It’s been called different things:

The nitty-gritty,

     where the rubber meets the road,

          falling on hard times,

               growing apart.

There is a reason that traditional wedding vows include things like sickness and health, richer or poorer, honoring and cherishing. There is something to be said for keeping promises. Usually when problems arise in a marriage, they are a result of one or more of these issues. Someone is sick? Finances in crisis? Maybe someone isn’t honoring or cherishing the other. These things happen over time or abruptly when other factors are thrown into the mix. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if when problems arise we all have a little fairy on our shoulder to repeat back those words we spoke on our wedding day.

Easier said than done, you say.

I know. Believe me, I know. Even today when I speak to people having marital issues I say something like “we’ve been there,” and I’m met with gaping mouths.

“No way, really? You two?” they ask, eyeing my husband who may be across a room gazing at me and smiling.

We steal kisses in hallways and hold hands under tables. People assume we are perpetually stuck in the “honeymoon” stage of marriage, but that’s just not true. I know how hard the hard times can be. I know how fast a mind can ninja through the thoughts: divorce attorneys, custody arrangements, child support payments, job searches, and house hunting. The wedding vows don’t make it to the front of the mind for some time when you meet the hard times. It’s like falling into a pit while walking on a beautiful sunshiny day, hand-in-hand with your beloved.

You can’t ever forget the day your life changes.

Many say that when someone wrongs you, “you can forgive, but you don’t forget”. Well I call those people naysayers. Sure, you don’t forget things per se, but in forgiving you can choose to remember other things. For instance, during our second year of marriage my new husband and I had made a lot of mistakes, so many in fact that when all the issues finally culminated in one night and one epic fight, our wedding vows were the last thing on my mind. My mind was ninja-ing through thought after thought. I was terrified of what lay ahead, and I was angry. You better believe I was angry–at him, at myself, at all the circumstances that led up to that moment, the moment we fell in the pit on our sunshiny walk.

Choosing to remember other things

When we fell in the pit of despair we were both considering “the easy way out”. Well, let me reiterate this point: if we had taken “the easy way out” we would have forever remember the bad that happened in our marriage. Instead, through the power of prayer and forgiveness, we now can remember the redeeming love we have for each other, and that God has for us both. It doesn’t matter what’s happened to bring your marriage to the point of separation or divorce, or even just dead. When you forgive and move on, remembering that redeeming love, you know you can make it through any other trial together, because of that love.

I remember the day my life changed.

It was three years ago this very week. All of our mistakes and issues had been stacked on a thin layer of ice on a cold December pond, as cold as both of our hearts toward one another. Perhaps some of the issues could have been dealt with had they not been piled one atop the other. Perhaps our circumstances played a rather large part in the events that led to the D-word discussion. When the D-word came up, it was a loud and ugly conversation. There was no love there, no understanding, no prayer, and no forgiveness. Why, instead of fighting with each other, weren’t we fighting for our marriage?

When we weren’t willing to do the work, Someone was.

What an awesome God we serve, Who can take a hard heart and soften it to forgiveness! If you’ve ever truly needed to forgive someone, and forgive yourself, you know that it isn’t within our human capacity. There is Something greater at work where forgiveness is true, and reconciliation is obvious. That is what saved our marriage. When the yelling stopped, in the silence of the night our hearts were softened, and the morning brought a new life to our marriage.

It’s worth it.

I’ve never heard of a couple who was sorry they stuck it out and made it work. I have never heard of someone who genuinely forgave and reconciled out of love, that wasn’t able to do it again and again as love grew in the heart. If you are sorry you’ve forgiven, then you may not have truly forgiven.

If you are having trouble forgiving a spouse, other family, or friend consider picking up one of these books that helped me: The Peacemaker, The Power of a Praying Wife, The Holy Bible.


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /