He threw her under the bus right in front us. We had been talking for a few minutes about trivial things and because we knew that they had really been struggling in their marriage a few months ago, we asked them how things were going with that.
Without thinking, the husband said, “Great, but…,” and he told us what had happened just a few minutes earlier when she had snapped at him disrespectfully for no apparent reason. We could tell by the look on her face that she was shocked and disappointed that he had chosen to respond that way when, if fact, their marriage had been much better in the previous few months. He saw it, too. He knew that he had hijacked a moment in which they could have celebrated and used it to publicly confess her sin.
He didn’t brush it off. He didn’t ignore what he had done and the pain that it had caused her. He didn’t just say something nice about their marriage and about her in hopes that it would trump what he had just said. Instead, he apologized. And then he admitted that he still struggled with focusing on the negative. Right in front of us, he asked for her forgiveness.
She didn’t blast him. She didn’t himhaw around with a response. And that was critical.
Instead, she smiled at him, reached out her hand and put it gently on his chest, and said, “Thanks. I forgive you.”
He smiled back with a look that said, “You are amazing.” Then they began talking about the victories they had experienced in their marriage recently. It was a great moment for them, and a great moment for us to witness. We knew without them even telling us that they were doing much better.
In a mature marriage, when conflict hits, you don’t get knocked down nearly as far; and you don’t stay down nearly as long.