The Women Living Well Book Club – Chapter 8 {Banishing Bitterness}

Book Club chapter 8

Let’s Discuss Chapter 8

Today I want to share some thoughts with you from Elisabeth Elliot’s book titled “Let Me Be a Woman”.

Elisabeth writes:

Who is it you marry?  You marry a sinner. There’s nobody else to marry.  That ought to be obvious enough but when you love a man as you love yours it’s easy to forget.  You forget it for a while and then when something happens that ought to remind you, you find yourself wondering what’s the matter, how could this happen, where did things go wrong?

They went wrong back in the Garden of Eden.  Settle it once for all, your husband is a son of Adam.  Acceptance of him – of all of him- includes acceptance of his being a sinner…

We love reality tv but here's our reality

You will less likely turn into a nagging wife if you recall continually that it is not only your husband who leaves undone those things which (you think) he ought to do, and does things which (you think) he ought not to do, but that you, too, have erred and strayed like a lost sheep, sinning daily by omission and commission.

The consciousness that we are alike in our need of redemption is a liberating one.  For there will be times when you find yourself accusing, criticizing, and resenting.  You begin, almost without realizing that you are doing it, to make a mental list of offenses, anticipating the day when some straw will break the came’s back and you can recite the whole list, sure to add at the end “and another thing…!”

But you will find yourself disarmed utterly, and your accusing spirit transformed into loving forgiveness the moment you remember that you did, in fact, marry only a sinner, and so did he.  It’s grace you both need.”

Ah yes, grace.  Grace changes everything. Grace helps us banish bitterness in marriage.

who we are at home is who we really are (1) (2)


Let’s Discuss:

Often times it is the single women who are told that they need to find contentment in their singleness…but I think married women need the same exhortation.

We must find contentment in our marriages.  That’s what this 3 minute video is all about:

(If you can’t see the video – click here to view it)

Discussion Questions:

1.) When conflicts arise in marriage – and they always do – how do you tend to handle them?  Are you cranky or critical?  Do you suddenly become a history expert and bring up old wounds and mistakes – his not yours?  Or do you become withdrawn and sulk, refusing to deal with the matter?

2.)  Read Hebrews 12:15. What does it mean for something to take root and spring up in the world of plants (and weeds!)?  Why is it dangerous for bitterness to do the same in our heart?

For extra discussion go to the forum and click on the thread that says Chapter 8.

Walk with the King,



  1. 1. Well I usually handle conflicts doing all the above you mentioned, I think my biggest sin is to not let go of prior disagreements and I let the disappointments fester in my heart . After reading your section on marriage I am trying harder to implement your suggestions and do see more peace when conflicts arise, I found once I let go of my expectations and my desires of my husband and focus on what God desires of me, there is more peace between us. It is so hard to be the submissive wife God calls me to be but am learning God’s ways are always better. Your challenges were awesome and felt good to change my focus on doing things for my husband rather than focusing on what he isn’t doing for me, we both have tiring days and need each other’s grace. I needed a change in perspective to be a better wife, thank you.

    2. When we don’t resolve the core of our sin and pray to God to help restore us, the vicious cycle of that sin just makes us a prisoner to it and it keeps multiplying, it festers in our hearts and turns them to anything but being pure which God desires for us. For me I festered past hurt from my birth mom, feelings of rejection, which led to me festering similar feelings from my dad which led to similar feelings of rejection from my husband, I had an awakening that I had to stop this cycle I’ve created within me and pray for God to break me, convict me and renew me. It s a process for sure but beginning it has made many layers of unresolved hurt to be removed so I can be the daughter, mom, wife, and friend God created me to be.

