“You need to focus on letting go of this bitterness and forgiving one another,” the counselor says, almost every week. And, almost every week, I remember something that’s happened that makes me angry, brings me bitterness, and allows the enemy to say “See, you’re doing everything right, the struggles in marriage are not your fault.”
Lies. All Lies.
I listened to a pastor talk about marriage this morning while getting ready for work, and he said something that struck me differently than I ever have been struck by this before. He said “You are the problem in your marriage.” and then he had the audience repeat–
“I am the problem in my marriage.” And I started repeating it. And I started hearing myself. And I started realizing that it’s true.
Um, this goes against all logic. Naturally, it’s not my fault, duh. But I bet if you asked any husband or wife what was the source of strife and conflict in their marriage, they would say “My husband” or “My wife.” And, if we’re honest, that’s what we’d say, too.
Honestly, it goes against all logic to sit there and look at your own heart and say “I am the problem in my marriage” and not worry about the other person’s response or actions. The idea can be referred to as “cleaning up my side of the street.” It’s the idea of marriage/relationships as a street. You’re on one sidewalk, your partner on the other, and you’re walking in life together. And it gets messy, because we’re humans and life gets messy. And, when it gets messy, it’s usually our gut reaction to look at the other person’s side walk and say “You need to clean this up! What about that? Hello! Giant mess alert!!” and completely ignore the pile of trash we just waded through.
Sometimes, however, our mess looks differently than the other person’s. Perhaps it’s cleaner, or more organized, or smells better. But it’s just as gross. Sin is sin, and sin plus marriage equals conflict. And it can destroy. Pride and the refusal to forgive sin will sink your marriage. Slowly but surely, refusal to forgive will feed bitterness into your heart at such a depth that you forget that you even like your spouse.
And here’s what I can do. I can clean up my side of the street. I can look at my sin issues and the things I bring to the table that cause strife (or cause it to be worse, or heighten it, or prolong it) and I can ask God to forgive me and clean my heart. And then I can look at husband (or wife, or mom, or dad, or co-worker, or child) and I can say “Forgive me.”
And, even if the apology never comes, I can look at them and say “I forgive you.” Three simple words, that are difficult, yet so freeing. “Please forgive me”, “I’m so sorry”, and “I forgive you.”
Those are the mottos for my side of the street.
Kacy Davis lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband, Collin. She is a special education teacher and advocate of those with special needs and loves her job. She spends her time riding bikes with her husband, running, reading, and enjoying those she loves. Kacy believes in reinventing what it means to be a woman and wife who loves the Lord and longs to help others learn to love the Lord with abandon, freedom, and a greater understanding of grace. She writes here.