“Who we are at home, behind closed doors, is who we really are.” (Women Living Well) OUCH!
Who are you at home? Are you the same person that you are at church, at your kids’ school, at the grocery store or the bank? I think we all tend to put on a happy face to the outside world when there is trouble at home. I will be the first to admit that I do this. The problem, though, materializes when you become someone completely different when the front door closes. Our homes are our “safe places,” therefore it becomes all too easy to take our frustrations or stresses out on those we love, especially if we have been letting them build up over time. It’s one thing to not air your dirty laundry in public, however it is something entirely different to morph into a completely different person in the confines of our homes. The root of this problem is bitterness.
Proverbs 19:13 says, “A wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.” That sounds pretty irritating, huh? Do you ever find yourself pointing out your spouse’s flaws? Or maybe you try to hold your tongue, but find yourself keeping a mental list of the things that irritate you or that you think he has done “wrong” only to blow up at some point and spout the list off in its entirety without missing a beat? Focusing on the things that we deem as bad, wrong, negative or flawed is the quickest way for bitterness to set into our marriage.
What if the expectations we have set for our marriages and/or spouses are unrealistic? Setting expectations in our minds of how we think our spouses should react or behave is one of the quickest ways to find ourselves let down, unhappy or discontent with our marriages. What if, instead of expecting our spouses to do something, say something or respond to something in a certain way, we simply wait and listen for their true response? I think what we might find is a lot more contentment and a lot less bitterness due to these feelings of not having our expectations met. The goal is to strive for happiness in the home that, even in the difficult times, triumphs the bitterness that can eat away at our lives. So, how do we accomplish even part of this? Thank you for asking!
First, when you find yourself making that mental list of “wrongs”, try making a similar list of “rights.” Maybe even write these good things down and look back over them when you find yourself reeling through your mental list of “wrongs.” If you’re feeling especially giving, try reading your list to your spouse! Courtney suggests not letting your bitterness fester. She suggests confessing to God the bitterness that is in your heart through prayer. You could also memorize scripture to repeat to yourself when you find your mind spinning toward the negative. And finally, if you feel something that you absolutely must get off your chest, by all means do so! Holding on to true hurts will absolutely cause bitterness! However, instead of blowing up immediately, take time to pray about it and ask God to soften your heart when you speak to your spouse. Then, instead of completely focusing on how you were hurt or upset, point out some positives in the situation. Leave the conversation on a positive thought and with a prayer.
Strive to be one person, the same outside the home as you are inside the home. Live like He is always watching (He is)!