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Letting Go of Malice: The Beethoven Effect on Marriage

  For nearly two centuries, Beethoven's death was a mystery. The famous musician suffered from irritability, depression, and abdominal pain. His dying wish was that his illness would be discovered so that "the world may be reconciled to me after my death." In 1994, two Americans launched a study to determine the cause of Beethoven's end, and the result was shocking - lead poisoning. Just like lead slowly and quietly poisoned Beethoven, malice can quietly poison a marriage. To tighten the knot of marriage, loving spouses learn to let go of malice and be full of grace.  This isn’t a new theory from the latest and greatest marriage therapist.  It’s the sound, time-tested wisdom from the Maker of marriage.  

  Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.  
-- Ephesians 4:31-32

Let Go of Malice

  Ephesians 4:31 advises us to let go of malice, which includes bitterness, anger, wrath, shouting, and slander. Bitterness can be like a silent killer that poisons both our souls and our relationships. When we harbor bitterness, we harm ourselves, leading to negative self-talk, memory issues, and amplified negative emotions. Elsa from Disney's Frozen was onto something when she sang "Let It Go!" To let go of malice, we must break through toxic attitudes, hostile dispositions, and abusive speech.

Break Through a Toxic Attitude

  Bitterness poisons our souls and our marriages, much like cholesterol builds up in arteries. We must break through this toxic attitude by releasing the bitterness that hardens our hearts. Don't let silent resentment fester; instead, speak out with love and humility, addressing issues as they arise.

Break Through a Hostile Disposition

  While anger is natural when wronged, holding onto it can lead to hostility. Just as potatoes rot in the pantry when left unattended, anger, irritation, and frustration can fester and harm your marriage. Instead, draw out these emotions, examine them, and communicate openly and lovingly with your spouse.

Break Through Abusive Speech

  Our speech in marriage should be constructive, affirming, and understanding. Avoid name-calling and instead seek to understand your spouse. Constructive communication fosters unity, while abusive speech only divides and creates dissension.

  Be Full of Grace

Ephesians 4:32 urges us to be full of grace by being kind, compassionate, and forgiving, just as God forgave us in Christ. God's forgiveness sets the standard for how we should forgive in our relationships. We must choose to forgive or confess, depending on whether we're the victim or the transgressor.

If You Are the Victim
  Choose to Forgive: Forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting but rather choosing not to hold the sin against your spouse. It's essential to remember that even when hurt, God calls us to forgive as He forgave us.

If You Are the Transgressor
  Choose to Confess: Confession is vital for complete restoration. Acknowledge that your sin is primarily against God, don't rush through confession, and own your sin without blame-shifting.
Healing a marriage poisoned by malice is possible through the power of the forgiveness and grace of Christ.

  Just as Beethoven's life was cut short by slow poisoning, malice can destroy a marriage over time. But by following the wisdom of Ephesians 4:31-32 and imitating God's forgiveness, couples can revive and strengthen their relationship, allowing love and grace to flourish.

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