  2. 1. It sometimes kind of depends on what the conflict is about, but usually, I think I tend to keep it in. I feel like I am always bringing up one thing or another and don’t want to come across as nagging! So, I just keep it inside. I know that’s bad, because over time, it does start to build and I get cranky! But, it’s about that time that I usually read or hear something that really inspires me to talk to my husband, and so we sit down and have “a talk.” We go over the things that I have been hurt over or whatever and we talk it out. Then, typically, the cycle starts all over again! lol With smaller conficts or disagreements we have over something, we do pretty good at talking it out right away and try to come to an agreement on how to proceed. I am learning to let go of some things and allow my husband to lead–though that doesn’t always work because he’ll say he feels like he’s taking advantage of me and just always gets his way! So, if it’s something I feel very strongly about, I won’t budge, but if it’s something I can concede on (which it usually is), I will give him the nod.

    2. When we don’t let things go, they can take root in our hearts–they are attached–and they just continue to grow and fester until it crowds out any love you have in your heart and takes over like weeds in a garden bed do. We need to constantly be weeding our hearts so that bitterness does not fully take hold. Like when you let weeds go and don’t maintain, they can become overwhelming and it gets harder and harder to want to tackle them to make the bed clean again. It’s a downward spiral and is, many times, why people divorce.

  3. 1. I am a very cranky and critical wife! I throw his past back at him, even if we have dealt with it. I judge. I say my two cents worth and then refuse to talk until he sees it my way. There has been many arguments that he has come into the room I’m in and he apologizes for something he’s done wrong. But since it is not what I want to hear, I don’t accept the apology. I think I owe him an apology for being such a difficult wife. I am definitely working on this!!

    2. Weeds take over the good plants and suffocate them. They will not grow or produce good fruit. The same is for our marriages. Bitterness will take over our marriages like little weeds. It will not allow your marriage to grow. We have a vegetable garden and I am out there every day searching for weeds and pulling them out. I just need to make sure that I am pulling the weeds and watering my marriage as well!

  4. How do I do this when he hurts me repeatedly. By his actions…by his drinking. Just when I think we are doing good….boom!!! We go back to square one.

  5. 1. When conflicts arise, I am known to be critical and cranky depending on how I am feeling at the time. I tend to try to discuss them, then we both start trying to defend our opinions and then it escalates in to voices rasing, finger pointing and that leads us both to withdraw and walk around the house like roommates. I will say that after 15 years of marriage we are learning to keep calm and discuss our issues like mature adults, although, it is not always within the same day. I used to bring up the past, until I talk to many older sisters and they guided back to the bible on how to respect my husband.
    2. After reading Heb 12:15, It is important not to let bitterness fester in our hearts as this very thing could keep up from seeing the face of God. That’s important to me, while down here on earth I need to work on finding peace with all men, especially my husband.

  6. I was watching Joyce Meyer today and she had her husband come up on stage and sang Willie Nelson’s song “You Were Always On My Mind” to him but instead she changed the words to “I was always on my mind…” It was so funny! She was apologizing to him for all the years she made her husband miserable by only thinking about herself instead of trying to please him.

  7. I do tend to bring up things that have not been resolved. It really bugs me that I do this but yet it bugs me that my husband doesn’t take care of these things. They are minor repairs around the home and I know it is silly to bring them up so after reading this chapter I think we sit down and make a list of these things and work together to fix them.

    I agree it is not good to let things fester because they will boil over and that won’t be good. I want to find that balance of being able to camly and rationaly talk about things that bother us.

  8. Like our walk with God, marriage has to be worked at,Yes, its hard work, you get out of it what you put in.
    Conflicts do arise. We can choose how to deal with it by applying the good old adage, What.Would.Jesus. Do? I know this has become a “cliche”, but its true!
    Scripture says, “Don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath.” I.e never sleep on an argument always sort things out, no matter how trivial it may seem. discuss, discuss. Even if it’s late. Do something nice for your spouse, i.e bring them a cup of tea/ coffee. show love and appreciation by your actions. Pray about it before hand. Make sure you’re in control of your emotions first, and keep calm, or it wont Be a profitable exercise. Always say sorry, both apologize if you have to. Show Godly maturity. Sometimes we can’t always see we’re just as in the wrong as the other, by our actions/ behavior. Move on FORGET it! Try not to dwell on the issue after its been resolved, no further delving/ dissecting, unless you really feel you need extra discussion, then you can politely tell your husband. . Guys are different to women like that they normally like short and sweet apologies and that’s it. Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching for the things that are before Philippians 3:13. Try not to bring up past mistakes. We all make blunders! When God forgives us of our sins He forgives us and forgets it and removes it as far as the east is from the west.

    A root of bitterness will produce bad fruit, therefore you will reap bad consequences.

  9. When conflicts arise in my marriage I tend to do all that you said above. Depending on my mood-I will fight back, I am not a sit in the corner and wait it out type woman. I let my husband know exactly how I feel. I like to get the feelings I have on the table and my husband tends to with hold some. I will admit though that I am getting better at just letting things go rather than start a huge argument just for arguments sake. I feel that there is no point in sweating the small stuff.

    Weeds take over when left to grow. Just like them-our sin and bitterness will take over our heart if we don’t learn to get rid of it. We need to let go of bitterness and forgive.

  10. When my husband and I have conflict, I get cranky and sulky. I call it spoiled child syndrome-I want what I want. God has been working in my heart about it. I have a conversation with Him where He reminds me that I am acting immature, so I relent. It is a process, and once we get to the working out of the conflict, we tend to work well.

    Taking root and springing up leads to growth. If bitterness isn’t driven out, it can drive a wedge of unmet expectations between my husband and me. I am convicted by the first part of the verse that says, “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God.” I want to nurture grace in my marriage.

  11. I am LOVING this Book Club!! It is so refreshing to open up my email inbox and have encouragment for my marriage and family waiting for me. I think one of the biggest things to remember is that I am a sinner and I am married to a sinnner. We have to give each other grace or life get messy really fast! Another thing I have to remind myself often, is that God never meant for my husband to fufill every need in my life. We both need to be seeking the Lord above all else. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33. When you keep things in the right order it makes marriage more joyful.

  12. I understand why my original comment is waiting approval. I should have better written that last sentence. I was in a really bad mood and just vented. My day didn’t get any better, but I won’t elaborate now. Thank you, Laura.

  13. My original comment, revised and edited:

    Sure, I’m a bit cranky. My life is not great and I have nothing exciting in it. I AM a history expert, as it’s my mistakes that got us where we are and where we are not. My wounds are not old, but current and permanent. I’m withdrawn and I sulk because I know there is no point in bringing things up. If I do, then he gets unhappy for me having the audacity of not only bringing things up, or he just ignores what I say. As long as I pretend that everything is fine and dandy, it is– On the surface. I guess I’ll be the good submissive wife and just pretend like everything is fine and let him control everything. (Sometimes, I don’t think I’m much different than the kids, except for the “adult activities”.)

  14. Bitterness and unforgiveness are two of the easiest ways Satan weasels his way into our homes. It is easy and culturally approved to feel as though we have a RIGHT to be treated fairly in all situations. When we stop and think about Jesus though we have to remember he was not fairly treated what so ever!! We only have a choice how we respond TO LIFE. Our responses are not always going to be Christ-like but we need to see that, change it and try to be a better version of ourselves next time. It is always harder to do the thing that requires more self control. However, when we do we become the person God truly created us to be! 🙂

  15. My husband doesn’t like to share his heart with me. Over the almost 16 years I have been married, I’ve learned to keep things to myself. I do admit that bitterness has overtaken my heart and I have really struggled with it. Inwardly, I do get critical of him and I don’t like this about myself. I hate that I feel like I don’t have anyone to talk to about what is going on inside my head. Our family has faced multiple military deployments which have resulted in PTSD and anxiety related issues faced by my husband…these have only added to the bitterness issues for me. It hurts me that he can’t share any of the details of what happened to give me any insight into the matter. I am praying for wisdom and understanding. Thank you Courtney for this video regarding ‘Contentment in Marriage’….it is a blessing and encouragement to me.

