By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” is a phrase you may have heard.
While this phrase can exemplify gender stereotypes in a negative way, it is true for all humans that when we are hurt our natural response is anger, indignation, and it can be a struggle to find room in our hearts to forgive.
I know when I start feeling “wronged” by my husband, I start answering his questions with cold one-word answers, I shoot annoyed glares his way, and when he finally asks what is wrong I tend to angrily unload my frustration on him.
Despite knowing that my “go to” responses to frustrating situations help no one in our home, it is a struggle to not let anger and resentment harden my heart.
Pausing to evaluate our feelings first, is a better way to handle the moments when we feel hurt, unseen, or betrayed by our partners. When we just let our reflex of anger drive our conversations, we only end up adding insult to injury.
Taking a moment to pause and pray can help us find a better path forward in our relationships that hopefully leads to healing and reconciliation.
Is This Phrase in the Bible?
No, this phrase is not in the Bible. This saying originates from The Mourning Bride, a tragic play by English playwright William Congreve from 1697. The whole line actually reads “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”
This phrase has been interpreted to mean that a woman who has felt rejected or betrayed can be a powerful force of anger.
Here are a few ideas of what not to do when you feel scorned by your significant other.
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1. Don’t Share your Business with Everyone You Know
One reflex we all have to resist is when we feel wronged we want to dish out all the details of our situation to anyone who will listen. It is our selfish nature to want to “build support” for our case and one way we do that is to gather biased support for our point-of-view.
If our close friends and family can confirm how you have been wronged, it is much easier to justify our indignation.
A wiser course of action would be to confide in a trusted and unbiased party. Choose a friend, family member, counselor, or pastor that you know will be safe for you to share your struggle with.
Select people that are going to fight for you and your significant other. Make sure they will offer biblical instruction that will encourage you to take steps towards healing, whatever that may look for your situation. These wise words can help you see a path forward through the fog of hurt feelings.
When my husband and I have a disagreement, I have a handful of trusted friends with which I can text to share my raw and unfiltered feelings. I know that they will hear me but also remind me that I am loved by God and by my spouse.
These sweet people will rally behind me in prayer and offer up encouraging words. Most importantly, I know they are for my family and not just there because they love hearing the juicy details of the low moments of my marriage.
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2. Don’t Let Your Anger Fester
We have a tendency to fixate on the bad moments and gloss over the good ones. This is one of the reasons why long term relationships can become so hard to maintain!
If we are not careful we begin to expect the worst of our partners and stop seeing the ways they do what they can to show us love. Studies have even found that it takes five positive statements for every one negative one. It takes work to let go of each other's failures and remember the reasons why you love each other.
When you feel like you have been wronged, find a kind and clear way to communicate your feelings with your partner. Make space in your relationship to clear the air and make a plan to avoid repeat offenses.
Once this has happened, forgiveness is your best bet. Bitterness over unresolved anger only leads to heartache and continued conflict.
If there is no way to reconcile, then make space for you to recover, heal, and find freedom from your hurt so you don’t have to bear the weight of anger that would want to eat away at your joy!
Ephesians 4:31:32 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
This advice is not easy to swallow! When we are hurt is just human nature to respond with anger and bitterness. We need the help of Jesus to guard our hearts from hardening towards our partners.
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3. Don’t Minimize Your Need for Reconciliation
Minimizing our need for healing and reconciliation is another trap.
Sweeping broken trust, conflict, and all of our feelings under the rug is not healthy. When someone we love hurts us, it is important to address the situation whenever it is safe to do so.
We may need the help of a counselor or trusted third party and that is perfectly okay! Getting support when you are navigating hurt feelings can be a powerful tool to help bring healing.
Ignoring our hurts so we don’t ruffle feathers sidesteps a chance for reconciliation and does not allow for accountability to be put in place so these sorts of events don't keep repeating themselves.
To grow together, your partner needs to know when your heart has been broken. Your openness allows you to grow as a couple! It stretches you to be real about the hidden things that are going on in your heart and also allows your partner to build back the trust they may have broken through their actions.
Here are some tips for how to approach this kind of conversation:
First, choose a good time to talk. You don’t want to get into this kind of deep conversation when you are pressed for time or when you are feeling upset. Avoid conversational triggers that may lead to conflict rather than reconciliation.
Try to get on the same page on your need to heal your relationship prior to sitting down to talk it out. Avoid making accusations when you are sharing your feelings. Accusations often lead to defensiveness in your partner and can quickly result in a breakdown in your communication.
Your goal is to share your feelings and talk about ways you can change the situation together.
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4. Don’t Seek Revenge
One of our automatic responses to injustice is wanting to get back at the wrongdoer so they feel a bit of the hurt that they caused. Revenge always costs more spiritually and emotionally that you want to pay. When we seek revenge we only add your wrongdoing on top of theirs.
Choosing to forgive doesn’t mean that we give someone else a free pass for their bad behavior but it places them in God’s care. As you forgive, your heart can soften as you trust that God has the power to deal with the other party.
The peace you gain from letting go of the burden unforgiveness places on you is so much more satisfying than the temporary satisfaction taking your revenge offers you. In the long run, revenge leaves you feeling just as hurt and adds the pain of your own guilt to an already broken situation.
Romans 12: 19-21 says, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
This is a high bar we are called to but thankfully God’s spirit gives us the strength we need to resist the urge to take matters into our own hands. It is by God’s grace that we have the ability to overcome evil with good even in the most difficult of situations.
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5. Don’t Forget about God
At the end of the day for Christ-followers, God is the force that holds together our relationships.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” There honestly is no situation too broken for God to fix when we ask for his help.
Even when reconciliation is not safe or possible, God is able to heal our own wounds and helps us work through our hurts so we can experience peace in our lives.
When we start feeling angered, that is the moment to pray and ask God to show us the best path forward. He is faithful to help us through these tough moments so that we can live joyfully together with others.
1 Peter 5:7 reminds us that we can cast our cares on him because he cares for you. When we feel uncared for in our relationships we can find comfort in the knowledge that we can go to God with our hearts and he is always willing to hear us out! He is always on our side.
Remember we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies but again powers in the dark world (Ephesians 6:11-12). Ultimately, our sin and brokenness are a result of evil powers at work in our world. Going to God in prayer is the best way to find victory when this darkness begins to invade our homes.
He promises to fight for us, all we have to do is come to him and ask for his help.
Trusting God with our significant others can be one of the hardest things for us to do! These relationships bring us the most joy but also when things go wrong they can result in deep wounds.
We truly need God’s help to stay free from unforgiveness that we can easily justify in these relationships.
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