THE IMPORTANCE OF GRACE AND FORGIVENESS IN RELATIONSHIPS
Grace: a generosity of spirit; a capacity to tolerate, accommodate, or forgive people.
The other day my husband casually commented that our anniversary was on Wednesday and wondered what we wanted to do. Being the good relationship coach that I am, I was shocked and said, “Ooooh, my gosh! Is it really?!” My husband paused and looked at me, silently allowing my very relational comment to sink in. I quickly try to recover and say that I knew our anniversary (our 15th by the way) was on the 27th, I just didn’t realize the 27th was Wednesday!
(As I’m sure you can imagine this wasn’t all that helpful).
Fortunately, our friends were over and out of pity I’m sure, one of them offered to watch the kids while we go out for dinner. I thank her very much and say that would be a great idea. I then go to look at my schedule. Well, to make matters worse...I open my book and I just burst out laughing (okay also not very relational, I know). Everyone’s staring at me and my husband, with a smirk on his face, says “Yes Lisa?”
By now, I’m totally in the dog house so to speak and I can’t help but to find the humor in this situation. (Just an FYI: this is the FIRST time I’ve ever been caught off guard by our anniversary so this is not a pattern). Anyway, I proceed to tell everyone that I have an appointment at 5:30pm… with a friend… for dinner!!! UGH!
After everyone got a good laugh out of this, I profusely apologized to my husband, reassured him that I absolutely love him very much and obviously I would cancel the dinner with my friend. Fortunately, my husband took it all in stride and offered me a great deal of grace.
My husband later teasingly reminded me that if he had been the one to forget, everyone would be calling him a typical man and be on him as this horrible cad. I said that’s likely very true and that I was fortunate he isn’t one of “those” menJ. We both chuckled and life was good.
I was very thankful that my husband had a very generous spirit. He easily could’ve been angry and self righteous about the entire episode and made me pay for days or years to come; instead he saw it for what it was--a mistake. He didn’t make it about my love for him, or my being irresponsible, or a thousand other things he could’ve interpreted it as; he simply accepted it as my being human…and for that, I thank him. (Thanks honeyJ!!!)
Relationships cannot be perfect. They can’t be perfect because relationships are comprised of two or more human beings…and human beings are, by nature, imperfect. We will forever be making dumb mistakes. We will forever be forgetting something, responding in a less than perfect way, reacting when we shouldn’t be reacting, coming home later than we planned, and on and on. It’s our very nature to make mistakes.
This is a problem however because although we are all imperfect and prone to making mistakes…we’re not a very forgiving species. In fact, we often do our best to really stick it to our partner when s/he makes a mistake. We want our partner to feel the pain s/he caused us to feel, so we let them wallow in their mistakes and we bash them over the head with it. Forgiveness…nah, that’s not our cup of tea.
What we don’t realize however, is that forgiveness and grace is tantamount to a healthy, loving relationship. Accepting one another’s faults, mishaps, and…humanness, is an essential ingredient to keeping the fires burning.
Always remember with humility that in any given moment you too could be the one messing up; you too could hurt your partner’s feelings, or forget an important date, or give your partner the cold shoulder. You are no more perfect than your partner…and that’s exactly as it’s meant to be.
Offer to your partner the grace and forgiveness you would like your partner to offer you. Don’t close the door to forgiveness. Open the door for your partner to make amends when s/he messes up and practice the art of grace. It’s your best chance at moving forward and experiencing true intimacy.
CHALLENGE: Notice all the ways you unconsciously close the door to repair with your partner. Pay attention to the ways you hold grudges, make your partner pay--ad nauseum--for mistakes made, and make interpretations about your partner’s behaviors that just aren’t there.
Play with the concept of grace. Make a conscious effort to openly forgive three minor to moderate mistakes your partner makes when s/he truly show remorse for them. Notice the impact of this shift on both you and your relationship.