Don’t assign motives. That often involves taking yourself out of the equation.  A friend of ours told us her husband doesn’t remember things like he used to. ‘That’s a struggle with me because sometimes I confuse that with him not listening and paying attention to me, when that might not actually be the case.” Grace says I won’t make this about me or how you’re treating me. Grace says I won’t try to figure out why you said or did that. I will just consider you didn’t mean it the way it came across. Using the example of your tardy spouse, realize there may be a good reason they are late, and it’s not solely because they just don’t respect your time.

Be understanding. The easiest way to remember to extend grace is to realize you are capable of doing the very same things (or similar things) that you dislike in your spouse. For every five things that irritate me about Hugh, I’m sure there are at least ten things that I do that irritate him!   By being understanding and extending grace, you are hopefully putting on reserve a deposit in your spouse’s bank of understanding so when you are someday in the same situation, he or she will extend grace to you, as well.

If you remember nothing else throughout your marriage journey, remember this: Grace is the glue that holds the two of you together.

Hugh and Cindi McMenamin have served actively in ministry together for more than 20 years – he as a senior pastor and she as a pastor’s wife, national speaker and author of several books, including Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, Women on the Edge, and When a Woman Inspires Her Husband.  They recently co-authored When Couples Walk Together, on which this article is based.  Hugh and Cindi live in Southern California and have a grown daughter, Dana. For more on their ministry or for free resources to troubleshoot your marriage connection, see www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.