As we were driving to church recently, we heard Renee Swope with the Proverbs 31 Radio Program refer to grace-giving in marriage as being similar to how cartilage protects the joints in our body. The cartilage in between joints keeps the bones from rubbing directly against one another and causing pain. Cartilage protects our joints from wear and tear, helps them to move smoothly, and absorbs shock.
In the same way, when we give grace in our marriage, it keeps our relationship insulated from pain. Couples who show each other grace wrap their marriage with understanding, protect their marriage from destructive emotions, and help each other absorb the bumps along the road of life. (This illustration was quoted from
What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood.)
Learning to give grace has been a life-long journey for me. I spent way too many years allowing my anger to fester when Mark and I would have conflict. Unforgiveness reigned. There was no cartilage that kept our relationship protected. There was no grace in my heart to absorb the relational bumps we would hit.
Grace comes with maturity and it’s taken me some time to grow up. What I’ve learned is that forgiveness and grace are a choice I need to make. I never “feel” like forgiving and giving grace. But when I do, I give life to our relationship.
You know what’s helped me the most? God’s example. The grace and forgiveness He freely gives to me when I don’t deserve it paves the way for how I’m to respond to Mark when he makes a mistake. God’s forgiveness is pure and undeserved. He shows me the way.
I think it was Jill who I first heard say that “Grace allows others to be human…to make mistakes and not be raked over the coals for them.” I’ve truly found that grace is essential to a healthy, loving marriage.
It’s certainly no fun to be on the receiving end of unforgiveness. I’m human. I make mistakes. A healthy marriage is one where it’s safe to make mistakes. But I’ve not always been on the receiving end of unforgiveness. There have been plenty of times that my heart has withheld grace and wounded Jill deeply. For that I am very sorry.
Here’s what I’ve come to understand about grace:
Grace is when you care more about the person than being right.
Grace is when you respond to another person’s mistakes with love rather than criticism.
Grace is when your tone of voice says “I love you” instead of “you’re stupid.”
Grace comes from God living in our heart…you can’t do it on your own strength.
What about you? Is there grace in your heart toward your spouse? What have you learned about grace and forgiveness in your marriage?
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