Those three words are what make a marriage tick. I may not have 60 years’ experience like both my sets of grandparents, nor do I have the 36 years’ experience my parents do, but in 11 years of marriage I can attest to the three words that make a marriage last. The world gets two of them right, but the middle one eludes the world. “I forgive you.” Any couple will say “I love you” uncountable times, as they should. But “I forgive you” reveals that the husband or wife values the marriage more than his or her ego. It requires a great deal of humility because it means that whatever I once had against you, I now forget. And when one forgives another, he promises that the matter is over.
St. Paul in Ephesians 5 explains that marriage is a reflection of Christ and the Church. Christ gave all of Himself in forgiving our sins, and all of the great blessings He gives to us are ours because our sins are forgiven. Luther taught this in his Small Catechism: “Where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.”
Mrs. Marie K. MacPherson of Mankato, MN wrote an article in October 2011 at The Hausvater Project about this, entitled “‘Return to Me'”: The Perfect Marriage Is Founded on Forgiveness in Christ”. Mrs. MacPherson shares the story of a wedding at which she was privileged to be a guest, where the husband was able to forgive the wife, and thereby save the marriage — even before the wedding took place. From her article:
As they reach around her growing belly to put rings on one another’s fingers, Christ-like love abounds. The trial this couple has already endured was certainly difficult, but it is also certain not to be the last. Yet, Christ’s example of His undying love for His church shines as an example for them—as for all spouses—to follow.
It’s a short read, and certainly well worth your time. Also, the rest of The Hausvater Project site contains lots of resources on various vocations in the home and in the world.