Our kitchen is a busy place so I try to make sure every night that the dishwasher gets started so we don’t get backlogged the next day. But if I go to bed before Joe, I’ll ask him to put the glass or dish he’s using in the dishwasher when he’s done and start it. I will even put the soap in so all he has to do is press start. He always will cheerfully say yes! Of course honey. Thanks babe! It’s a huge help!
Then the next morning I come down to the kitchen and go to empty the dishwasher and lo and behold, it’s dirty. Never got started. Ugh. Really??
In those moments I realize I have a choice in my response:
1. I am so inconvenienced here.
Let me remind him and myself how bad my day will be now that the dishwasher is still dirty. Joe clearly doesn’t get this. Does he not know how to press start? Is he so wrapped up in other things that he can’t do one simple task? Now my day is all off track and…. blah blah blah. Give Joe a real hard time, a real annoyed face and remind him that he’s basically a failure and will never be able to make me happy.
2. Ooops looks like Joe forgot.
It’s probably because he forgot. Guess I’ll have to start it now and go on with my day! Put on my grace face because really, in the big scheme of things, it doesn’t matter.
By choosing 1 over and over in a marriage, we will no longer feel grateful, we learn to focus on each other’s faults, and are always at the ready to tell our spouse what he did wrong. Then in turn we learn to be defensive about everything, and we don’t dare let our spouse point out any area where we can improve.
By choosing 2 more often in our marriage, Joe and I have cultivated a culture of grace. That if I make a mistake, Joe won’t be the first to jump down my throat. In fact then I now can mention a mistake like that to him the next day, and Joe is immediately remorseful for forgetting. Because he knows I’ll offer grace. Then he tells me how after I went to bed he noticed the toilet was acting funny and he got distracted so by the time he finished fixing the toilet he totally forgot about the dishwasher.
What grace looks like in our marriage is giving our spouse some slack.
Not holding him to such a high standard that he has no chance to succeed. It’s so easy to get on each other’s case about everything. We see more of their flaws. And their mistakes are likely to affect us more directly.
How many times has Joe messed up and I would be the first to tell him? Remind him with a siiiigh that this is going to cost me *this much* extra work? Yeah, I’ve done that! But when we let grace flow, then when Joe makes a mistake and inconveniences me- I am so much more inclined to say, “That’s okay, we’ll figure it out. I know you weren’t intentionally making trouble for me.”
Grace becomes contagious! Then when I mess up, what a great feeling that he will extend that same grace to me. It’s both of us acknowledging that we make mistakes. That neither of us have a monopoly on goodness or perfection. We both forget things, lose things, drop the ball.
Choosing to be kind and gracious to your spouse when it is “undeserved” is hard. You know what I mean, it almost feels ridiculous. But the definition of grace has to include the undeserved part. But that’s where grace is an example Christ’s kingdom being upside-down. The grace He extends to us leads us to douse our marriage in grace, daily.