Ruth Bell Graham once said, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”
This gives us a glimpse into one of the strongest marriages of our time. Married over sixty years, Ruth and Billy Graham understood that anger is inevitable–it comes easy–but forgiveness comes with sacrifice.
One of the first fights I ever had with Michael came three years into our marriage. Can you believe that? Three years! I was pregnant with our first child, and my emotions were running wild on me. I remember sitting in the baby’s room folding little undershirts while tears streamed down my cheeks. The slam of the apartment door told me he was walking off steam.
I don’t even remember what we were fighting about, but I do remember that it hit me straight to the gut. I felt like I had just lost my best friend and that everything we built over the years collapsed in a matter of minutes.
After three years, this didn’t feel right to me–this anger thing. Two people in love are supposed to be… well… in love.
I didn’t feel that way. All I felt was anger and rejection. My guess is that he felt that way too.
After twenty five years, I’ve come to learn that anger is bound to happen. Anger is a natural part of being human, losing your cool on the other hand is giving in to temptation.
God instructs us to be self-controlled,
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: – Ephesians 4:26
This became the number one rule for us from the moment we said I do. We’d always resolved conflict before falling asleep. This worked for a while until about seven years into our marriage then Michael fell asleep. That fueled my anger all the more.
What I didn’t realize then was that this scripture had little to do with our time zone, and everything to do with calming my spirit so that I could be reconciled to him.
Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord. – Psalm 4:4-5
Forgiveness has to start in our own hearts before we can pour it out to another. Anger is natural, but letting it fester is a dangerous thing. It’s important to heal fractures in your relationship before they get out of control.
Matthew Henry writes, “Though anger may come into the bosom of a wise man, it rests only in the bosom of fools.”
You know that incredible feeling you get after you reconcile with your spouse? Michael and I are affectionate and we’re prone to joke around a bit more. The reason we feel that surge of excitement is because reconciliation is something to celebrate.
It reminds us that we’re still the same two people in love, and that nothing can come between us as long as we’re willing to fight for our marriage.
You are loved by an almighty God,