This is the second part of our series about our experience in pre-marital counseling. We’ve learned that you need to plan for the marriage at least as much as you plan for the wedding, and in this series we will explore what that means.
In software and computer engineering there is an important concept called resiliency. This means that a system has the ability to tolerate faults, or errors, and continue running successfully. I think this is also a great goal for our marriages. We should plan, design, and build marriages to be able to withstand our faults and errors. Because those faults and errors will certainly come, our imperfect nature ensures it.
One of the biggest, but simplest, lessons we learned in the course of our counseling is that sin is at the heart of all conflicts we will have as a couple. We must adjust our thinking and relationship to accommodate this fact, or our marriage will be quite brittle. There are two things which directly lead to this kind of fault tolerance… confession and grace.
Confession is the start of building this sort of relationship. It is vital that we are open and honest with our spouses about everything, not only the everyday stuff but also about our shortcomings and failures. It won’t surprise them, I promise you. They already know you aren’t perfect.
This has played out for Lindsey and me in two keys ways. First, we both maintain a healthy prayer life in which we confess our sins to God. We pray both alone and together daily, and confession is a key part of that for both of us. Second, when there is conflict between us or one of us has sinned in a significant way, we confess it to each other and ask for forgiveness. While this was hard at first and will continue to be in many situations, we have also seen a lot of growth in our trust of each other as a result.
It is that growth that brings me to the next point. In this context, grace is the necessary response to confession. We are to show grace to others just as God has shown grace to us. When the response of the aggrieved spouse is rooted in grace we are truly ministering to each other in a way that points to the grace that Christ provides for those very same sins. For couples who take Ephesians 5 seriously, this is important stuff.
As you can see confession and grace in a marriage cooperate together to provide a firm and flexible foundation. It’s like the earthquake-proof buildings that have springs built into their foundations, when the earth beneath starts moving those springs provide critical flexibility to keep the building from collapsing. A marriage full of confession and grace has that same flexibility, and is more equipped to handle shocks and struggles.