Those words? “I’m sorry.”
No one likes to admits they’ve made a mistake. We love to be right. We love it! Sometimes we’ll fight to the bitter end holding on to our rightness even when we know we are dead wrong. Being wrong isn’t so much the problem, admitting is. And saying these words out loud can feel like utter defeat.
The ironic thing is that in a marriage these are the very words that keep your relationship alive. If neither spouse can ever admit they’re in the wrong a subtle divide begins to creep into your relationship.
When we can’t admit that we’ve made a mistake, it sends a strong message to our spouse. It communicates that we love being right more than we love them.
But there’s something scary and a bit intimidating about admitting our faults. It puts us in a place of weakness, a place of vulnerability. Without the security and assurance that your spouse won’t make you feel like a complete fool, admitting you’re wrong sometimes feels impossible.
That’s why there is another set of words that are crucial to a strong relationship, words that break down barriers and create indestructible bonds.
Those words? “I forgive you.”
These words can be equally hard as “I’m sorry.” Our natural tendency is to get even and pay back. We want justice. We want the other person to feel what we feel.
When an offense is committed there is a debt that is owed. In Matthew 18 Jesus tells a story about a king who settles his accounts with his servants. Jesus uses a financial analogy in order to describe the nature of forgiveness.
When an offense has been committed the offender is now in debt to the one offended. In Jesus’ story the servant owes the king an insurmountable amount of money. The king demands that the servant pay it back. The servant asks for more time, but he knows he can’t pay it back. The king knows the same. So the king graciously wipes the debt away.
But don’t be fooled. It’s not as though the debt just magically disappears. Someone still has to pay back the debt. In order for forgiveness to be genuine and real it’s the offended party who pays, not the offender.
In this story of the king and the servant, it’s the king who pays the debt, not the servant. The king takes the hit. Forgiveness is costly. It’s unfair. But without it, no marriage will ever last.
By genuinely saying these words and not just going through the motions, the potential for a healthy marriage is great. Your marriage will grow strong enough to ride out any storm life may throw your way. Other people will take notice of the mutual love you share. And you will leave an amazing legacy for your children to follow.
So say these words often. Live by them. And watch how your marriage grows.