My little sister is getting married this Summer and it has got me thinking back to when I was preparing for my own wedding seven years ago. The excitement and the unknowns of it all. The first couple years of figuring out what marriage is all about.
The truth is, we’re still figuring out what this thing called marriage is all about, but if I could go back in time and share with my young(er) self my advice after seven years of marriage, I think I’d tell myself four main things.
Today, I’d like to share the first thing…
#1 He will mess up – forgive and love him anyway
Have you ever heard this quote?
“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”
― Robert Quillen
It’s true. Really true. You may think you’ve gotten to experience what it means to have to forgive your husband-to-be, but you’ve only just begun sweetheart.
You know the common saying, “nobody’s perfect”? Well, I’m going to tell you right now – that’s the understatement of the year.
Yes, no one is perfect. However, the truth is, it’s more than just not being “perfect”. We are all fallen sinners. We bring to our marriages baggage from the past, mixed motivations, sinful attitudes, and selfish actions.
Your husband is going to hurt your feelings. He is going to frustrate you. He is going to make stupid mistakes.
You think you realize this, but the truth is you won’t really see how your husband’s sin affects your life until you are in the daily trenches of doing life together as a married couple.
Just like you have your own sin habits and struggles that you may never fully shake this side of heaven, your husband will too.
When you remind him for the 100th time to please stop doing that thing you hate, and when he comes to you apologizing once again for that thing that’s much more serious, your response must be one of love and forgiveness.
Responding with Love and Forgiveness
Why must you respond with forgiveness? Well, the first and most important reason is because God first forgave you.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:13
In Matthew 18:21-35 Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving servant. In this parable a servant owed a great debt to the king and was to be sold into slavery because he could not pay his debt. He begged the king to have patience and give him time to pay back this debt.
The king had mercy on the servant and forgave his debt, setting him free.
However, when the servant left, he found another servant who owed him just a small amount and, when he could not pay, the servant had him thrown in prison.
When the king found out he was not too happy. This is how the parable closes…
Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Bottom line – when you think of how much God has forgiven you, it makes it a lot easier to keep on forgiving your husband.
Forgiveness keeps you humble
Speaking of the sin you have been forgiven of, having to remember this and forgive your husband is going to keep you a lot more humble.
It’ll be really easy to forget about your own sin when you see your husband’s. You don’t want to go down that path.
Forgiving your husband will help to guard you against becoming like the Pharisee who prayed while pointing a finger at the “sinner” and exalting himself.
The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
Forgiveness brings freedom
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes
When you hold onto your anger and your grudges instead of letting them go in forgiveness, it’s like locking yourself in jail.
When you forgive it brings freedom.
Freedom to love without wondering if he “deserves it.” Freedom to have fun and be joyful instead of being stuck with a hard heart. It gives you freedom to learn and grow alongside your spouse, moving closer together instead of farther apart.
When Jesus said that in this world we would have troubles (John 16:33), our marriages were not immune from that. However, you need to learn early on that these problems don’t have to take the wheel of your marriage.
Yes, address the problems and the sin. Yes, attack them together. Then, put those problems on the back burner and be free to love each other again – lack of perfection and all.
What advice would you give to your newlywed self?