  16. 1 – I get cranky but I don’t get critical. I sulk and become withdrawn. Of course, most of time I read more in to than my husband. He has already forgotten it and has moved on unlike me which is why I get critical. This read came at a perfect time for me because I was just in that mood!

    2 – Taking root and springing up leads to growth and it takes work to get it dug up.Just like the roots hanging on, bitterness can drive a wedge between unmet expectations.

  17. Wow Courtney…thank you SO much for this today!!! I really needed to hear this!! Things are never perfect in any marriage but I will say that for the most part my husband and I are very happy and content…very much in love with one another. Last night my boys (I have 3 sons) and I went to run errands. My husband stayed home as he had a lot of school work to do. That didn’t bother me at all. As a matter of fact I was relieved as he has really needed the time to do school. Anyway, we’re out and about getting things done and all is well. On our way home I was talking about a friend of mine who is having a very hard time in her life right now and how I would like all of us to lift her up in prayer daily. My youngest son interrupted me and just started spouting off horrible negative things about my friend (a woman he loves like his Aunt) and just wouldn’t stop. This is SO unlike him to be uncaring and mean. He usually has such a big heart. I interrupted his ranting and because his words really hurt my heart I lashed out at him. When I got home I lashed out at my husband. I didn’t think I was lashing out but I was. I made dinner and we all sat around just being upset with one another. Last night for the first time in years my husband and I went to bad angry with one another…no prayers no nothing. After getting some sleep I can see where I erred with my son and my husband. I didn’t handle myself well at all! I feel so horrible! I need to make this right so I will make time to sit and talk with my husband and boys and apologize for my behavior. I can usually be patient and keep my cool long enough to step away and pray before attacking the problem and I didn’t do that. Courtney, thank you for your message today. It really touched my heart.

  18. 1. This chapter was so timely!! When conflicts come up in our marriage, I’m definitely a “stuffer”. I will get annoyed but then usually shelf the argument or complaint (not forgetting it or forgiving my husband) until I can’t take it anymore and just vomit everything that I think he has done wrong onto him. If my husband did this to me, I would be devastated! I need to do a much better job of extending forgiveness and grace.

    2. If bitterness is like a weed or a plant, taking root– it means that it’s growing larger and it becomes harder and harder to remove. What starts as one little thing can become a monster in our lives if it isn’t dealt with.

  19. Ok, to answer the questions…
    1.) A long time ago we learned not to bring up the past as it’s not relevant to the situation at hand and it just makes for lots of ugliness and hurt. I like to get the situation talked out and dealt with right away. My husband and I are both talkers so this isn’t an issue. I try to present things from my view point and how I’m feeling and I try to do the same while listening to my husband. If it’s an issue my husband has I like to try to find a solution…how can I help him or what can I do for him.
    2.) Allowing bitterness to take root in our hearts is furthering satan’s kingdom. That’s how he gets in! It’s all about the heart and what we allow or don’t’ allow to take root in our hearts. Uprooting bitterness can be a difficult thing but it can be done. Bitterness rooted in the heart just leads to discontentment, unhappiness, anger and even hatred. It can tear you down and those around you. It’s a very destructive force. We need to be aware of what is taking root in our hearts. The question to ask is if what is or has taken root in our hearts is of God or not. Bitterness can even lead to health problems not to mention problems in your relationship with others. My father is an extremely bitter person and refuses to see things any other way. He has lost many relationships in his life and is constantly in and out of the hospital for life threatening issues. I believe God is trying to wake him up but he isn’t’ listening. I believe long rooted bitterness puts or can put a kind of estrangement between us and God. Bitterness can lead us to some pretty dangerous places.

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