It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace. Hebrews 13:9, NIV
One of my (David's) favorite movies is On Golden Pond, a wonderful story about love and commitment between an elderly couple, Norman and Ethel Thayer.
Norman is a crotchety man with a fairly cynical attitude. He tends to look on the negative side of things and is pretty bad at emotional intimacy. His stubborn pride keeps him from having an intimate relationship with his daughter, and his prideful self-reliance causes pain for the entire family. Ethel is sensitive, loving, and a great encourager. She is full of grace. It is Ethel's grace-filled manner that strengthens the marriage with Norman.
Watching them interact in the movie is often funny, sometimes painful. Norman's crusty persona is often a source of frustration for Ethel, but she keeps hanging in there with him. He tests her commitment frequently, yet Ethel never fails to meet the test.
I want to make sure that I am an "Ethel" in our marriage. I want to initiate. I want to go first to give grace to Teresa. I want to be sensitive and loving with my spouse. I want to hang in there even when Teresa is less than becoming. I want to confirm my commitment to Teresa frequently, even when she tests me.
I definitely don't want to be the "Norman" in our marriage. I don't want to be negative and crotchety. I also don't want my prideful self-reliance to keep me distant from the ones I love.
After all, God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble—and that includes my wife's husband.
What can you do daily to strengthen your marriage, even if your spouse is the "Norman" in the relationship?
God, help me to be gracious toward my spouse no matter how he or she acts. Remind me often of Your grace so that I may contribute to the strength of our marriage.
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