Admit it. You’ve aimlessly wandered along the corridors of Facebook, only to mindlessly binge-watch blooper videos. Okay, maybe that's just me. It’s sadistically delightful to see someone more clumsy than you are. Recently, I sniggered my way through one of those #epicweddingfails videos. You know, the clip where a bridesmaid falls into a lake as she heroically lunges for the bridal bouquet. Or when the groom faints just as he’s about to deliver the heartfelt vows that he stressed over for seven hours.
But despite the videos, the truth is that we’re not failing at weddings. Quite the opposite. We’re doing extravagantly well at weddings. We aren’t, however, doing such a swell job of our marriages.
According to recent stats, India has the lowest rate of divorce in the world. Yes, that data contradicts my point, but we all know that behind those rosy-hued numbers, the stories of heartache are more telling.
I haven’t conjured up a magic formula to fix marriages. If I did, I would be marketing it and gazing at the sunset from my private Caribbean island.
But from fourteen years of being a wife, I believe there are three important words that can help heal those hairline cracks that appear in any marriage. Those three words – and, no, they aren’t “I love you” – humble us, give egos a holiday, and can be the wrinkle cream that smooths our relationships.
The three words I’m referring to? I am sorry.
A simple phrase that is often overlooked and underused.
James 5:16 reminds us to “Confess [our] sins to each other and pray for each other so that [we] may be healed.”
I love the idea that healing comes from confessing and praying for each other. Confessing our mistakes in genuine apology might just be the healing balm our marriages require.
Sure, often times we do spit out an “I’m sorry” after those marital spats (read: volcanic eruptions). But sometimes our confessions sound like Jet Airways explaining away their cancellations.
I’m sorry, but you …
I’m sorry, but the kids …
I’m sorry, but I had …
Fine, I'll apologise again! I'm sorry...
Unfortunately, those are not relationship-restoring apologies but merely dressed-up excuses. Only when we let go of our need to be right and perfect and invulnerable do we have the chance to let that wound scab over. When we truly apologise from our hearts we are saying, “I take responsibility for this. This is on me. And it’s not right. Our relationship is more important than my being right.”
No, I don’t propose that we unthinkingly play doormats in every argument. That would be unhealthy, perhaps even dangerous. But Scripture points out that as far as it depends on us, to live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)
When things have cooled off long enough to realise that we played a rather active role in a disagreement, let’s choose to say, “I am sorry.” We don’t say it to be the “bigger person” but because we are broken and we mess up and we do better when we leave our egos at the door and because God commands it. 1 Peter 4:8 urges us to “love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
That ‘love’ is a verb, a doing word – not a fuzzy feeling. It looks like stretching ourselves to be patient and kind. It looks like taking a really deep breath when you want to snap back. It looks like throwing away the “You did this wrong three months ago” record. It looks like simply saying an earnest, “I am sorry.”