also divorced) but as you have helpfully reminded me it is in God’s timing, not mine or my husband’s.

      I feel as though I have to unlearn every reaction I have ever relied on, how can I remember in the business of each day….I just revert back to ‘me’ which he cannot stand. Grrrr. My husband, like yours is so angry with me and I hate it but I try to keep my identity and security in Christ but there are times it just hurts so much. He shows me utter contempt, we have had separate bedrooms since the birth of our second son. We have rare moments of peace and even enjoyment but he says this is all just superficial. It’s so scary, sorry to go on but I can’t talk to any of my friends about this and it is a relief to share the fact that he is wanting to leave.

      1. Liz,

        I am so glad to hear from you again! But very sad to hear that things are so difficult. I wish I could give you a big hug!

        What is your counselor suggesting that you do, my sister?

        How is your time with God going? What are you doing to be filled with His Spirit and abide in Him and let His Spirit have control?

        Yes. You are right – we do have to unlearn every reaction and way of thinking about so many things on this journey. It is like spiritual and emotional contortion for a long time.

        I am lifting you both up in prayer! Please let us know how we can support you. 🙂

        1. Hi, thanks April.

          Our last counselling session was a few weeks ago (and then she is having a break for the summer), the last session was great and then he just decided he’d had enough. I think it is partly depression as his mood is very dependent on his feelings and he seems far from God (when he is with me at least). She has been supporting me in hearing my husband and not interpreting his every motive as bad and challenging him too but in her words it is going to require a lot of hard work and he says he is finished with all the hard work. I know all the books say that one spouse can turn a marriage around but I don’t think it is working!! 😭 I’m doing it wrong or I’m too narcissistic to ever change, I just don’t know. We will see her again on the 10th and I suspect he will say he is leaving and she will help us manage this. I hope not but I am preparing for that. In her words he is a good guy and deep down I know this even despite all our struggles and Sin.

          I am doing a daily devotional (charles spurgeon) and trying to continue with the respect dare but with a 3 month old that doesn’t settle reliably in the evening and my 6yr old not at school (school hols) at present it is tricky to set aside decent time for personal reflection. The reading helps and keeps me focused in God’s plan and gives me strength, I don’t know how I cope some times, well I don’t. Sadly the tension is affecting my 6yr old and he can see how daddy is so angry at mummy.

          Being able to talk here is helpful altho I only have my mobile to type on which is a pain ( perhaps a blessing for you as if I have a computer to type on I’d be going for days 😜 ). I’m not sure I can unlearn every reaction in 3 weeks and I just have to trust God that he is looking after us and that may mean losing my husband.

          thank you for your prayers and for your blog.

          1. I hope you don’t mind me chiming in, but have you ever considered how you will go on if your dh does leave? How will you pick up and live your life? How do you do the “right” thing when your dh drops big emotional bait in front of you? Will you really tear apart your family, ruin the security and trust and home for your kids etc all because you got your feelings hurt? At what point do you stop carrying around that baggage and let it go, let God fight your battles for you. Learn how to give unconditional love…. (and here is the kicker) even if the other person does not deserve it?

            Our goal is to be like God, to love unconditionally, to be forgiving….every day, to NOT react in sin when we have been sinned against. Both of you are on a crazy hampster wheel of he feels hurt- he reacts in unlovingly in sin – she feels hurt – she reacts disrespectfully in sin – he hurts – he reacts….and the cycle goes on and on. Someone needs to step off of the wheel. If God has convicted you, and you are asking Him for help, then step off joyfully as the first one off. You will be so grateful that you are learning all this first.

            I felt that way, and then I started to wonder if I really was the first one off the wheel, or if I was the one playing catch up. The important work you need to do is to solely focus on what you only have the power to change. Be honest with yourself, don’t try to justify things. If you are feeling frustrated, discouraged let down, search yourself to find any hidden idols or unrealistic expectations.

            The day I realized my very marriage was an idol to me and that I had to tell my dh that I love him more than my marriage and if it means he would be happy without me, then I will grant him a divorce was a terribly painful admisdion. I cried and bawled and held on to my mom out of utter grief and sorrow. However, when I told my husband that, and also how sad it would make me, he turned around and told me he didn’t want a divorce either, but didn’t know how to solve it.

            It was at that point that I felt a peace thst I was on the right path and God would show me how to have my heart’s desire. But there was much work for me to fdo on myself, God promised me he would work on my husband…it just wasn’t going to be how I imagined, it will be God’s way. I really prayed to be able to hear God’s still, small voice more clearly.

            Learn to not be so connected emotionally to everything your husband says or does. Learn to look at his motives as good, not assuming they are evil or hurtful. Remember, he is not responsible for your feeling and emotions, YOU ARE. Learning to be calm and stable even when you feel stormy inside is crucial, you are scary when you are emotional to him (my 13 year old daughter taught me that about myself). Learn how to have self control, not other-control. Learn that you are not responsible for HIS emotions and reactions either.

            The more sin you can romove from yourself, the more he will be left having to face his own sins, only then will God be able to convict him. You will not be able to do that. Focus your energy on becoming a godly person. Every day you get another chance to do a better job than the day before. This takes way more time than we want, but there really is no other way to succeed, only God’s way.

            Much love and scour April’s blog timeline, it is a wonderful resource! I will pray for you, my sweets.

          2. LMSdailly115,

            THANK YOU for sharing the pearls of treasure and wisdom God has shown you along this difficult and very painful journey, my dear sister! I love this! May God be greatly glorified!

          3. Liz,

            How my heart breaks for the pain you are both experiencing! 🙁 And for your precious children!

            My prayer is that you will fully submit yourself to God – that Christ would be LORD of all in your life. Meaning, that you would mentally take all that you have, all that you are, all that you think, all of your future, all of your family, all of your marriage, all of your dreams, and all of your sin – and lay it all on the altar before Jesus. Then follow Him. Obey Him. Allow Him to call the shots. Read His Word. Let Him shine the Light of His Word into the darkest corners of your soul and beg Him to heal and change you to make you more like Himself! Focus on changing what God reveals to you in your own life.

            Right now, we will trust God to work on your husband’s heart. He has his own struggles and his own journey. But if you can get out of God’s way in your husband’s life, meaning, you are walking in obedience to God and not continuing with disrespect/control/sin – then your husband will be much more able to hear God’s voice himself about the things in his own life.

            I don’t want your husband to leave. But the good news is, he is not the most important person here. Jesus is. God is sovereign. Not you. Not your husband. Your husband can’t take away anything that God has given to you. And your husband can’t stop God’s purposes from being accomplished in your life. He is not anywhere near that powerful. Seek Christ. Find your identity, security, hope, peace, joy, strength, support, and Life in Him alone! He is enough. Jesus is sufficient! Focus on your identity in Christ.

            Allow God to change you. Perhaps your husband needs some time alone to hear God’s voice better and to begin to heal? I don’t know. But if he leaves, that is not the end. Many times, God brings healing after a time of separation – and sometimes even after divorce. What your husband does is not a big deal right now. The main thing for you to be concerned about are the things you think, say, and do, and your walk with Christ. He will guide you even if things get really messy. And God promises that He will use all things, including the most painful things and things we are most afraid of, for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory as we love Him, live for Him, and follow Him! (Romans 8:28-29)

            My prayer is that you will be faithful to God and become the woman and wife God desires you to be. I pray God will draw your husband to Himself, as well. And then that He might bring healing for your marriage and family.
            Much love and the biggest hug to you!

    4. Hi April and other wives! I wanted to briefly share an experience I had today with quick forgiveness towards my husband. I wont go into too much details but today as I was reading my husband decided to play a not so funny joke on me. He caught me off guard and in reaction to his joke, I broke out in tears because I was so insulted, even though it was not his intention, nor was it sinful. I was bitter over his joke, even though he lovingly apologized for offending me, I reacted poorly and coldly towards him and he silently left the room and went to lay down. Within a few seconds, I felt Jesus tell me that my husband was only joking and was trying to make me laugh rather than offend me, and I felt pretty bad about the way I handled the situation. I decided to go lay beside him and hold him, and when he asked me if I was mad sympathetically I told him I wasn’t anymore and that I was just momentarily insulted and reacted poorly. I gave him a kiss and left the room so he could sleep, in a much better mood. My conscience was clear and it felt good to quickly forgive him and not allow something as small as a joke create resentment towards the man I love. Bitterness only really hurts us, and others in the end, and it hurts our relationship with Jesus. If he could forgive our trespasses, how much more should we be willing to forgive? 2 Corinthians 2:7-8 is a powerful scripture about forgiving others. It says:

      7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
      8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.

      (this scripture is referring to a specific situation in the church regarding a brother or sister sinning against us) however, it greatly applies to us today and how we should be quick to forgive!

      I love my husband, and I don’t want him to swallowed up with overmuch sorrow, and I also believe if we do not forgive, we too, will be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow caused by the bitterness in our hearts.
      When we hold onto bitterness, we leave less room for the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. Bitterness chokes the Spirit from being able to truly work In our hearts. I encourage any wife struggling with bitterness towards their husband to forgive them, and make room for the Spirit to reveal to you how much happier and peaceful your life will be when you let Jesus dwell in your heart rather than bitterness and resentment.

      1. AshleyB,

        Thank you so much for sharing this example! I’m very thankful you listen to God and y’all had peace and harmony so quickly again. That is awesome! I don’t want any of us to be swallowed up with overwhelming sorrow – but to live in the freedom, light, and Life of Christ!!!

