Husband & Wife Articles


 

Mercy in Marriage

Three simple steps for spouses

by Jessica Weinberger

In our short six months of marriage, my husband and I can’t even count the amount of times we’ve already said “I’m sorry.”

We’ve each apologized for the little things – forgetting an item on the grocery list or arriving late for a dinner outing – and we’ve also apologized for transgressions that have caused more lasting wounds. As difficult as it is to stifle our pride and apologize, hearing a reply with the words “I forgive you” lifts the weight of hurt and disappointment.

Advice from seasoned married couples usually centers on never going to bed angry or learning to make “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” a part of your regular vocabulary, and I can see why. When we receive forgiveness from our spouse, we feel healed. Forgiveness is a gift that prepares us to do better and be better for the sake of the other. The strongest marriages overflow with mercy and forgiveness.

We all need mercy in our lives – both from God and from our spouse. We can look to the cross as the greatest example of mercy, where Jesus gave of himself for each of us. We don’t deserve his sacrifice, yet out of love, he forgave his betrayers and continues to offer forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This level of unconditional love underlies the Sacrament of Marriage where within a covenantal relationship, we die to ourselves every day for our spouse.

It’s because of this love that we can and do forgive. And because we forgive, we can truly love.

At the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday this past weekend, Pope Francis officially announced the Holy Year of Mercy, set to begin this December. What a fitting announcement for Divine Mercy Sunday, where we look to the writings of St. Faustina Kowalska, whose reflections focus on God’s mercy, the need for conversion and the call to trust in Jesus. These themes carry strong parallels with our recent Lenten journey toward the resurrection of Easter, and challenge all of us, especially married couples, to show mercy and forgiveness in everyday life.

We need forgiveness in all areas of our lives, and especially marriage, where hurt, anger and resentment can quietly build. When we harbor anger and resentment in our marriages, we break the intimate relationship of husband and wife and prevent ourselves from experiencing the freedom that comes from grace and a merciful heart.

To demonstrate the healing power of forgiveness to our broken world, we can start at home by:

Showing mercy. St. Francis of Assisi was right when he said that we should preach the Gospel and use words only when necessary. Use small acts of kindness to live out your marriage vows. Even small actions like doing an extra load or laundry or leaving a heartfelt apology note for your spouse can help convey mercy when you hit a bump in the road.

Speaking mercy. Words have the power to build up or break down. Choose words of comfort, support and love when interacting with your spouse. When tensions run high, curb the temptation to win a verbal battle. Instead, lace your words with the understanding and forgiveness you would hope to hear if the roles were reversed.

Praying for mercy. To truly forgive those we love the most, we need God’s intervention. Pray for a merciful heart that is open to showing forgiveness to your spouse and the world around you. Pray for the openness to receive absolution through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to let that peace flow through your marriage.

Pope Francis says that love and forgiveness are simultaneous. To live out our marriage vows, we must both love and forgive our spouse and extend that mercy to the weakest among us. As Jesus loved and forgave, we, too, must follow his teaching and love and forgive, always.

Jessica Weinberger is a marketing professional and freelance writer. She regularly contributes to The CatholicMatch Institute blog and the Couple to Couple League magazine Family Foundations. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn. with her husband, George. Her website is Jessicaweinberger.com.