Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Extending Grace in Marriage



Several months ago, I won a copy of "Team Us: Marriage Together" by Ashleigh Slater in a giveaway Lisa hosted on her blog. She gave it a great review and I couldn't wait to read it. I received the book in the mail just a few days later and it proceeded to sit on my bedside table for a few months before I finally picked it up and finished it in just a few days. It was a quick read but full of some really great insight on marriage.

It's been months since I sped through the book and while I really enjoyed all the insights on marriage Ashleigh has to offer, especially the discussion questions at the end of each chapter, there is one topic I continue to reflect on months and months later.

Grace. 

It's a word we hear and throw around a lot, but this chapter really helped me refocus on the meaning of grace in my faith and also, in our marriage.

The author reminds us of the meaning of grace, "disposition to to or an act of kindness, courtesy, or clemency" and that it is foundational to our salvation, therefore it should be foundational to our marriages.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9)

God extends grace to us daily, without restrictions, conditions or limits. We should strive to do right and do good, but his grace is given to us for free no matter the circumstance. I remember reading this chapter and really allowing that to sink in. I read it over and over again and spent a few moments basking in how amazing this fact is.

She goes on to say, "We decided that we wouldn't withhold it from one another or force the other to earn it. We'd give it freely to each other, just as we'd received it from the Lord."

I got to thinking about times I could extend a little more grace to Jonathan.

He can be a little forgetful. He forgets names, forgets to tell me he made plans for us next Friday night and if you ask him when my birthday is, he might give you a guilty smile and ask you if if it's May 12th, 1986. If you know him, you absolutely know that his forgetting isn't intentional and it doesn't mean he doesn't care.

It never fails. At the end of every day, I'm likely to find his clothes from the day sitting on the end of our dresser. Whether the clothes are clean or dirty, he takes them off and puts them in the same spot.

Early in our relationship, I can count too many times where I let these little things irritate me. We'd end up double booked on a Friday night because I told him we had plans and he'd commit us to something else and I'd give him a hard time for forgetting. There was a time I might have made a sarcastic comment as I picked his clothes up off the dresser, asking him why on earth he walk a little further to the closet where our laundry basket is and drop his clothes in there.

It didn't take long for me to learn to let these simple things roll off my shoulders. In those forgetful moments, I try to remember that Jonathan has a lot on his plate. He is busy running two successful businesses, strategically managing our finances and setting us up for a truly incredible future, he is constantly thinking and working on bettering our lives and helping others. If he forgets a thing here and there, how can I be bothered by that knowing all of the other things on his mind?

As for the clothes on the dresser, it's so much easier for me to enjoy that quirk than it is for me to be bothered by it. God brought this hardworking, supportive, loving man into my life and I still can't believe I'm married to him. His days are spent working harder than most can imagine and if at the end of the day, he is so ready to get in bed that he doesn't want to walk to the laundry basket, I can't blame him a bit. I love him and want to strive to make life easier on each other. If I can make his life easier by cleaning up after him here and there, why wouldn't I?

I love how the author mentions two important things about practicing grace in marriage:
  1. Practicing grace doesn't mean anything goes. It doesn't mean you turn a blind eye to each other's sins. 
  2. Deciding to practice grace and actually doing it aren't the same thing. She points out that even though her and her husband are determined to extend grace, it's not always easy and doesn't always happen.
I'm glad she mentions these points. It would be big fat lie if I told you I never get irritated with my husband. While I make an effort everyday to extend grace, I'm certainly not perfect and the author is absolutely right, practicing grace doesn't mean we shouldn't call each other out on certain things. On that note, I'm sure of my own little habits and imperfections that require Jonathan to extend grace to me daily and I'm thankful for his grace and acceptance of my quirks.

I'm far from calling myself an expert on marriage and I guarantee I never will. I know for certain though, that in the day-to-day moments when I could become irritated with my husband and instead, choosing to give him the benefit of the doubt and extend a little grace has made all the difference in the world.

Tell me...
  • What situations have you experienced where you could have extended grace, but didn't?
  • How do you strive to see past the trivial quirks that might normally bother you in your relationships?
  • What books on relationships and marriage have you read that stuck with you? 

42 comments:

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