        Much love!

    5. Wow! I was just looking up bitterness on April’s blog and read your testimony! Brought tears to my eyes. God is amazing! Thank you for sharing all the details also. I am so glad you have found such joy amongst the pain. I will pray for restoration of your marriage, there is so much hope in your story. You have also encouraged me to keep seeking the Lord and obey his leading. God bless you dear sister. x

  2. I have been struggling with bitterness…. Actually praying a lot about it this week and even did a mini bible study on it. So of course I am hearing God in this post!!

    Some of you who are regular would know the story of how my husband walked out on me 12 months ago.
    At the time it was a shock, I was 12 weeks pregnant with our 6th child when he suddenly announced one night he wasn’t happy and it wasn’t about me it was about him and just walked out!! Infront of our children announcing he didn’t want the responsibilities of Husband or Father, that he did not want to be the head of this house or leader of this family… But that it was not a separation or divorce, just a break for 6 months!

    Anyway I caught him out having an affair with a married woman (with 3 children) who I was suspicious of anyhow.
    He lied to me over and over. And has hurt me more than anyone has ever in my life. He openly now lives his adulterous life (the other woman left her husband recently) and has even started in front of our children after years of teaching them living such a way is wrong.

    I have behaved in ways that have not glorified my Father in Heaven at all. The ANGER and immense BITTERNESS has been overwhelming!!!!!
    God told me one day a couple of months ago, whilst watching the movie “Belle” (based on true story -highly recommend watch) that I am:

    “a daughter of the King of Kings and LORD of Lords and should conduct myself as such…”

    It was a HUGE revelation to me.

    I am in the process of learning to let all bitterness and anger go. And slowly I am finding peace as I lay it at His feet. It certainly is a matter of the will and not of my emotions. It is actually LETTING Jesus be the LORD of my emotions and my will – instead of my flesh.

    I praise God every day for this journey. I have been able to let His love and light shine through me and it has been a testimony to the glory of God how my faith in Christ has got me through this. People ask me (both Unbelievers and Believers) how I look so amazing with 6 Children and everything I have gone through (and still are with court etc) and I can honestly say it is Christ who gives me strength and without Him I couldn’t!
    I have had the most amazing opportunities to witness for Him and may He be praised and may hearts turn to Him through it all I pray! Even my children have had to walk through the anger and bitterness in their own hearts and have been amazing vessels to His glory too.

    We must keep running the race!
    I read an inspiring word the other day… it said “Don’t count how many years or days till you hope Jesus returns… count how many neighbours you are reaching for Him”.

    Lets face it bitterness will eventually cost you you’re eternal life, is it really worth it?!

    “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.”
    Ephesians 4:31-5:2

    Thanks April for a great post as always. May God bless you for a wonderful God honouring website!

    1. Broken,
      Wow! Your story really blessed me! Thank you for modeling Christ honoring ways of obedience in the midst of really hard circumstances. Praying for you and your loved ones today.

    2. broken,

      WOW! Thank you SO much for sharing all that God has been doing in your heart, our dear sister! What a challenging and fiery trial you have been facing. But what beautiful things God is doing in your soul!!!!

      I praise God with you for the way He is getting glory and honor from your painful experience. I can’t wait to see all that God has in store for you!

      Sin does lead to death and condemnation – and hell – if we don’t have Jesus and His forgiveness. And if we do have Jesus and His forgiveness, then He is LORD of all in our lives, and we cannot and dare not hold on to any sin.

      Much love to you! Thank you very much for sharing your story!!! I pray for God to continue His good work in you and for you to choose to continue to allow His Spirit to work in you full blast. I pray for your husband to come back to God and to repent. I pray for healing for your marriage. I pray for healing and spiritual life for your children. I pray for God’s strength and wisdom for you as you navigate each day.

  3. Hi Ms April

    Thanks for blessing me this morning with words of wisdom.

    I think for me the ways I hold on to bitterness are :

    I get stuck in a pattern of familiar negative thinking about myself, and dont trust the process of God renewing my heart little by little. I really struggle with knowing how to be vulnerable to God, and I’m sure it comes from not knowing him very well.

    Please pray for me that I would humbly seek him! And learn how awesome and loving he is so I can have assurance that I’m growing, and not just in a perpetual cycle of unforgiveness, bitterness.

    I long to be 1000 % open with God and other people. (Without getting overwhelmed in my prayers of all the sin I need to confess).

    I believe God will bless my heart, my husband and children , and others in my life as I do this.
    I see tiny steps of change but would love to grow in great strides .

    Thanking God for you,
    Raq

    1. Raq,

      You make a good point! If we don’t know God well, we can’t trust Him. I would encourage you to study the attributes of God and the character of God. This will give you solid facts about God so that you can trust Him more.

      Some great resources:

      – David Platt’s youtube video “Who Is God?”
      – Wayne Grudem’s podcasts from Systematic Theology “The Attributes of God”
      – John Piper’s sermons at http://www.desiringgod.org about the character of God (you can search this at the top of the site)

      I pray that you will continue to humble yourself before God and allow Him total access to the darkest corners of your soul so that He can help you tear out the gangrene and sin and replace it with His glorious truth and Light!

      Praying for God to help you grow greatly in your faith! What a wonderful thing to pray that you will grow in great strides!!!! I pray that with you, my dear sister!

      Much love!
      April

  4. Excellent post. Bitterness is so subtle. I had no idea I was even bitter; in fact, I would have ‘preached’ against it before my eyes were opened. And yet, I was holding on to anger and resentment of things that happened YEARS ago, and dredging them all up in my mind continually, feeding my anger and justifying my willingness to disobey my husband….in subtle ways. I have felt nothing toward him but numbness and anger for years. Almost no hope. Now that I have forgiven him, God has truly given me back my love for him and has allowed me to see him with compassion and mercy. He has given me hope where there was none. Praise God that He forgives even the worst sinners! Unfortunately, though, my husband will not forgive me. He says he is full of bitterness and can’t see getting past it (though he is a believer) 🙁

    1. Hummingbird,

      Praise God for what He has done in your life!!! And I am so thankful that the same God who helped you see and overcome your bitterness can open your husband’s eyes, too, in His timing. And He can heal your marriage and make something so beautiful from it. 🙂

      We will pray for this together, and for God’s greatest glory!!

      Thank you so much for sharing your story!

    2. I’m in this same boat. My husband won’t forgive me either. It’s like we both swapped places. I was unforgiving and unloving before. Now I am choosing different and my husband has slipped into a horrible bout of self pity and bitterness and unforgiveness. Daily he is unloving, and I keep holding onto God to forgive. My husband doesn’t normally like to have space (very social and busy) but it seems he needs space and time. I have no idea if he will ever get past this hurt. I want so badly to help him through it, I care for him and when he hurts, I hurt. I wish I could help lead him to God somehow so he doesn’t have to live so angry, bitter, confused and hurt. I don’t need forgiveness from him. I want his forgiveness FOR him, so he can be free.

      1. We will pray together with you – Lmsdaily115 and Hummingbird – that God might open your husbands’ eyes and bring them to a place of healing and forgiveness. First that they might be right with God, and then that they might be able to experience healing in their marriages.

      2. I am going to be praying for you every day, dear sister, as we walk through this together. What a work He has already done in your life!

  5. I know of people who harboured bitterness and wouldn’t let go of the past. It ages a person. and they are also suffering major health issues as well. I am not saying sickness is always a result of sin. but I believe in this case it is. It also pushes people who love you away. So sad when this happens.
    Great post April! Keep ’em coming!

    1. Anon M,

      That is a really good point, actually, about sickness. I took a continuing education class one time (I am a pharmacist) about chronic pain. The MD who was teaching the class actually said that chronic pain is often associated with high levels of bitterness and unforgiveness. She talked about the measurable differences in pain perception and also in the immune system for people who are content and who forgive vs. those who hold on to unforgiveness. It was shocking to me – but interesting.

      Bitterness is such a prison – but the key is on the inside of the cell. It is a self-imposed prison. I don’t want anyone to have to suffer like that – and it is contagious and can contaminate whole families, churches, or work environments.

  6. Hi April,

    Thank you so much for this platform – its amazing! Its eleven months since my wife separated from me – the smartest thing she has ever done which started me on the craziest journey of repentance, humility, faith, fear, truth and love bringing me into a world I had never known.

    My life is transformed in nearly every area. I went from a lying, deceiving, financially irresponsible and financially dangerous, mind polluted, arrogant, self sufficient pathetic excuse for a husband who looked so shiny on the outside but was filled with shame and fear on the inside from my childhood and which controlled every area of my life.

    My life today is just amazing only because of the love of Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, amazing believers who have stood with me and fervent desire never to go anywhere the person I used to be. After fifty years I just walk in righteousness, I lied for the first time in five months yesterday when I said I had four people working for me not three and it cut me to the core and I am confessing it now.I don’t live on credit anymore, I pay my bills, I spend two to three hours a day with the Lord which goes in no time, I have been healed of several ailments and have an extraordinary relationship with my children which i never believed possible.

    I learned that when a man has trouble being intimate and transparent with his wife shame has an awful lot to do with it and when I finally allowed Jesus to take my shame my world just changed in an instant and literally gets better and more truthful every single day – no lie – it really does. There is such a life in me now I have total strangers crossing the street to ask me what is in me – true story!!

