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Thursday, December 11, 2014

How 3 Words & 1 Contraction Will Save Your Marriage

A few weeks one of my newsletter subscribers emailed me. She thanked me for an email that I had recently sent out and then asked a question that made me think.

Her question was simple: "have you discussed the importance of saying 'I'm sorry'?"

You know what, I don't think I have. At least not in a very long time.

I heard a story this last week in church. There were two brothers that owned adjoining farms. They lived next to each other for many years and were great friends.

One day a dispute arose between the two of them. It grew and grew and was blown out of proportion such that the two brothers stopped speaking to one another.

A short time later, after the conflict had deteriorated further, the younger brother took his tractor and dug a large ditch along the property line and diverted water from a nearby stream into the ditch.

The older brother, not wanting to be outdone, hired a carpenter to build a tall fence along the ditch so that he didn't even have to see his younger brother anymore.

When the carpenter arrived the older brother instructed him on what he wanted done and showed him where the lumber for the fence was being stored.

The older brother asked the carpenter if he understood what he wanted and asked if he had any questions. The carpenter smiled and replied that he knew exactly what needed to be done. The older brother then went into town for the day to take care of some business.

When the older brother returned home that evening the carpenter was just finishing up. But to his surprise instead of a fence the carpenter had built a bridge across the ditch. The brother was outraged!

Just as he was about to give the carpenter a severe tongue lashing out of the corner of his eye he saw a man crossing the bridge. It was his younger brother!

The younger brother ran to him and, with tears in his eyes, threw his arms around his older brother.

As they embraced the younger brother apologized for his behavior and for letting such a small disagreement grow into what it had. He then thanked his older brother for being more wise than he and building a bridge to say he was sorry.

The carpenter simply smiled as he walked away.

The reason I share this story is that someone has to start everything. Everything starts with one person making a decision and acting on it. Asking for forgiveness is the same.

The younger brother apologized for his behavior. He thought that the older brother had apologized for his actions too. One apology (though unintended) precipitated the reconciliation between the two.

So who should apologize first? Cami and I have had our fair share of disagreements. Typically I'm pretty sure that I'm right. Generally she is. But in the heat of the moment neither one of us wants to lose.

Three years into our marriage we had a pretty big disagreement. I wouldn't really call it a fight because we have several rules in place in our marriage that, when followed, prevent us from getting into fights. Nevertheless, it was a good disagreement. I don't recall what it was about but I do remember that Cami abruptly left the house visibly upset.

It took me a few minutes to realize that she'd left (I was in another room) but when I did I chased after her! At first I was even angrier that she would walk away. Almost immediately, however, the thought crossed my mind "what if she never comes back?!" I tripled my pace.

Thankfully she hadn't gone far. In the mere five minutes that had passed from when she walked out the front door I was completely repentant. As soon as I saw her I threw my arms around her and, with man tears in my eyes, began frantically apologizing. And I meant it.

All it took was the thought that it could all be over in an instant, that I could drive away the woman I love more than myself. I have been far quicker to say three little words ever since. They are "I am sorry" (sometimes I like to switch things up and I'll say "I'm sorry" too).

While it's often very difficult for us to swallow our pride, and this is true for both husbands and for wives, it is absolutely essential.

One last thought on this. Ultimately it doesn't matter if you are right or wrong if the disagreement ends your marriage. If that happens I guarantee you were wrong regardless of the issue you had argued about.

My advice: Say you're sorry. Don't hesitate. Say it often and say it sincerely. Those three words, "I am sorry," or, if you're feeling adventurous as I often am, that contraction, "I'm sorry," will save your marriage.

Give it a try today.


  1. Agreed! It's hard to swallow pride but it's a small price to pay to maintain such a critical relationship!

  2. What a great post!

    Thanks for joining the Link Up this week!

  3. Great post on being sorry. The time I have wasted trying to be right instead of sorry. this is an convicting post.

  4. This is so true! I feel very blessed, in the fact that my hubby and I don't have too many disagreements...after almost 28 years of marriage!! But, when we do, we keep them short-lived and apologize when words were spoken in anger. This is rare, though. Having a mutual respect for each other's thoughts and opinions is so important. Thanks for sharing!


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