Grace in Marriage
Updated: Jun 15, 2020
I was watching Mulan II this morning as I cooked breakfast, and this scene really struck me as symbolic of a statement spoken to me years ago - we are graced for one to whom we are married.
In Mulan II, the mission is to escort three princesses to their arranged weddings. On the way, each princess displays quirk that make her very unique. At the same time, the guards escorting the princesses confess their wish to find "a girl worth fighting for" but lamented the inability to do so because of their own unusual personalities and characteristics. When these individuals blend together on the cross-country trip - they discover first-hand that what makes them different, also makes them uniquely special. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder – and we are graced for the one to whom we give our heart.
It sounds simple in theory – the theory being,
“We are graced for the one to whom we are married,”
but is it really? And what does that mean exactly?
Being “graced for the one to whom we are married” means that our spouse has an almost supernatural ability to tolerate what might make someone else absolutely nuts. A characteristic in our loved one that may make someone else cringe, we can tolerate with a loving acceptance that can be utterly befuddling to those around us.
When we are graced for the one to whom we are married – it means that we love them unconditionally, not blindly. We see their faults and vices, their weaknesses and foils, and we love them anyway and work with them towards strength, refinement and growth. That grace is not just given away, it is also received. It means that our spouse sees us with clarity and compassion as well.
The depth of grace in marriage is found when we can both give, and receive, that unconditional acceptance and love. A stumbling block will occur if the avenue of the giving or receiving grace is blocked.
When we stop choosing to give grace to those with whom we live in close relationship, then those nuances of character that previously annoyed us on a minor scale may suddenly explode on the relationship scene with an explosive force that can bring destruction and chaos. Notice I said “choosing” to give grace. Giving grace in relationship is a choice – it is a conscious decision to accept differences and nuances with eyes of love. Loving eyes see the negative, see the annoyances, but choose to also see the glass as half-full versus half-empty. Loving, grace filled hearts see the grating and even unpleasant in our partner, but we do not allow those traits to outweigh the gift and blessing of the person as a whole. And when character traits fall out of alignment with the character of God, loving, grace filled hearts bring correction in love, versus rebuke and condemnation.
Just as giving grace is a choice, receiving grace is also a decision we make. Someone can bring you a gift, but it is up to you to receive that gift and open it, and once opened, to engage with that gift. The same applies with grace in relationship. When our spouse loves us despite, the negative characteristics or traits we may display, it is up to us to receive that love. Sometimes receiving grace is even more challenging that giving grace. Giving grace away is releasing unconditional love to another – pouring out comfort and care to the heart and soul of someone near and dear to us. But receiving grace, means we freely absorb love and care into our own heart, soul and spirit. When we inwardly see ourselves as unworthy or undeserving, it is so hard to receive the grace of love given freely from the one to whom we are married. Way too often, it is our own internal narrative that undermines the gift of grace within our relationships and lives.
Blocking grace that is given means that we continue to allow the soundtrack of our internal narrative to override the song of love pouring out from the heart of our partner. We focus on those traits and shortcomings that we deem unlovable versus relishing in the freely given unconditional love that allows our partner to see our shortcomings and love us anyway. When we look at ourselves, those traits that we long to change or correct (and they can be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual) shine bright and bold in the mirror of reflection, and because we see them overwhelmingly in the forefront of self-review, we assume others do as well. Because we choose to allow those traits to define our identity as unlovable or unworthy – we mistakenly believe those close to us must feel as we do. We foolishly believe that our partner sees us as we see ourselves and we push away the unconditional love and grace that is given because of our own self-reflection and misguided inner narrative.
If we want relationships to flourish, to blossom and grow – we must not only give grace, we must receive it as well. Being graced for the one to whom we are married means that as much as we love them and have grace for their negatives, we must also acknowledge that they, too, love us and have grace for our negatives as well.
When we reach that place of maturity and balance, where grace is given and received – then there is a safety and security in the relationship that is priceless and irreplaceable.That safe place is where we can really grow, both as an individual and as a couple.The princesses and guards in Mulan II displayed that life lesson and growth in a 90 minutes movie script. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could learn that life lesson just as quickly?