    I said all that to now ask – how can I help my wife to forgive me but its more her friends – they are really bitter. I understand their hurt- seriously – especially because they are often angry that the “perfect” husband every one used as an example had to face his own truth.

    Years ago I put the daughter of one of my wife’s divorced friends through private school. The daughters life got turned around, I think she became a missionary but when the girls mother she recently found out that it was me – I think she wants to kill me, they are all so bitter towards me and I was he last person on earth that she would have wanted the help from But I was messed up like everyone else – it just came out in different ways. Do i just keep praying, are there practical ways to show her? I just don’t want to waste another moment without my wife who I have so seriously fallen in love with now that I have fallen out of love with me!

    1. Gary,

      I LOVE your story! I praise God for what He is doing in your life – it is so amazing!

      I know when God showed me my control, pride, disrespect, self-righteousness, gossip, resentment, bitterness, etc… I had to go to almost everyone in both of our families and repent individually to each one for my sin against them. God showed me I needed to do that to begin to make things right.

      A possible idea to prayerfully consider:

      It may be that you could go to her friends and share that you get what a wretched sinner you were and how God brought you to repentance and is changing you. And then, you can explain that you understand that they will need to see the change continue over time to rebuild trust, and that you would appreciate them praying for you and for your wife and that your prayer is that God might miraculously restore your marriage for His glory. Not that it would be the same as before, but that you would be a husband who brings great honor and praise to Christ and love and care for your wife in a godly way.

      I don’t know if they will forgive you. You don’t have much control over that. If they want to hold on to bitterness – they will answer to God for that. But, perhaps as they get to see God changing you and see that it is real and lasts over a long period of time, they may be willing to begin to rebuild trust?

      And yes! Definitely please keep praying!

      1. Thank you so much April – how many lives you must have saved or turned around through your blog – everything has turned around so significantly for me I can understand that people must be really cautious, I’m sure i probably would be too. Nearly all of my wife’s friends now are divorced or badly hurt by men – and these are Christians!! So they are going to be exceptionally cautious for sure. Because i have been so set free from so much baggage by His Grace I have to be careful not to expect everybody else to be on the same page. I can’t wait to be the husband that I was meant to be and seriously had never realized it was possible…one most incredible thing through this is that I actually start to “get” Jesus love for his people and the vaguest semblance of understanding how much He must hurt and ache for us to be reconciled with Him.

        1. Gary,

          God is SO gracious to allow me to be a little clay pipe through which He pours His love, truth and healing. All of the miracles here are certainly God’s doing! I never tire of hearing how He is healing and working in people’s lives. 🙂

          Perhaps God will use the dramatic changes He has brought about in your life to be a gateway of blessing and healing for your wife and her friends. We will pray for God to open their eyes to Himself and that they might be willing to release all of their bitterness and find healing in Jesus!

  7. Give us this day, our daily bread,
    And forgive us our trespasses,
    As we forgive those who trespass against us….

    In the Lord’s prayer, if you listen to what you are saying, you are asking for God to give you as much grace as you give others.

    1. Anonyman,

      Yep. And Jesus even goes into a discussion on that topic right after the Lord’s Prayer about how if we will not forgive others God will not forgive us.

      This is BIG stuff! We ALL need God’s forgiveness desperately. So, we must all, in God’s power, become master forgivers. It is at the very heart of the Gospel and God’s will for us as believers.

      Great point, my brother!

        1. Anonyman,

          What blows my mind is that we can sit in church for decades and read the Bible every day and pray every day and think we are serving Christ, and yet hold on to bitterness dearly. I sure did. How is that possible? How are we missing something so foundational? That is scary.

          God showed me in His Word that He counts the way we think about, speak to, and treat others as if we are acting in those ways to Him personally. “whatever you have done (or have not done) for the least of these, you have done for Me.” He showed me that the way I treated my husband and thought about my husband, and loved and respected my husband (and others) – He counts as the way I love Him. That is sobering!

          When we realize it forgiveness and unconditional love and respecting others is not about if they deserve it, but if Jesus deserves it, that changes everything!

          I’m glad this was a blessing. 🙂

  8. Please pray for me. God keeps chipping away at my bitterness and I thank God for what bitterness He has taken away from me, but I am finding that I have bitterness in other areas. Thanks

    1. Katy,

      Bitterness is insidious. Just the tiniest root left somewhere in our souls can quickly grow and spread much poison. Sometimes we think we have ripped it all out, but if any trace of it remains, it comes back.

      This is something we must constantly be vigilant about and ask God to shine the blazing Light of His truth and His Word into the darkest corners of our souls, so that He can help us find every bit of bitterness and we can tear it all out.

      There is such peace and joy in Christ when the bitterness is all gone! I can’t wait for you to experience this freedom!

      Much love, my dear sister!!!

  9. Lmsdaily,

    You and I are going through almost identical struggles with the same timeline even! My husband “checked out” of our 27 year marriage 9 months ago. He stopped talking to me and said he needed a lot of space. He mentioned that he wished we could divorce but he is a strong Christian and knew it wasn’t an option. He was so fed up with me that he just shut down and shut me out of his life while we still lived together and tried to keep it together for our 5 kids. He said he didn’t want to be married anymore, he was sick of the kids, and sick of everyone putting expectations on him. He was sick of church and being expected to be at every service. He wanted to run away from all of his responsibilities. I believe he is in a midlife crisis.

    He told me he had a great friend…a female coworker. Even though he has told me that it is just a light and fun friendship, not emotional, I still struggle with jealousy. I know that he talks to her daily on his personal phone for many many hours per month. I have harped at him about how much this hurts me, because he is shutting me out yet talking to her so much. I am trying hard not to replace my sins of controlling and selfishness for bitterness. I am broken and hurting but still trying to control him by trying to make him feel guilty about this friendship. I have struggled with respecting him in this because I’m not sure if it is Biblically wrong for him to have such a close female friend besides his wife. He does not feel any guilt about his friendship with her but he does feel bad that it upsets me so much.

    I dropped the ball, neglected him, took him for granted and disrespected him. We were never really close, life got busier and busier and we stopped talking to each other. His job is extremely hard on him and he has no joy in life. She cares about him and puts a smile on his face. Is that wrong? I’m just jealous… I want to be his friend and be the light in his life but I quit a long time ago.

    Throughout these 9 months God has shown me so much about myself. My pride,selfishness, criticalness, lack of caring and compassion for my family and others, CONTROLLING, lack of faith and trust in God, etc. I have grown so much and I realized that I never REALLY trusted God. I want to fix everything and I think my way is the only right way. I don’t know who I thought I was, but I know now that God is way bigger and more powerful than little ole me. I am learning to get out of His way and just let God be God! I am sick of fighting God and am just now gaining peace and surrendering to God and my husband.

    My husband has recently told me that he has decided to check back in. He is still not talking to me much and I struggle with putting unrealistic expectations on him. I have fallen in love with him all over again and I want this close, intimate marriage that will be a light to others of what God can do. I need patience. I need to trust God and not be fearful and jealous of his friendship. He is a Godly man and he loves and fears God.

    I feel like my husband should repent and apologize but I will not let bitterness take root in my heart! I am not his conscience. All will be well if I will just have faith. Thankfully my husband stuck with me and is still here after all the tears and grief I have given him over this. Now I am thankful for any small act of kindness and I don’t take anything for granted! My marriage may not be what I want it to be but at least I have hope. God loves me no matter what and that is enough for me.

    1. Hopeful,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. How my heart breaks for you and your husband and the pain you have both experienced in your marriage. But I rejoice with you about what God is doing in your heart and that your husband has made the HUGE step to say he is plugging back in!

      If you are interested, I’d be glad to walk beside you on this journey and point you toward things that may be helpful in the struggles.

      I can’t wait to see all that God has in store for you! Praying for God to restore you to Himself and your husband – and to heal your marriage and make is something so beautiful for His praise and glory!

      1. Thank you April for all that you do with this blog. I just found your site and it has been a tremendous blessing and help to me. I wish I would have found it sooner, it would have encouraged me to keep silent and pray and turn to God more instead of clinging to my husband and unloading on him so much. I would love for you to walk beside me and any advice would be appreciated. I am gaining more and more peace as the days go by. God is good, He hears me and loves me, I AM NOT IN CONTROL OF ANYTHING, GOD IS. I am a very strong woman but I always thought I knew my place. My husband has the final say in everything and my kids are amazing and love the Lord and are actively serving Him. I thought I had an average marriage until my husband pulled the rug out from under me. I have read a lot of Christian books on marriage and have a lot of knowledge unfortunately I never learned wisdom and applied that knowledge. Learning and doing are two different things. I would pick and choose the areas I wanted to work on in my marriage and totally disregard others. I never realized the depth of my sin and how disrespectful I was to my husband. My lack of care and concern for him overwhelms me. I am a worker, I get things done, at home and at church, I am the go to girl. It will get done and will be done right. What pride I had, I was doing so much I was neglecting my husband…for years! I am an “aged woman”, I am supposed to be a light and help to other women, 27 years of marriage almost lost because of foolish busyness and failing to see and appreciate and care for my amazing godly husband. I am so humbled by my sin and the Holy Spirit has convicted me about so much. I don’t know where to start.

        1. So, I am captivated by your story, after 27 years of marriage, was your marriage restored? What was his response to you learning respect? How long did it take for him to plug back in and trust you?

