Offering Grace to an Undeserving Spouse

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here I was, sitting on our bed, having just torn into Adam to a degree that I am now thoroughly embarrassed by. I completely lost it. The two of us sat there as I gave a proud and half-hearted apology. This was not an apology worth accepting. I completely deserved for Adam to lash into me. I completely deserved for him to push me away. Instead, he calmly listened to me and accepted that ridiculous half-hearted apology. He then took me in his arms and hugged me and told me he loved me. I absolutely melted. In an instant, that pride I was holding so tightly to melted away. I went from a cactus to a puddle.

Grace. Is there anything sweeter?

What is grace?

Simply put, grace is unmerited favor. It’s being treated well when you least deserve it. And it’s an important building block in a strong marriage.

Ultimately, grace isn’t something to be asked for, but rather something to be freely given out of a sincere love for someone.

How do we give grace?

True love is giving your spouse grace when they least deserve it. We all will royally mess up in our marriages and how we treat our spouse.

“True love is giving your spouse grace when they least deserve it.”

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Giving your spouse the grace they don’t deserve when they need it the most helps these mess-ups strengthen your marriage rather than creating resentment and weakening it.

The Bible tells us, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6).

Grace brings trust and deep levels of connection. Even though Adam and I fought and even though I flew completely off the handle, I know our marriage grew from that moment because of the olive branch of grace that Adam offered.

Embrace humility

Adam had every right to prove his point and tear into where I was wrong. But he didn’t. He chose to offer grace instead, listening to where I was upset and apologizing for the small part that was his. He put his right to be right aside and focused on me and my needs. His ability to do that completely got rid of the fire. My prickliness and pride went away in an instant. In marriage, we have the ability to put out the fires of pride if we embrace humility.

James tells us that, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6).

Be thankful…and don’t forget

Remember and be thankful for those moments that your spouse gives you grace when you least deserve it. Don’t take them for granted. Those are moments to be celebrated because it means that your spouse is fighting for you and your marriage. Your spouse is putting their pride in check and focusing on what actually matters. Bring that memory back the next time that you’re upset with them. As we make an effort to remember the times our spouse has put our needs above theirs, we can more freely and easily give grace when they need it most.

Think before you act

Offering grace can be difficult when we feel unfairly treated by our spouse. When you feel unfairly treated, take a minute to slow down and think through your actions. The Bible calls us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). And it’s better that way. Much better than reacting in a way we must apologize for later.

Look to the Ultimate Example

If you ever have question about what grace looks like, simply look to the character of Jesus, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14) to give us the ultimate gift of His life, sacrificed for us so that we would be free from the consequences of our sin. If He can love us that much, and if we are to walk in the same loving way (Ephesians 5:1-2), then it’s clear that we are called to love everyone whether or not they deserve it. How much more should this apply to our spouses?

Choose to respond rather than react

Next time you are in an argument with your spouse, look for ways you can offer them grace. Seek to serve your spouse within their needs, whether or not they deserve it. It’s much better than getting angry and holding tightly to pride. Marriages thrive when there is a constant overflow of grace.

“Marriages thrive when there is a constant overflow of grace.”

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It’s not about being perfect

We all sin and we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). That’s okay. That we fail is much less important than what we choose to do about it. It’s important to not only accept the responsibility for what we choose but also to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Being called to live up to the ultimate example of Jesus’s grace is a big task, but every step closer fills us with more love and every step brings strength and depth to our marriages. Thankfully, when we mess up, His grace is still given freely to us (Romans 3:24).

Do you have a story of your spouse offering you grace? Share with us in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

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adam & Jess

Hi, we’re Adam & Jess--we’re so glad you’re here!

Our marriage got off to a rocky start in 2014 and quickly escalated into a full-out crisis. God healed us, and now we're inviting you to walk with us as we all journey toward healthier marriages together!

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