Grace and Acceptance in an Imperfect Marriage

Illustration of an upset husband driving the car while his wife directs him
Chris Sandlin

We pulled into the parking lot, and before I'd even turned into a lane, my wife, Jill, was telling me where I should park. I instantly felt like I was back in high school with my stepdad telling me what to do.

My blood pressure rose, and I reeled at the feeling of being parented. I wanted to yell, "I'm smart enough to figure out where to park. I do this many times a day without you!"

A marriage is made up of two imperfect people. And these two imperfect people have to figure out money, sex, parenting, chores — and where to park. They're destined to find all that imperfect togetherness challenging.

When we bump into imperfection — our own and our wife's — we often don't handle it well. However, we have some valuable tools available that most of us aren't using enough. Next time you find yourself bristling at your wife's imperfections, here are two approaches to try:

Grace.

When dealing with her annoying habits, you have an option to offer grace. As you think about your wife's actions or words, you can ask yourself a couple of questions: Does this hurt me or just irritate me? and Does this need to be corrected or simply accepted as part of being married to an imperfect person? (See James 2:12-13.)

Acceptance.

Loving your wife for who she is without trying to change or correct her is true acceptance. I've spent too much time trying to change my wife into who I wanted her to be. So I've started looking for the good in Jill ... even in the things that frustrate me.

I've learned that I am able to reframe my thinking by identifying the trait I don't like and what is good about it. This thought process brings perspective to my frustration and helps me think about that trait from a different angle.

Back in the parking lot, I kindly let Jill know I had the parking responsibility under control. I chose grace and acceptance as I reminded myself that her comments were not personal, that Jill was simply using her natural ability to be strategic and always think ahead — qualities I appreciate in other areas of our lives. My blood pressure returned to normal, I calmed down, and together we found a great parking spot.

A pastor for 20 years, Mark Savage co-authored No More Perfect Marriages with his wife, Jill.

Do you know of a marriage in crisis? Learn more about Focus on the Family’s marriage intensives by visiting HopeRestored.com.

This article first appeared in the April/May 2017 issue of Focus on the Family magazine and was originally titled "Parking Lots and Pet Peeves." If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family's marriage and parenting magazine. Get this publication delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.
© 2017 by Mark Savage. Used by permission.

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