          1. LOL, you are funny Lmsdaily!

            I haven’t quite learned respect yet and he certainly doesn’t trust me a whole lot. My story… married young, did something stupid to make him lose trust in me (nothing horrible but hurtful all the same) had 5 kids, homeschooled them all (still at it) very active in church as a family, busy, busy busy. I started working a few days a week and still continued to homeschool and was dealing with teenagers, a wedding, drivers training etc. busy, busy, busy.

            He was neglected, I was overwhelmed and resented still having to do everything like clean house and make homemade meals and still teach the kids. We were doing a good job raising our kids but we were slipping farther and farther apart. I became extremely controlling trying to juggle all the balls. I lost my focus, my main job in life, to be a help meet to my husband. We never really became close friends, I think he never opened up to me because of the mistake I made in our early days.

            I am a very selfish person and I talk a lot…about me and what I’m doing. I never listen to him and/or criticize him when I do listen. My way is the only right way. Grandchild comes along, hubby has more and more aches and pains and high blood pressure, we’re both getting older and growing farther apart. Then the bomb drops…I do something that I knew he didn’t want done, even though his words to me were “do whatever you want”, I KNEW he didn’t want me to do it. He said he had had enough and he was checking out of our marriage. He said he didn’t care about me anymore, didn’t want the responsibilities anymore.

            I noticed he was getting angrier and angrier about a year prior to this, yelling at the kids, short tempered with me, tense. Typical midlife crisis. For the past 9 months I have searched my heart and cried out to God. I clearly see my sin, tons of it. I asked for forgiveness from my husband and tried all I could to show that I loved him. But I still kept showing him disrespect by bringing up his deepening friendship.

            With his approval, I went away for a month, hoping absence would make the heart grow fonder. Unfortunately it didn’t. He barely missed me and was enjoying his time alone. He was very happy when I was gone. He hardly ever called me and I realized that I don’t mean very much to him and we really are not friends or close at all. That hurt. I was doing pretty good before I went away because I was focusing my attention on him and trying to please him. When I came home my attention was on me and how much he didn’t miss me or need me and that I am nothing to him.

            A few days before I came home he said he was going to stop talking to his friend as much and check back into the marriage, this was only a month ago. Just this week I have realized that I am going about this all wrong, trying to get him to see that what he is doing is wrong. I just need to let go and let God take care of things and He has. He used my older daughters to talk to him and get him to see what he was doing to me. They told him he was choosing to hurt me.

            Things are already better this week. I am focusing on him again. I need to stop putting expectations on him and quit dreaming about pie in the sky. I should be thankful that he is still here and wants to stay. I need to quit making mountains out of molehills. Quit trying to change him. His advice all through this has been to just relax and let it go…the friendship thing. It really is not what I am making it out to be. She was there for him when he was going through a difficult time (crisis).

            So where I’m at now is wanting to be his friend and wanting to do things with him and have a real marriage, a close bond. I need patience, all really will be well because he is a great guy and loves the Lord. This was just a major road bump in our marriage. Mid life crisis is a very real thing, I hope April will address it in a furture post. My husband does love me and everything will be ok if I would just chill out! God has shown me so much and I have thanked Him for this trial!

          2. Wow. I am floored at the similarities. I, too believe the midlife crisis stuff. More info would be great. I hope deep down my husband still loves me. My crime was just 18 years of unintentional disrespect. I, too do not think the other woman is really the sole focus, in fact, he admits it is all his coworkers, they all like and respect him and I am the only one on the planet that does not. However, my husband is far from God and I struggle when he asks me how I can be okay with where our marriage is at. Of course I am not ok, but it’s where I am and I am determined to appreciate the few good things and pray for more. All my friends think I should have left him months or years ago. Besides this post and an elderly lady I work with, I really don’t have anyone marriage-supporting who has gone through this with success. I feel I am constantly trying to tell them I have not lost my mind. How do you deal with the ML CRISIS type stuff? Did he ever say why he wanted to check back in? How long did that take for him to process? I appreciate your input.

          3. LMSdaily115 and Hopeful,

            I wonder if the whole midlife crisis thing might not be related a lot to a man feeling shame? If you get a chance, check out the posts this week on my husband’s blog – http://www.peacefulhusband.com on this topic.

            This may be a good topic for us to talk about. I may need to recruit y’all to help me! 🙂

          4. I did read about the shame thing on peaceful husband. I subscribe to his blog as a “window into the unknown”. It helps me see a man’s side to a concept. I was in tears over the fog post.

            My heart aches for my husband because I think his fog is approaching visibility zero. I want so much to help him. Even though I am hurt daily by his neglect, I can see now that I may be the only hand he has left to grab. He would have God’s, but he hasn’t asked for His help yet.

            I, too felt in a fog until I asked go God’s help, and as soon as I did, the fog disappeared. From what I have read, a midlife crisis is some sort of personal journey in which unresolved issues in a person’s past keep rearing up and demanding to be confronted and resolved. The spouse is the closest target of blame and could have been the catalyst to the start of the mlc, but it could also be something else like an illness, death of a family member, loss of a job or other unrelated event. This journey cannot skip steps and is often described as a rollercoaster for all involved.

            The spouse can choose to leave or “stand”. Standing involves staying committed to your marriage vows no matter what crazy behavior the MLCER exhibits. If we follow God’s way during a spouse in mlc, then we can have direction and guidance not only for us to endure this crazy time in our spouse, but to become a beacon at the end of the long, dark tunnel for our spouse to help navigate through to.

            Essentially, they are list and there are 5 definite stages they go through. April, there is a blogger that had responded to one of your posts…rollercoasterrider, I think that has great info on her own post. Hopefully she will see this and offer some insight. Often there is infidelity, but not always. For example, my husband became a workaholic to escape his journey, it’s not helping him, but I can’t convince him of that. There seems to be nothing we can do to stop or prevent this journey once it starts. People-pleasing types are most at risk to go through mlc. They essentially get fed up with filling every one else’s demands, even if they don’t want to and turn Mt. St. Helen on everyone.

            Spouses probably give the most demands, due to the close relationship, so we become the easiest targets. Some mlcers flee all responsibility, some stay but their anger and frustration keeps boiling out like a volcano. Either way, they are lost and can’t trust anything anymore. They are consumed by their emotion and feelings and have no self control emotionally. They are utterly incapable of giving their spouse the love/respect/support they need.

            They may have an affair, often with another unstable person due to avoiding their own issues and immediate releif, but it doesn’t solve their problems, the issues follow them. Is it any wonder that as a loving, God-knowing wife, we can be that beacon for our lost husbands? If we can focus on helping our dear husbands, EVEN THOUGH they cannot stop the hurt and such, we are essentially planting the seeds of trust, hope, love for when he comes out on the other side of this tunnel. That is where our marriages can flourish and become stronger than ever.

            It’s the willingness to stick it out, grow to God in ourselves during this time, learn what agape love is all about and take care of our needs and ourselves while we wait. We can learn how to be better people and learn about our sins and how to be a brighter beacon, not only for our husbands, but for our kids, family, friends, and anyone we meet. We can ooze the love of God for anyone we meet. (ooze doesn’t sound to full of glory, but it’s the best I got! Lol)

            This does not say that there are not consequences to his actions, we do not need to just take it if he’s cheating, there may need to be separations, or defending of our personal boundaries. For example, dinner is at 6:00, I cannot hold it up later because the kids are hungry too. If he wants a fresh, hot meal with his family, then be home, if not, dinner is up to him. I no longer push dinner to 8,9,10:00 to accommodate him, it is not fair to the kids and not healthy to eat that late. But either way, it’s his choice and I no longer nag at him, he can’t hear it anyway, it just gives him more to blame on me.

            But I am learning there us a succinct communication that needs to happen for the consequences and choices to be his. We need to be clear communicators and understand what healthy boundaries are about. A great book called Boundaries in marriage by Dr’s Cloud and Townsend was such a great help to me in all aspects of my life, not just my marriage.

            Hope this starts off some help on the Mid Life Crisis stuff.

          5. LMSdaily115,

            Greg and I were talking about the midlife crisis thing last night. We have not done much studying or research on this topic – but it seemed to both of us that a man’s sense of shame/failure as a man could contribute greatly to a breakdown like this. Like, maybe a man has been feeling completely trapped in shame for many decades, and no matter how much he tries, he feels he cannot measure up as a man (at home, at work, with God…) and maybe he just eventually snaps from the pressure and gives up trying to do the right thing, because it seems so pointless and hopeless?

            I am glad you are having dinner at 6:00 – that sounds like a good plan. And I love that you are holding out a light to him at the end of that dark tunnel. I agree, you may be the only human hand reaching out with the grace and hope of Christ to him.

            Thank you very much for sharing your insights. I love the ideas you have about how wives can bless their husbands in such a difficult time.

          6. Peaceful wife and LMSdaily,
            During this marriage/midlife crisis I have had many different talks with my husband and these are some of the things that he shared with me:
            -He mentioned shame from something he did before we were married. ( He is the oldest in his God fearing church going family and he knows his siblings look up to him, he takes this very seriously. He has always been a very responsible person with amazing character. I think this has bothered him for all these years)
            -He wants to be himself, no expectations or criticism. (I saw a video clip on the Laura Doyle website and there was an older man that said the same thing.)
            -He said he could be himself with his female friend at work and she didn’t put any expectations on him, just listened and accepted him the way he was.
            -He wanted to be free from all responsibilities.
            -He wants to be able to do what he wants to do and not have to answer to anybody…this includes skipping church.
            -He is getting older and has a lot of aches and pains and high blood pressure. He doesn’t know how long he can keep doing his very physical job.
            -He kept telling me that he was the problem, not me.
            -When we were separated for a month he was very, very happy. I asked him ” Am I THAT bad?”, he said no, it was him with the problems not me. He also said that having the time alone allowed him to be able to understand some things about himself.
            -He’s sick of everyone telling him what to do, he doesn’t want to be anyone’s puppet anymore.

