Battling Bitterness

In any relationship, there will be moments when both parties are just not on the same page. There will be disagreements, and there will be times when expectations are not met.

Unmet expectations may be a breeding ground for bitterness. Have you been there?

The trash wasn’t taken out as expected. He/She forgot to pick up the mail as promised. You were left waiting longer than you believed was reasonable. He/She stayed late at work…again.

Whatever you believe your spouse “should” be doing and isn’t – are you discussing it lovingly, or are you stewing about it?

Human nature says to stew. Oh, the thoughts that pop in our self-centered minds! “I shouldn’t have to put up with this!” “I can’t believe it happened AGAIN!” “Oh, I shouldn’t have to say anything, he should just know.”  ”I wish she’d just stop nagging!!”

It’s so easy to get ourselves worked up when we let ourselves stew over the shoulds, but all it does is give bitterness a foothold. It’s not healthy.

So, how do we combat such negativity? Allow me to share a little secret with you….

Compassion Negates Bitterness.

Challenge your negative thoughts by asking yourself how your spouse may feel. Did he forget because he’s too stressed at work to keep things straight? Is she exhausted? Is that what it was like for him growing up? Does she seem to be nagging because she feels unappreciated and unheard?

Understanding the motivation for your spouse’s actions may not excuse disrespectful or hurtful behavior, but it may help YOU better cope with it so you are better able to remain calm and respectfully address the situations that arise, whether in your marriage or in parenting. Seek understanding and you will gain wisdom.

Philippians 4:8 New International Version (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

As soon as you begin feeling irritable, negative, and hateful:

  1. Check your attitude
  2. Pray for a compassionate heart.
  3. Focus on what is true, what is noble, what is right…. because love isn’t selfish.


What is most important?

I just want to ask you a question: What IS most important? What’s it all about?

Scripture clearly states that God is love (1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love). Love, as defined in 1 Corinthians 13, isn’t about self. It is by nature other-centered. God, therefore, is relational (His being is defined by His relationship to His creation), and we were created in His image (Genesis 1:27)
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them). Have you ever really stopped to ponder that?

We were created as relational beings. What does that mean to our day-to-day lives?

It means that, in our marriages, the relationship is what is important. If we want to live our lives reflecting the example our Creator has set for us, we cannot do that without loving our spouse – meaning we cannot be selfish and godly at the same time.  How does this impact how you parent?

What do you want your children to learn about a loving marriage? It starts early, and is evident in the details. What do you model to your children? Take a moment to look around at the children and teens you know. What is being modeled to them about relationships? Have they been exposed to loving, committed marriages? How does that impact their choices and behavior?

  • Let your children see you doing kind things for your spouse. For example, offer a glass of cold water during yard work, help out with a task your spouse normally does, just to make it easier on the other, etc.
  • Offer your spouse praise in front of the children- tell him/her what you appreciate about his/her character, abilities, etc.
  • Honor your commitments. Don’t threaten to leave every time things get rough. Love is a choice to be committed to the other’s needs, regardless of circumstance.

As always, if your marriage is struggling and you believe your efforts are not helping, please seek help for your relationship. Talk to your minister, find a good counselor, confide in a mentoring couple from your church that you both trust… find some reliable help. Invest in your marriage – your relationships are more important than any of the distractions and trials you may face.

Learn how to love, and teach your children. After all, What IS most important?




Love Isn’t Selfish: Understanding God’s Love Through Human Relationships

Publication Date: December 15, 2012

     Because scripture tells us clearly that God is Love (1 John 4:8), we know that God, by very nature, is relational. Love is an action, emotion, state, and characteristic that requires interaction with another being. Love does not exist alone. Scripture also tells us that we have been created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). We were created to love Him in return, though loving Him will never be forced upon us because love isn’t selfish.

It is this line of thinking that leads me to the belief that the meaning of life is to learn how to love, and then teach others. Considering that our Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) is to go throughout the world and teach others about our Heavenly Father’s commands (such as love God and love others; Matthew 22:37-39), we must learn first what Love is- who He is. 

     Every relationship we form gives us the opportunity to learn a bit more about His character in order to have a better understanding of who He really is. Marriage, family, friends, neighbors, and even enemies can teach us much about who God is and who God isn’t. This book examines multiple relationships we experience and what valuable information we can gather from those relationships about the character of Love, which is to say, the character of God. It’s about learning to be unselfish in a selfish world.