Bitterness: A Hindrance to Intimacy in Marriage (Ricucci)

Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace Ricucci, Gary and Betsy cover image

When it comes to marriage, there are many things that get in the way of good intimacy between husband and wife. One could make a long list! It’s a big topic for sure. Speaking of this topic, one helpful resource is a section of Love that Lasts by Gary and Betsy Ricucci. Chapters seven and eight of this book discuss the topic of sexual intimacy in marriage. At one point the authors talk about things that get in the way of intimacy. I won’t give the whole list here. Instead, here’s one that I thought was helpful:

A subtle but deadly attack on romance sometimes comes from bitterness. Bitterness is that deep root that has allowed disappointment, unmet expectations, offense, or unforgiveness to deceive us into believing we didn’t get what we deserved, or got what we didn’t deserve. Bitterness passes judgment on others, including God, because of their failure to satisfy some desire we have deified in our hearts. Bitterness is so wicked because of the self-righteous judgement that sees the faults and failures of others as exceeding our own. And it results in a failure to forgive others as we have been forgiven.

Friends, the cross of Jesus Christ reminds us that none of us should want what we actually deserve (the wrath of God), and the gospel reminds us that mercifully, if we are Christians, we won’t ever get it.

When affected by bitterness, we withdraw, neglect and avoid our spouse, caress and compliment less, and criticize more. If this is you, you must go to the cross and consider God’s mercy and grace towards you, a sinner who needs the Savior every bit as much as everyone else. Confess your bitterness as self-righteous sin against God. Then pursue humble, open, and redemptive conversation with your spouse. Let God rekindle your care and affection for one another.

Gary and Betsy Riucci, Love that Lasts, p.122.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015