            I hope this helps with the midlife crisis research. After writing this I realize that he really has been open and communicated with me throughout this difficult time. I think I was blinded by jealousy and hurt feelings over him not needing me and wanting to go and do so many things on his own. He was requiring so much space and said so many hurtful things to me. I don’t think I fully understood how much he was hurting and suffering too. He kept telling me that he wanted to be able to be himself and that I should concentrate on being myself and maybe we would fall in love again. He told me to relax and just let things take care of themselves. But I kept trying to force things, and try to immediately fix things. There are no quick fixes. In the beginning his parents, the kids and I and many other people noticed him withdrawing and retreating. He drew into himself and shut everyone else out. He went for drives and fishing and bike riding and out for dinner by himself a lot. Quiet at home yet angry a lot. He was trying to work things out, I guess. Now, 9 months later, he is so much happier, talking and connecting with people again, not grumbling about having to go to church. He’s working out more to help with the aging. He is checked back into our marriage yet a little leery I think. He is taking interest in the kids again. He is getting involved in some old hobbies again. He is back in the land of the living! I gave him such grief over what he was going through. It’s a wonder he made it through with me harping at him all the time. He has changed though. He is more decisive, doesn’t tell me what he’s doing all the time, he holds himself differently, kinda rebellious or hard looking. He still seems a little scary to me but I’m trying to adjust to the new man I’m married to-he’s definitely different than the man I was married to for 27 years. I like most of the changes I see, he seems more manly and tough. I just hope and pray that I can soften myself so that I can be his perfect counterpart! Hope this helps, love to you all!

          7. Hopeful,

            That is helpful to hear what he was feeling as he withdrew. Much better than a husband saying nothing at all, in my view.

            I have heard it said, “Hurting people hurt people.” Yep. When someone lashes out at me unfairly – my question is usually, “What is going on in their heart?” The way we treat people is a reflection of our walk with Christ. And a husband responding in anger or shutting down – often feels disrespected and very wounded – even when we don’t realize we are communicating disrespect. Disrespect repels men like crazy! Even little hints of it.

            It sounds like he is making a lot of progress. Wow! I pray for continued healing for you both! I have a post coming Monday about Wives whose husbands are dealing with shame that may be helpful. Thank you so much for this!

    2. Wow. Thank you for that. My husband even has a close female coworker who he communicates with all the tine. I can’t stand to hear her name and I, too aM convinced it’s a midlife crisus. I have read up about “standing” through his mlc and the process. All I can see that we can control is our own reactions and feelings. Growing as close to God as I can has been life saving. I am learning about my boundaries and making changes. I don’t harp on my husband about the other femsle, even though it is a daily punch in the gut because I have learned it just pushes him away even more. Weather it is unbiblical or not for him to have this woman in his life, we are still not the judge, jury or executioner of someone else’s sin. God is. I have learned to focus on my own sins and leave his sins between him and God. I have lowered all my expectations and looked to my support groups, friends, this blog, and God to get the emotional support I need so bad. I often try to look at my husband as broken. But I can’t fix him. I need our God/physician to do that, I can only show kindness, love and understanding. My DH is not equipped to give me what I need right now, so I had to stop demanding and begging for it. My biggest struggle is telling him how I feel without trying to shove it down his throat and get him to understand me…I know he wont. So I hive my hurts to God and work hard at trying to listen to my husband and understand what he is feeling…even if I don’t undestand or agree why he feels that way. I think my DH needs his turn to be heard, then mine can come later, when he wants to hear it. Right now he doesnt. I had to get off the hampster wheel. I read that average mid life crisis can be 2-7 years. Ugh. I realize I am in it for the long haul. If he hasn’t left already, he probably doesn’t really wantvto, but is list. April once told me we have an unfair advantage having a working relationship with God and having him on our side, being willing to listen and obey him, our husbands are not taking their orders well. They are rebellious and unload soldiers. God’s will always prevails. I hope to hear from youvagsin. I will follow your journey closely. Thank you again and I will pray for your marriage to heal. Much love.

      1. Lmsdaily115, Hopeful,

        My husband also « checked out » an year and a half ago after 11 years of marriage and 6 years of leaving together. I was disrespectful, not undertanding and a very controlling wife. I had a huge pride too. My husband and I were also not very close, had a lot of work to do, and did not talk very much. Two years ago I started to nagg about his lack of attention and showed a desire for a child. He just started to shut down, and almost stopped talking to me. He said he needed some space too. I have found that in the same time he started an emotional affair. He is still lying about it. Few times he said that he doesn’t know how our futur will be and threatened to leave.

        I was completely terrified. I found a web site (not a christian one) who helped me start to recover from the affair, but without your blog April and God’s help I would not be where I’m now personally. Thanks to your posts, I went back to our God and our Lord Jesus Christ and started to read the Bible again. I slowly realized that my sin was huge. I « learned» about God in my childhood, but I had a very weak faith. I was an unbeliever for many years.

        I’m thankful that God is changing slowly my heart and mind and gives me to experience His peace. But it’s not easy. I fall down, then I focus on God and get up. I hope God will help me increase my faith in Him. I’m still struggling with my selfish motives about the marriage. I know I want to stay in my marriage.

        1. Ev,

          Oh no! What a painful situation for you both – and such a yucky mess now. 🙁 My heart grieves with you, my dear sister! You believe your husband is still conducting an emotional affair? If you want to talk more about things – I am here and will gladly walk beside you. 🙂

          I praise God for what He is already doing in your life. I’m so glad you turned to Him and are trusting Him. I know that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it! That is a promise of God!

          I pray that God might empower you to be the woman He longs for you to be and I pray for God to draw your husband to Himself and to salvation. I pray for healing and restoration of your marriage to be something very honoring to Christ and beautiful in God’s eyes.

          Sending you the biggest hug!

          1. Thank you April for your prayers, and thank you for reminding me of God’s promises ! I forget about this. My faith is still small.

            Yes, I think my husband is still conducting an affair. I was advised not to talk about it, to continue with my efforts, and be aware of my own behaviour. You speak also about 1 Peter 3 : 1-6. I do not know how many times I would lash out at my husband in the beginning if God was not with me. I decided to forgive my husband about the affair from the very beginning. My biggest sin is still judgement which creats bitterness. I have to continue to forgive him. I learned that when I think about my sin I’m more humble and I love my husband better.
            But I still have many conflicts within me.

            One thing I would like to say here… During this time I had a big temptation for an emotional affair with a married husband. I very much enjoyed his attention in the very beginning (I was very weak), but then it got really dangerous. It was a really big struggle. I started to stay away from him, and prayed and decided to obey God and stick to my marriage. I praise God that he was so graceful to me. Now when I think about this I feel disgusted. I know that if I have another temptation in the future, I will have to stop it immediately. I would really like to encourage everybody to pray and obey God if this happens. God is able and He is good !

            Thank you for your support and encouragement.
            I pray that God will heal and restore our husbands, wifes, us and our marriages.

          2. Ev,

            Are y’all still living together or are you now separated, my dear sister?

            It is right to be angry about a husband breaking the marriage covenant. Righteous anger is necessary against sin. But – the temptation will be to slip into sinful anger and bitterness. But if the affair is still going on, there may need to be separation until he is willing to repent and begin to restore trust.

            I’m so thankful God empowered you to walk away from the temptation! I pray for God’s continued healing for you and for Him to bring your husband to Himself and to bring healing to your marriage.

          3. Thank you, April, for your prayer.

            We are still living together, and the affair is still going on. I will think about what you said concerning separation. My marriage counselor says that in his experience of working with many married couples, he can tell that separation (in a case of an affair) reduces the chances of fixing a marriage. He says that distance breeds more distance. But there are some exceptions : people get closer even if they are separate. The closeness happens beacuse the people’s souls change. I will pray God to show me what to do. I never wanted to leave, till now.

            I’m much much less angry and bitter now thanks to God. I read this verses in the Bible when I sin (Romans 12 : 18-21).

            18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
            “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;_ if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
            In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

            21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

          4. Thank you very much, April, for your ministry and for directing us to our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m learning so much here about marriage.

          5. Ev,

            I will pray for God’s direction for you about whether to separate – it is a big decision. I’m sure He will lead you in what is best. I pray for you and your husband to bring great glory to God, my dear sister!

      2. Lmsdaily, . Today, it has been 9 months since bomb drop. What a roller coaster ride. But I am at such peace.

        You inspire me so much with your calm assurance. You seem so peaceful. It has been 9 months since my world has been turned upside down and I am just now trying to seek peace! I have been fighting against bitterness and depression. I am such a selfish beast and I have these pity parties…it hurts so much, the things that were said and the way my husband shut me out but yet talked to his friend at work. I need to remember that I hurt him for years and years and I am now reaping what I have sown. It’s time to start sowing love, care, compassion, respect, admiration and joy! It’s time to take the focus off of me and put it on God and my husband where it should have been all this time. My life has mostly been all about me and my agendas, projects, etc. It’s time to shift focus! I’ll be praying for you and your husband also. Thanks so much for being such an encouragement to me

        1. I’m so glad you were able to be encouraged by my story! Make no mistake, I struggle daily with keeping peace.

          It really helped me to set my own hurts aside…for now, and focus on stopping the hurtful things I was doing. Commit to stepping off the hampster wheel and choose to take a more godly perspective. My husband hurts me daily with his criticism and fault-finding. I look at him as broken somehow. How crappy I would feel to leave him if he was struggling through a medical issue or depression….leaving him when he needed me the most.

