I believe that marriage is a series of opportunities to give grace to each other, over and over. The longer our marriage endures, the more I believe in it, despite my weariness with the circular quality of our issues. When the cycle comes around again to the more difficult bits, like landing on the “molasses swamp” in Candy Land, I try not to despair that we will be stuck there forever, and hope that we will pick the yellow card soon enough that allows us to get to the Candy Castle (can you tell I do a lot of play therapy with 5-year-olds?).
All commitment is circular — you create a closed loop with your promise to it, and then the hope is that though you don’t progress in a straight line, by going around the bend again and again you deepen. Recently my husband and I had some small disagreement and I was able to respond with kindness. “You are so patient with me”, he said, and I replied, “Well, every time I possibly can I try to give grace to you, because I know that in the next moment I will need it in return.” And sure enough, I did something ridiculous about an hour later and needed forgiveness myself.
It is nice when some stranger is gracious with you when you bump into them, or the rare time when a receptionist doesn’t shame you for being late to an appointment. But isn’t it so much more meaningful when someone who knows you to the core finds grace for you for the same stupid shit you’ve been doing for a decade? This is why I believe in marriage, and in long relationships in general — the opportunities for redemption, both big and small, are myriad. I can’t always take them — sometimes I’m just too tired, too hurt, too caught up in myself to find the mercy necessary for a loving interaction. But I get there, eventually. And being betrothed to him gives me that time — we’re not going anywhere, so by the time I come around he’ll be there, and we’ll meet somehow, in ways that continue to surprise me.