I tell couples in pre-marital counseling that one of the keys to successful marriage is maintaining a forgiving spirit. Nobody’s perfect, and sadly, we often hurt the person we love the most. It may not be intentional, but it is inevitable when two people live together.
While I recently wrote about four ways husbands can unwittingly kill their marriage, wives oftentimes emotionally injure their husbands—and many wives remain oblivious to the damage.
Here are five of the most common ways a wife hurts her husband without realizing it:
1. Publicly embarrassing you.
2. Constantly criticizing you.
3. Expressing discontentment with her life.
4. Failing to express appreciation.
5. Sexually depriving you.
These injure the male ego and inflict emotional pain resulting in anger and resentment. If you identify with any of these and harbor hard feelings toward your wife, here’s what you can do about it.
1. Repent of your bitterness and anger.
You must see your resentment as wrong before God. It grieves the Spirit of God, breaks your fellowship with Him, and alienates you from real fellowship in the family of God. If you’re harboring resentment toward your wife, or anyone else for that matter, you need to confess and forsake it.
2. Realize you may not be the only one hurting.
The truth is that women who inflict emotional pain on their husbands are usually wounded themselves. So, make sure you’re not guilty of injuring your wife by neglecting her needs or by doing something that hurt her feelings. Her insensitivity may have been brought on by your own. You should simply ask her if you’ve said or done something that caused her pain.
Her insensitivity may have been brought on by your own.
3. Refuse to carry a grudge.
A lot of guys shut down when hurt. They lock down their emotions and attempt to suppress their hurt feelings. Eventually, suppression will cause an emotional overload that releases itself at inordinate times and inappropriate ways. Again, communication is the key. Rick Warren says “revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing.”
4. Resolve to forgive.
A huge part of loving your wife “as Christ loved the church” is deciding to forgive. Remember, you forgive because you’ve been forgiven. In light of the grace God has shown toward you, have you ever any right not to forgive your wife? This is not optional. We’re commanded to forgive. Even if you think she doesn’t deserve to be forgiven, ask yourself, did you deserve God’s forgiveness?
Resolve to forgive your wife, no matter what. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you ignore the pain and pretend it didn’t happen. It’s not minimizing it by trying to convince yourself it was no big deal. It’s simply means extending the same grace you’ve received to the one who’s offended you. The Greek word literally means “to let go.”
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Gentlemen, Satan’s primary strategy against you is to alienate you from your wife by an unforgiving spirit. So, talk to your wife. Communicate honestly and let her know how you feel without going on the offensive.