          My job is to support, encourage and be a safe place for him, but I was none of those to him for a long time, so earning his trust is going to take time. Imagine a jumpy, wary dog who has been abused. You try to make friends with the dog because you care about it, but the more you chase it and try to get it to come to you by calling, luring with food etc, the more it stays far away. Only when you rest and give time, the dog will decide on his own to start taking steps toward you, as he does and sees that you don’t pop up and start chasing again, he will trust more and come closer. After much time, and much patience, he may eventually trust enough to eat out of your hand, more time, sniff you, more time let you pet him….on and on till you can play in the yard and wrestle with the dog.

          I mean no disrespect to men, they are obviously not dogs, but they also can have trust issues if not treated right. I am not at all thinking my marriage is anywhere close to healthy, but at least it doesn’t feel like it’s had a vital artery cut wide open any more.

          The waiting on God part is frustrating. I am constantly looking for some way to “do”, be active, help heal my marriage, but then God speaks to me that my job is to learn respect, dig out my idols, lay down my crazy expectations, and let God handle my husband, it is not up to me.

          Learn about boundaries in marriage, learn about your thinking that you may have operated on for most of your life and where it may have gotten twisted…like when you were little or a past hurt that has not been let go. Are you putting fears on your husband that have nothing to do with him? Even if he never changes, can you still love him? Even if he can never be the husband you expected, can you stay with him because of the promise for better or worse? (Obviously if there is abuse, unrepentant drug use, or major issues, then the safety of you and the kids is needed immediately and it may be time to seek help asap).

          Feelings can change, yours did. You can’t “fix” him, but he can’t “fix” you either. Do you think there are things about you he may wish were different? He has a need to be understood and listened too as well. At this point, there is no use arguing or trying to get your viewpoint across, he can’t hear it, especially if you are loud or disrespectful, to him, he doesn’t care anymore, he is consumed by his feelings and a prisoner to his emotions.

          Try not to exasperated yourself by forcing a viewpoint on him when he cannot see through the fog. Instead, try to understand what he is feeling, anger, frustration, sadness, hurt etc, even if you don’t understand or agree with WHY. It doesn’t matter, he can be disarmed with empathy. Then let him mull it over for a while. I found it takes about a week for my husband to churn things out in his mind. It also takes me about a week to discover a sinful action, or something I can do better, ask God for forgiveness, understand the how, why and what I could have done/said different and be at peace with it. So far I have stayed a few steps ahead of the circumstances, but I get surprised as well.

          My big thing is learning how to talk to him about my concerns or wishes when I am assuming he will not agree or like it. It’s not fair of me to assume, it takes away his chance to show love or respect back. April is right, this is a lifelong journey, look for little successes. One time my biggest blessing was that we were too broke to afford a divorce! Not a great blessing, but a blessing just the same, it has built from there and God shines the light on my path only for the next step or two.

          Only He knows the whole journey. Hang in there and use this time to better yourself, no matter what your husband decides, you will be better off and stronger in the end. Many hugs, prayers and blessings being sent your way. Thank you for the prayers and encouragement as well.

  10. I am praying for you both (Hopeful and Lmsdaily) right now. It’s almost jaw-dropping to hear the grace you both have for your husbands right now, but at the same time….all things are possible with God. Only Jesus in someone’s life can produce this kind of unconditional love, this strong faith and obedience to God’s will. It’s a reminder that God will give us the grace we need to face whatever comes our way in this life. We don’t have to worry about it today, we can trust that His grace will be enough for when the trials come.

    You have both inspired me with your stories. (Lmsdaily, I had read some of your comments on the Q&A section the other day and was wondering what the latest was and then you posted on this entry). Trusting that God is giving you both, even now, the treasures that can sometimes only be found in the darkest of our days.

    Isaiah 45:3

    I will give you the treasures of darkness
    And hidden riches of secret places,
    That you may know that I, the Lord,
    Who call you by your name,
    Am the God of Israel.

      1. Yes, thank you so much all of you for your prayers. It means so much to me that I gave you all supporting me and the others on this site. We need that love from each other during these times, I believe God sends us to each other at just the right yime. Ahhh, I see what you did there God, having April start this blog and working in the Google searches, very crafty!

    1. Today I am in an uncomfortable place.

      My kids are away on separate vacations and my husband is “working”. I knew better to have an expectation that he would want to spend time with me. I am experiencing a grave sense of loneliness for two dsys. BUT, God is here with me, keeping me busy and giving me work to bless the elderly at my work by being their prayer partner. My mom has invited me to dinner, and I am busy repainting.

      Last night I felt the urge to lay into my DH for not wanting to come home, but I kept it to myself, then the next morning he called and we had a pleasant talk. He is going to help me paint tonight. A small, but very appreciated blessing. I am deep into my journey of learning how reactions make such a difference. I know more about what I am made of on the inside and feel proud of myself for hanging in there. I feel like I have way more commitment, faith and positivity in me than I ever knew I could contain. I feel so much more love for my husband even though he is the most hurtful to me right now. I have never felt more unloved by a human, but more loved by God.

      God’s love is so much more, but it’s hard to keep that human longing away some days. There are hours (not days or months anymore) where I allow the self pity and fatigue to be felt, but only briefly, then I pick myself back up by reading April’s blog or the Bible. I can be sad for a season, but I am careful to not wallow in it. I also listen to Joel Osteen on 128 Sirius radio and in Sundays. I never thought I would have become a spiritual person, it seemed so hokey to believe in something you can’t see or hear or feel. But when it happens, there is no denying it.

      I get so excited when I find someone I can talk about God with since i can’t talk with my DH about God. I am learning that giving space and time is not something I feel comfortable about, because it feels so unloving to me, but I see it helping my dh. Lately he has become more quiet as I appologize to him for the disrespect of the week that I have uncovered. He thinks I am calling myself some sort of monster and he feels I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I tell him I am glad to find out about my disrespect because then I can do something about it and learn. He asked me if I have “found myself and if this is the new me” I told him I will always be improving and my masterpiece isn’t finished until I die.

      BUT the biggest difference is that now I am very open and willing to hear my sins and mistakes so I can learn from them. Before, I would deny them and blame others and close my eyes and ears, so unwilling to learn. My pride made me think I knew it all already. Such lies I told myself! Humbling myself to accept my mistskes and not try so hard to achieve perfection has been a huge breakthrough and source of peace for me. So much less pressure on me, and less reactive emotions because of it. The whole house is less tense now.

      I have a ton to learn and never want to stop. I know that if I didn’t change me, I was 100% guaranteed to lose my marriage. But by me learning God’s way and working on me, there is a very slim chance our marriage might survive. Still small, like maybe 5%, but it’s the only chance I have. There is no guarantee that our marriage will make it, but I am 100% certain I will be much better off now that God is with me and divorced, or married, we will all benefit from my new attitude and faith. It is so worth it and I never want to go back to the bitter, angry person I once was, she has died and I am so grateful.

      I think my DH is too, but he hadn’t set his pride down yet to admit that to me. He has his own discovery to go through. In the end, I know that God’s will will prevail and his goodness will shine.

      1. LMSdaily115,

        I had several years of much loneliness in the beginning of this journey. Greg was still so shut down for a long time – it took 3.5 years before he felt safe with me again. When I began to feel that ache of loneliness, I would turn to praise music, praising God, worshipping Him, learning more about submitting to Him and living for Christ, studying about becoming a godly wife and woman, or sermons to help me grow in my understanding of God and the Bible. I began to realize that when I had that desire for closeness emotionally with my husband – I could turn to God and He could satisfy my longings for connection in ways my husband never could.

        That is still the case, actually. There are many times he is working on projects, or he is doing something by himself – he is rather introverted and needs time to himself to unwind. I cherish these times now. I either use them to draw near to God – or now – to do ministry. Now I know that I desperately need this time with God to recharge myself while Greg is having his time to himself. Then we are both in the best possible mindset when we do spend time together and we enjoy some really deep conversation now almost every night, which I love, and some cuddling time almost every night. That is a big change from how things used to be when Greg (at first when I began this journey) wouldn’t look at me, hardly touched me, and didn’t listen to me or want to talk with me.

        I am so thankful you didn’t react out of resentment last night and that your husband is planning to help you paint. That is DEFINITELY a blessing! Yes, our reactions make a profound difference. When we are filled with God’s Spirit and react in obedience to Him – things are VERY different, much more peaceful, much less turmoil, much less struggling, fear, and worry.

        I love what God is doing in you. I love what you shared with your husband. I believe God will heal your husband and your marriage in time, my beautiful sister.

        Much love to you!

        Thank you for being on this journey with me. You are a blessing!

        A Lightbulb about Loneliness – by a single sister in Christ in her early 30s.

