Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm Sorry...I Forgive You

"What is the secret to a long and happy marriage?"
"I'm Sorry. I forgive you."

I am pretty sure it was while watching the Duggars on TLC (I don't know if they had 17, 18 or 19 kids at that point!) that I heard the above quote, but I loved it. Jim Bob Duggar had asked an Amish man the question, and that was his response. It is so simple, but so true.

The other day, I had a chance to practice both parts of that answer, and I realized how hard it can really be. We have had our fair share of apologies in our marriage, but to be honest we don't have a lot of arguments. I think of us as being really happy in our marriage. What I realized the other day, though, is that it can be in the little hurts and offenses that we can lose our connection with each other. We have little bad habits that hurt and frustrate each other - sometimes we are even frustrated with ourselves. It was one of these habits that gave us the chance to practice our ability to be humble and forgiving.

I am NOT a morning person...I hate mornings - especially loud mornings. I like to sleep in, and I like it to be quiet when I do wake up. That doesn't happen - it cannot be expected to happen in a house with three small children. My DH does not necessarily like getting up early, either - but he wakes up earlier than I do. From the beginning of our marriage He would just about ALWAYS get up and be showered and leaving for work by the time I got up. After having children, he kept his normal routine and fed the kids when he would eat breakfast. Now, he is ready and has the kids dressed and fed before I am up. (I KNOW!!! How blessed am I???) This is great in the sense that I have been blessed with such a wonderful husband, but not so great in the sense that I have never built my own routine for the morning with the kids. So, I feel really out of place if I am left to fend for myself in the mornings. It frustrates me that I have not gotten better about getting up early enough to be with my family all together in the morning, and we both have not gotten better about getting to bed at a reasonable time consistently. (If you were one of the ones I talked to at the beginning of the year, when I was getting up before the kids woke up...yeah, that died with all the trips we took. The kids are now consistently getting up WAY earlier, and I am consistently getting to bed way later...and I was doing so well for a while there!)

On the day in question, my DH got upset with me for not being ready for church when I should have been. We had talked the night before about maybe not going - we had had a very long day followed by a long drive that night and the kids were exhausted. Upon waking, I looked at the time and figured that it was late and we were not going that day. My DH, however, was planning on attending. So, he was ready, the kids were ready, and he felt like I had left him to do all the work on his own and I was not even ready so I could go with them. We had a few words, and he decided to go with the kids. I decided that I didn't want to go anywhere.

"Without Faith it is impossible to please God" Hebrews 11:6
What happened next really reminded me of the verse above. I had decided to start my day, but was not planning on attending church. Then, I had the simple thought, "Consider others as better than yourselves." (Phil 2:3) I started to think about that...what does that really mean? Who had I been thinking of that morning? If I were thinking of my husband and children, I would have asked him what he was planning instead of assuming that we were not going. I would have acted differently when we did talk that morning. So, I changed my mind and got to church as quickly as I could. Meanwhile, my DH was having similar thoughts. He was thinking of what he should have been focused on.

I still felt tension when we were together, so I tried to talk to him when we got home, and a few other times, but we didn't really resolve anything and I was hurt that it felt like I was trying to fix things and he didn't care. The next day, I brought it up again - ready to defend myself for the things I felt he took the wrong way. He then said that he realized he needed to apologize to me. It was completely disarming. The things I wanted to defend myself about no longer mattered. That simple and genuine, "I'm Sorry" saved us a long discussion and argument, and reminded me of the things I needed to apologize to him for.

It seems I learned a long time ago that sometimes, even when we are offended or hurt by someone, it may be that we still need to apologize to them for something we have done. It is hard to do that, and humbling. Somewhere along the way I forgot to be aware of that, and to look for what the other person is seeing. I hope the next time we have a misunderstanding that I will remember to look for what I may have done to cause it, instead of automatically being on the defensive.

I believe that a happy marriage pleases God. I believe a broken marriage breaks his heart. I can see how God showed up in our situation because of our faith and enabled us to do the things that would please Him. I am so grateful that God shows up in these everyday ways...I can only imagine what this situation would have looked like if we did not have faith, and did not have God convicting us of our own errors in dealing with each other.

I think that Amish gentleman really had it right. "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you" may be the most important words that we say in our marriage.


  1. Great insights and beautifully written. May the Lord continue to bless you and your family as you grow together in Him!


  2. Excellent post, Janelle! Your husband is blessed to have you!! xoxoxo


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