By Chris Cartwright, Contributing Writer
Photo by Tobyotter
We have all been there. Someone we love says or does something that bothers us. Now we are faced with a decision: do we bring it up to them? Or do we just ignore it? This leads to a host of other questions that pop into our minds. “Is it worth bringing up?” “What did she mean when she said that?” What did he mean by doing that?” and the list goes on.
I think its safe to say that each one of us has been on BOTH ends of this scenario. We have either been the person who says or does something hurtful, or we have been the one who is bothered. So when our spouse says or does something that bothers us, what should we do?
For many of us, our natural response is to choose to “let it go” and think that if we ignore whatever it is that bothered us, it will go away. While there are times when we might be being too sensitive about something and should deal with it ourselves, more often than not, we should bring up whatever it is that is bothering us so that it can be worked through.
Eph 4:26-27 says: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil“
Ok, so this verse is talking about when we are angry…but the principles also apply when we are bothered as well.
Verse 26 says: “Do not let the sun go down upon your anger” but what does that mean? It means that when we are upset about something, it is important that we deal with it right away. But why? Why not just let it go, or at least wait a while to bring it up? Here are two reasons why it is important to deal with what is bothering you right away.
1. It can lead us to drawing wrong conclusions about the other person
When we don’t bring up what is bothering us right away, it leaves us asking ourselves: “What did he mean by doing that?” or “What did she mean when she said that?” The longer we try to figure out the answers to these by ourselves without talking directly to the other person to get the full picture, we greatly increase the possibility of misunderstanding where the person is coming from.
2. Not bringing it up can lead to bitterness
When we do not bring up what is bothering us right away and misunderstand what the other person meant, we give the devil an opportunity to tempt us toward becoming bitter towards them. Here’s what the author of Hebrews has to say about bitterness: Heb 12:15b “see that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled“
So what should we do in order to prevent gaining a false perception on what the other person meant, between the time we are hurt and the time that we bring it up? Phil 4:8 holds the answer to that question which says: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever in honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.“
Whenever the thought: “Maybe he/she meant__by that” pops into our minds, we must reflect on this verse and remind ourselves: “Do I know for sure that he/she meant__? No, because I haven’t asked them yet. Therefore I should think about what I KNOW to be true.”
Then as soon as possible, we should go directly to our spouse (in a private, humble, tactful way) and share with them whatever it is that they did or said that hurt us. Then find out directly from them what was meant…so that Satan has no more opportunity to speak untruths about the other person into our minds.
Getting things right before the sun goes down can cut down on so many miscommunications as well as faulty perceptions that crop up and hurt our marriage relationships. What are some ways which you have found to be helpful in sharing your hurt with your spouse?