  11. Hey April 🙂 Just thinking about codependecy/idolatry. I remember reading once that when one person in the marriage begins to pull out of the codependent patterns of relating, and begins to get “well”, it is not surprising when they other person starts getting worse. Sometimes that’s because as long as we are still spiritually sick, they can focus on what’s wrong with us which blocks their vision from seeing what’s wrong in them. But when the “other” person gets healthy, that cover or prop is removed and they are left alone with their own stuff. At some point they will either choose to seek wholeness for themselves too or remain in denial about their own sin and wounds. Of course much of the literature on codependency is written from a secular standpoint, so outcomes can follow a predictable pattern unless God gets involved. That’s why I think it is hugely critical to have someone praying with you and for you who has faith and real expectation for God to move, someone who has seen God do the seemingly impossible before.

  12. Beautiful post. Bitterness in marriage is not a good thing because it causes contempt and contempt is the opposite of respect and also the leading cause of divorce, according to some studies.

    As to bitterness, I have really struggled with that one in some challenging situations. The thing is, the enemy comes to kill, steal,and destroy. Even when one’s bitterness is justified and valid, you have already been robbed once. Allowing the wound to fester is like enabling yourself to be robbed over and over again. That’s like letting the enemy steal your peace, kill your grace, and ultimately destroy some of the beauty in life that you may be missing.

    1. insanitybytes22,

      Thank you for sharing! Your perspective is so powerful. Yes, if only we can see the cost of bitterness. It costs us our fellowship and intimacy with God, our abundant spiritual life in Christ, our relationships, our marriages, our sanity, our health… And it empowers us to become partners with Satan to destroy our own families.

      May God open our eyes to the heinousness of all sin – even our pet sins – and may we hate sin the way He does!

  13. April I just want to thank you for always reminding us of the seriousness of sin. The whole Ashley Madison hack has given me a jolt. I realized that I may not do a lot of outward, obvious sins, but I tend to nurse sinful thoughts (such as bitterness). They may or may not be exposed in an obvious way in this life, but nothing–not even our thoughts–are hidden from God and they will eventually be exposed and judged. This is very sobering to me. I love the conviction you have that God doesn’t wink at our sin which I think the church at large often does. Thank you for challenging us!

    1. Anon,

      For some reason, there are some sins that we (corporately) just don’t preach against anymore. Some people talk about the G sins – gossip, gluttony, greed. But there are others that we don’t really talk about too much anymore – pride, self-righteousness, unforgiveness, grudges, hatred, dishonesty, unbelief in God, lack of faith, being afraid of people (rather than properly fearing God above all things), idolatry, taking God’s Name in vain, coarse joking, …

      This is very sobering – to understand that we are much more sinful than we ever imagined – and much more desperately in need of the blood and cross of Christ than we ever realized. But how wonderful to know that God’s love and provision for us is also much greater than we can fathom!

  14. Hi April,

    Can I ask you and your readers this question because I don’t really understand and I really do need to. All husbands need to. I think if we can then the bitterness could well disappear on its own. It always worked with Jesus.

    After a years separation and believing I had made a lot of progress it was a real shock to me when my wife said she couldn’t see any change and I was just as deceitful and financially incapable as always. It is largely untrue but one thing I have begun to understand is the hurt that my beautiful wife feels and where she had a life of overlooking very big problems she now quite rightly sees even the smallest as indicators that there is still too much work to be done. I found an old diary of hers and was shocked that she had been trying to get to me ten years ago!! Basically with the same issues.

    Can you as wives really spell it out, in the most basic of terms so that I can start working alongside her building trust rather than just presenting a periodical “report” saying see what I did. She is near the point of an emotional breakdown and I must at all costs do everything I can to enable her to regain that trust. I pray hours every day, I fast every second day…all these things help but please break it down for me so that I see it through her eyes. She is far, far too valuable to walk away from….

    1. whattheheckthisisridiculous,

      It’s great to meet you. 🙂

      I don’t know much about your situation – but I do know that wives tend to respond well to absolute transparency and to a husband who is willing to rebuild trust and demonstrate accountability and keep promises. Perhaps she is willing to share with you the things she believes she needs to feel safe and secure?

      And, yes, sometimes small things – from a husband’s perspective – can seem like big things to a wife. She may feel that they are indicators of where his heart really is.

      The more one spouse can get rid of all the sin in his/her life and focus on walking in obedience to God and in the power of His Spirit – the easier it will be for the other spouse to trust.

      If she has been feeling that there were big issues for a long time, she may want to see a lot of changes for a long time before she feels that she can trust again.

      If you’d like to talk more about her concerns, I will be glad to offer any insights I can.

      What is you relationship with Christ?

      What is her relationship with Christ?

      Praying for God’s wisdom for you, my brother.

  15. You know I want to receive everything you have written, I agree with it in my head. I am however at a point where i have completely shut down because of the hurt am going through. I don’t know if I am bitter, I just know that I am hurt to the core of my soul.My marriage was never what I thought it was, neither was my relationship with my husband even before we got married. I have to face the reality that my husband has cheated on me from the moment we met.

    He has apologized this and I believe has stopped after I confronted him with his mistress, but my whole perception of him and our relationship is completely tainted, after three years of marriage I have completely shut down. I don’t know if I am bitter and I need to allow God to take that, but I feel dead inside.

    Please pray for me. I have been putting this article aside so that I can read it and relate, but it is hard to relate.

    1. I Need God,

      Oh goodness! So much pain!

      Sometimes, before we can deal with the bitterness, we must dig into the pain and really understand the depths of our pain and the extent of the sin committed against us. But then, we must move on to healing. I think you may need a godly, biblical counselor to walk beside you and help you probe this wound and then help you and your husband move toward healing.

      A spouse’s infidelity would be a large bitterness factory for most people. That sin is not okay at all. What he did was very wrong and extremely hurtful. It grieved God’s heart. And it grieved your heart. It destroyed the trust in the marriage – and rightly so.

      It could be helpful to read Righteous Anger and Jealousy.

      Then there will have to be a very conscious movement toward rebuilding trust together. It may take time. Trusting him is going to have to be conditional upon his ability and willingness to be trustworthy.

      If you are interested in hashing through some things with me for a bit, you are welcome to answer some gentle questions. If not, that is fine, too. No pressure. I want to see you heal, my dear sister! I believe there is every reason for hope in Christ! i know MANY, MANY marriages God has healed from infidelity.

      Is your husband trying to rebuild the marriage?

      How long ago did he stop the affair?

      Another resource that may be helpful is Grace Filled Marriage by Tim Kimmel.

      How is your walk with Christ going?

      What do you believe you need to heal?

      Has your husband been transparent and trustworthy since all of this happened, to your knowledge?

      What do you want in your walk with Christ?

      What do you want to happen in your marriage?

      What kind of support do you have spiritually?

      What are you doing to feed your soul and to help you recover and grow?

      Much love to you!

  16. Thank you so much for your response peacefulwife, I will try to respond to some questions however I can.

    Is your husband trying to rebuild the marriage? I believe he is, he has agreed to go for biblical counseling and prayer with me.

    How long ago did he stop the affair? I am really not sure how long ago the affair stopped because at first he would not accept that what he was doing was wrong, it is only recently that he has admitted everything and seems to be noticing taking responsibility for his actions.

    How is your walk with Christ going? I have been so hurt that I was angry at God. I have been swimming in a pool of depression that seems like was just getting worse, until i decided to consult our spiritual counselor.
    I have come to the Lord in confession as I realize how much I had turned away from Him due to the hurt and I how much i blamed Him for my hurt through my whole life.

    What do you believe you need to heal? I believe I need to surrender my will to protect myself and check out whenever life gets too hard.But it is so painful and I do believe the Lord wants to heal me, I do.

    Has your husband been transparent and trustworthy since all of this happened, to your knowledge? I think my husband has been honest, but I really don’t believe he has been all transparent, it is hard to fully trust him now, this is someone i thought I knew 🙁 I just realized that I really don’t.

    What do you want in your walk with Christ? I really want God to take over and to enable me to let go of my marriage. In the sense that I will be letting Him control and determine how he uses it to transform me. I think my main disappointment is from the fact that I had idolized my marriage s much and felt it could shield me or save me from my childhood pain, I did put it above God and God has been showing me that as we process things together. But it has not taken away the pain and feeling that I gave my all for my marriage to someone who has intentionally rejected me.

    What do you want to happen in your marriage?I feel tempted to say I don’t know because of how much I have shut down, but the truth is I want to heal, I want to look at my marriage the way God does and treat it that way.I want peace and total forgiveness.

    What kind of support do you have spiritually?My spiritual counselor is very supportive and we are also meeting with another couple for prayer.

    What are you doing to feed your soul and to help you recover and grow?I have decided to let God talk to me through His word.I do feel like i have been hurt for so long or toiling in depression because I am missing something that God wants me to get, a bigger picture if you will.

    I have shut down so much that I really don’t have anything to say to my husband-nothing. Sometimes I feel like I will lose it completely, just wake up take my child and leave….I have never felt such devastation in my life.

    Thank you so much for this site. God bless you. I really just need God to break through my pain, I pray that I allow Him to.

    1. I Need God,

      My heart breaks so much for you!! I hope to be able to address the things you have shared later today – but I am wondering – what does the counselor suggest you do at this point?

      Because this is relatively recent – I wonder if you are still in shock? Are you familiar with the stages of grief?

      I look forward to talking more with you in a bit!

      Much love!
      April

      1. Hi April the counselor has suggested that we keep seeing her and the other couple. we go to her for teaching and transformation while we consult the other couple for prayer as God keeps revealing more things to us. To tell you the truth I don’t know if that’s dealing with the pain first . I still feel lost and like I need to navigate my way out of this pain.

