I remember the first fight James and I had as newlyweds. I was not a good cook but I had acquired a secret weapon to aid my culinary cause: a brand new George Foreman grill. It looked easy enough – place the chicken in, close the lid, and allow the patented sloped design and nonstick coating to do the rest! I was going to make chicken, rice and broccoli. This was a big event in my new bride life.

It was about 5:00 pm when James bounded into our small Dallas apartment on the fourth floor. “There’s a guy I passed on the way up,” he said. “He’s just moving in, why don’t we invite him over for dinner?”

There was no way I was having a guest for dinner. First, I didn’t have enough chicken for more than two people. Second, I was nervous about serving the dinner just to James, let alone a guest. Third, our apartment didn’t have much furniture and was in no condition for entertaining. Fourth, I am a planner while James is spontaneous and this was not planned.

I clearly outlined these reasons to James and apologized that we wouldn’t be able to do it. I returned to slaving over my George Foreman grill. About ten minutes later, James waltzed in the kitchen and announced with a twinkle in his eye, “Our new neighbor Walter will be up for dinner in a few minutes.” Didn’t I just say he couldn’t come? I was fuming! After I slammed cabinet drawers shut and set up another place setting, the doorbell rang.

“Hello Walter!” I said pleasantly. During dinner, I ate very little chicken and broccoli as Walter enjoyed my share. Right after Walter left and the door was closed, my smile immediately turned into a scowl and I stomped into the kitchen.

James literally tackled me and threw me on the floor in Tigger-like fashion. He laid right on top of me and put his big grinning face close to mine and said emphatically, “I’m sorry!” I said, “Are you sorry because I’m mad or are you sorry because what you did was wrong and you won’t do it again?” He paused to think about that. After more fuming and talking, he said he was truly sorry and that he would not do it again. I accepted his apology and am happy to say that he has never brought someone home for dinner against my will. Case dismissed! (And Walter, if you’re out there somewhere, you’re welcome to come for dinner as long as you give me advance notice).

Grudge Be Gone 

Fights with your spouse are inevitable. Two human beings who share life together are bound to disagree. In those moments, the happy wife does not seek to be right. She’s not argumentative by nature. She doesn’t automatically go on the attack. Instead, she seeks to resolve the matter at hand. She doesn’t act only in her own best interest. She looks out for the interest of her husband and the marriage.  

There was a church marquee that read, “No matter how much you nurse a grudge, it won’t get better.” When we have been offended, we can rehearse those words or that scene over and over in our minds. We can hold on to our hurts. They even prove handy when we need justification to retaliate or to act coldly towards our husbands. We can boast about how hard we have it to others and receive a sense of importance because of our emotional pain.

But the Bible makes it very clear that we are not to hold grudges. We are not to allow that bitter feeling of resentment to build and grow strong. The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:12 says, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” As if that wasn’t enough, Jesus repeats it for emphasis in verse 14 and 15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

The antidote to holding a grudge is to lavish forgiveness.

This is an excerpt from 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife by Arlene Pellicane (Harvest House Publishers).

Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife and 31 Days to a Happy Husband. She has been a guest on Family Life Today, The 700 Club, Turning Point with David Jeremiah, and The Hour of Power. Arlene and her husband James live in San Diego with their three children. Visit Arlene’s website at www.TheHappyHusband.com.

Publication date: March 5, 2014