Oh marriage…It’s such a funny, amazing, trying, fulfilling blessing. A few months after marrying Sterling I told my mom that I had never loved someone so much but that I also had never wanted to punch someone in the face so much in all my life. I was worried that I had a major anger issue (which maaaaybe I do struggle with that a little bit…) but after talking to my mom and a few other friends of mine, I was assured that that was normal and to be expected. Little did I know, I would be experiencing those same emotions once the kids came. But that is a post for another time…. ;)
Anyway, learning to fight respectfully is something that we are still working on and is so important. But more than fighting well, I think one of the things that has really helped our marriage is the forgiveness and grace that comes after the argument or confession occurs. Let me tell you, I am not the one in our marriage to look to as the example for that. I have a hard time offering grace to people who have hurt me or hurt someone I love, and because of that I tend to view my heavenly Father as having the same issue. That sounds crazy, I know. But when I mess up I feel like I have to work to get back to the “right spot” with God. Or I feel like I have to sit in the shame of my actions for a certain amount of time and apologize repeatedly before he truly forgives me. This incorrect thinking has lead me to deal with a pretty good sized issue of guilt and shame. It is not fun. And my lack of quick forgiveness does not make for fun times when my husband has to confess something to me. For a long time I would make him work for forgiveness or make him feel the hurt of disappointing me for just “the right amount of time” because I wanted him to feel his consequences. I wanted to be in control of his discipline and I was totally missing the concept of grace!! Man, writing this out feels kinda gross. But it’s the truth and I am so thankful for a husband who’s example of grace and forgiveness has strengthened our marriage and my personal walk with the Lord. It is truly changing the way I forgive.
A couple years back I had to confess something to my husband that I knew would hurt him and it made me feel so ashamed. I was fully expecting him to question me, to tell me how much I hurt him, or to make me sit on it for a while before he would really want to talk to me. I stressed over it all day. I felt sick to my stomach because I didn’t want to talk to him about it and “get in trouble”. Finally, the kids were in bed, the kitchen was cleaned, my face was washed and pjs were on. There was nothing left to do but sit and hang out with Sterling. I kept wanting to stall, to find something else to do! (Heck! I would even fold laundry! You know it’s bad when I am willing to fold laundry.) But there was nothing left to do but sit and confess to my sweet husband and wait for his wrath.
But what did he do?? He sat there, looked me in the eyes and said, “Thank you so much for telling me. I totally forgive you and am so glad you got that off your chest." I just sat there kind of stunned. I asked him, “Aren’t you mad? Aren’t you hurt?” to which he replied, “Well yes, I am hurt. But I forgive you and I am just so glad you told me.”. I thought, that’s it? I don’t have to beg for him to forgive me? He isn’t going to make me feel bad about myself until I have reached the appropriate amount of guilt and shame for this situation? Nope. He did none of that. He flat out forgave me and even hugged me. I was so confused. And yet, so relieved. I felt so much better! It was such a picture of our heavenly Father and the grace he freely gives. And it was a total gut check for how I had treated him in the past. All those times I made him feel so bad for something he did that hurt me. All those times that I made him work for forgiveness.
Over time, this instant forgiveness and grace that I have received from Sterling has transformed the way I see forgiveness from my Heavenly Father. My husband has modeled Christ for me and it has strengthened our marriage and my walk with Christ. His selfless obedience to the word of God has helped me offer forgiveness to him, our children and others much quicker and I am so thankful! So when you ask me, what's the one thing that has really helped my marriage, the answer would have to be quick, sincere forgiveness and grace. I thank the Lord for blessing me with a husband who loves the Lord and strives to be like him as much as possible.
Aaaand I’m thankful for a husband who makes me laugh…..laughter is definitely a close second when it comes to things that help our marriage. Be as goofy as you can and don’t take yourself so seriously! When I allow myself to be totally silly around my husband it allows for a unique, emotional connection with him because no one sees me and my humor like he does. I will say, goofiness is not something that is hard for Sterling to access. If anyone of you know him, you know that to be completely true! And when you can laugh at your selves and each other, it sure makes your marriage a whole lot more fun!
Like I said in the beginning, marriage is such a funny, amazing, trying, fulfilling blessing and I would have it no other way.