        1. I Need God,

          So – what does the counselor actually ask you to do to work on things? What is she asking your husband to do? What is the other couple saying to you and your husband?

          Much love to you!

          1. Hi April

            We will be meeting with the couple for the first time this week together. As for the counselor she really has not come with what my husband or I need to do except we will be seeing her once a week and maybe she will start giving us things to do then. The one thing she has emphasized is that we both need to work on our personal relationships with God and I have a feeling that’s what our meetings with her will be aimed at.

    2. I Need God,

      How has your husband been relating to you since all of this happened? Is he trying to make things right?

      What are you praying for this week?

      Are you allowing yourself to feel your pain and to process your emotions with God about God and about your husband?

      Do you believe God is good?

      How do you believe you can have a right relationship with God? How did you become a believer? 🙂

      What does your husband do now that you are so shut down?

      Have you shared how much pain you are in with him and what you are tempted to do?

      If you get a chance, please listen to David Platt’s Secret Church Series on “Who Is God” and also the one about suffering.

      I have posts here that may be helpful. You can search by topic on my home page:

      – fear
      – idol
      – idolatry
      – how to make your husband an idol
      – overcoming idolatry
      – submission means holding things loosely (meaning – submission to Christ)
      – insecurity
      – security
      – discontentment
      – contentment
      – righteous anger
      – when your spouse is wrong

      Much love to you!

      1. thank you April

        I will look into all your questions and come up with a summarized answer and will listen to David. I have actually read almost all the posts you have referred me me to but I will do it again.

        Thank you – much love to you

        1. I Need God,

          Please let me know how you are doing, how we can pray for you, and what you believe God may be speaking to your heart, my dear sister!

          BIG HUGS to you!

          With much love,
          April

          1. Hi April

            We went to see the counselor last night. After that meeting I had a bit of clarity on what to do. What I would ask for you to help me pray for and what I feel that God is saying to me in the midst of everything is that His purpose is bigger than me and my marriage. In the ways I feel I have judged my husband through this process I also realize I have judged and blamed God. I need God to turn me around and restore my relationship with Him.I need God to slay my will,layer by layer and cause me to surrender it everyday as I feel anger or pride kicking in.

            I do see that what happened in my marriage touched parts of me that I had not surrendered to God and therefore have not been regenerated – parts of me that I felt i still needed to protect myself and therefore would shut down when i get hurt, part of me that is so afraid of rejection that I have guarded even against God.I believe God is good in answering one of the questions you asked me. I do believe He wants to come through, my prayer is to allow God to come through for me.

            thank you so much for following up on me.Much love and God bless your heart

          2. I Need God,

            I’m so glad that you are seeing things more clearly. That is a blessing! I pray that God may give you increasing clarity and that He might show you anything He wants to work on or do in your heart for His good purposes. I’m so glad that you are seeing things that God may want you to let go of and different ways of looking at things. I am also glad that you can already see that God may use this painful and fiery trial to touch areas of your heart that were unsurrendered to Him before and that this might be a door to great spiritual healing in your walk with Christ – and in your marriage.

            Much love to you!

  17. I need God,

    I have never been in the position that you are in, but I recently had somewhat of a grieving period regarding trust issues between me and my husband. During that time, I bought a book called Healing Your Marriage When Trust is Broken: Finding Forgiveness and Restoration by Cindy Beall (who I think, based on what I read in the book, has a blog also). Her music minister husband was addicted to pornography and had multiple affairs before confessing to her (because one of the women became pregnant with his child). You might be interested in the book. I downloaded mine on my kindle app and read it within a few days.

    Some of the things that stuck out to me that from the book:

    She suggests not trying to decide what to do with your future right away (whether to leave or stay, etc). This takes the pressure off of you while God gives you time to grieve, hurt and process.

    She talks over and over about how it takes two fully committed people to repair a marriage that has been broken by infidelity. She talks about how her husband was fully repentant and sorrowful and that he took drastic steps and was accountable to the church. He proved over and over again that he was willing to do whatever it took to heal their marriage.

    She is very honest in the book about her emotions and thoughts. It is painful to read, but her frankness, I think, would be very good for someone like you to hear.

    In my own experience of pain and hurt, here are some things I’ve learned…it’s o.k. to be hurt and sad, it’s o.k. to not act happy when you’re not. I have learned how to process and pull away without being rude and disrespectful (not perfect, of course!). I used to have fear that my husband would leave me if I didn’t give him the happy perfect wife he longed for during those times or if I was drawing boundaries in our relationship and saying that “This thing is wrong and it hurt(s) me.” Now I know that I need to be true to who I am and not a doormat. I have learned that being honest with my husband about my thoughts and emotions (in a respectful way) is a very good thing. (I think April asked if you had shared with him how much pain you are in and what you were tempted to do). It’s hard to do, because you may not get the response you want, but at least they know what you are feeling and thinking. At that point, they can process alone and/or with God hopefully.

    I am so sorry that you are going through this. I will pray for you now and especially the next coming days as it sounds like you are very fresh in your grief and hurt.

    I pray that God will speak something specific to you – that you will KNOW that it is God speaking to you and that it will give you HOPE.

    Praying for HOPE for you right now, my sweet sister.

    1. Jennifer

      <3 <3 I have no words, I can actually feel your love as you write. Thank you so much for responding to me. i will definitely get that book. thank you for sharing it makes me feel like I am not alone.

      Thank you so so much my dear sister

  18. If the families of believers in Charleston, SC werre an example of the godly power and glory of forgiveness, the news from Virginia today are a terrible and sobering warning about the destructive power and progressive nature of unforgiveness and bitterness. 🙁

    How I lift up the families of the murdered news anchors to God and seek for God’s kingdom to somehow be glorified in this tragedy. May God use this somehow to bring many to Christ in ways we cannot begin to fathom.

  19. Hey ladies, I was wondering if perhaps any of you could help me. I have been married, but I married him for ALL the wrong reasons….mainly because I didnt want his parents to be upset at me for breaking up with him– they are his baby, and others such as financial security and a better financial state. I have been in love with another guy, who has been my friend for many years, even before my husband and I met. We dated the summer before me and my husband met, but I broke up with him because my brothers made fun of me for dating someone who was over weight. I loved this guy, and always have, but I come from a very disfunctional family, so I didnt pursue it. Now after 6 years with my husband, this other guy haunts me. Every day I think about him, all day long. I don’t know how to deny the way that I feel for him, because denying it seems so wrong. Could anyone help me reason this, and figure out how to love the other man with the correct love of God…as like a brother or a sister…and to love my husband the way that I am supposed to? My husband is very good to me, but we have nothing in common, and I dread conversation or time with him because my head and my heart are not in it. What can i do. I feel like I am going crazy, and don’t know how much longer this can go on. My husband knows everything, and lets just say, we are both barely hanging on.

    1. April,
      Thanks for sharing this video. Quite amazing. I don’t understand how he could teach that fast. My brain struggled to keep up. Am looking forward to watching the rest of the series.

      Also, last night I was reading through the comments on this post. Some really great conversations, especially between you, Prophet, and hh. Was thanking God for gifting you all with the ability to articulate things so clearly. I was so blessed!!

      One other note: On another blog this week I read a warning of the dangers of getting into the habit of joking or teasing with someone of the opposite sex and how that can open up the door to infidelity. I thought it was inspiring to use that info to tease and flirtatiously joke with my husband. It effectively lit the sparkle in his eyes. I think it’s part of that idea of being your husband’s “girlfriend.” 🙂 I think one of the gentlemen mentioned being his girlfriend on this post, or maybe I’m wrong.

      1. Julie,

        David Platt does go very quickly!

        I’m glad that those discussions were a blessing to you. 🙂

        I agree – it is good to be careful about teasing – which can easily lead to flirting or be confused with flirting – with other men. But sweet to flirt with our own husbands. 🙂

  20. Yeah! I dislike with a passion my husbands friends!! When he’s around them he’s different and drinks excessively and sins! They influence him very badly and I just want them to stay away from my dear husband but he loves them.
    I hate it and have so much bitterness it’s coming between my husband and I. I need to start trying to let go of that asap I guess…

    1. Leah Steff,

      I can certainly understand your concerns about your husband’s friends. It sounds like you have legitimate complaints against them.

      You can acknowledge that these friends are ungodly and a bad influence. You can even voice that you are concerned about their ungodly influence (in a respectful, non-pressuring, non-controlling, non-freaking out kind of way – i.e.: “Honey, I know you are a better man than this. I feel sad when I see the things you do when you are with these friends.” Of course, if you have been really disrespectful and hateful toward him for a long time, he may not care about your feelings right now. He may need to see God change you first for awhile before he begins to care about your feelings again.) But then – your husband does have the ability to choose what to do. He may not always make the best choices.

      Your heart does not have to be overcome with bitterness and resentment – even if he is making wrong choices – thankfully!

      How is your walk with Christ going?

      What do you believe you need to be happy?

      What are your greatest fears?

      Is your husband a believer?

      Check out this post about healthy vs. unhealthy relationships and let me know what God may be speaking to you.

      If your husband is involved in alcoholism, is getting drunk, is cheating on you, or doing drugs or something – you may need to confront him about his sin. Here are two posts that may provide additional insight:

      Righteous Anger and Jealousy
      Confronting Your Husband about His Sin

      If he is addicted to alcohol or drugs, or he is involved in infidelity – please seek appropriate, godly, trustworthy counsel.

      Much love to you!

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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