So, last month I made a big blunder in my relationship with my wife. Actually, make that two big blunders. I'm not talking the "Oops, I stepped on your toes, I'll be more careful next time." No, these were full-sized anthills that I kicked up.
Although I would rather have the blunders back, the experience taught me a lot about the relationship between forgiveness, healing, and trust.
Did my wife forgive me? I would say yes, almost immediately. Does that mean that everything immediately went back to the way things were before my blunders? Absolutely not. Does that mean that she didn't forgive me? Of course not. Forgiveness was granted, but trust and healing take time. It doesn't mean that forgiveness isn't there. It just takes time to rebuild things.
Another way to look at it is to compare it to physical therapy. Many years ago, I had the pleasure of a type three ankle sprain (swollen on both sides). It was caused by a very quick collision, which was not on purpose. But the fact that it was not on purpose did not take the pain away, nor did it immediately heal my ankle. I went to physical therapy every week for a month to work through the pain and regain mobility. I was also given exercises to do every night to help with the healing and recovery.
After working through the pain and the exercises and the struggles, my ankle was stronger than it was before it was injured.
I think the same can be true for our marriages. Sometimes they can become stronger because of the pain and struggles. Not that we should seek out painful experiences for ourselves (or, heaven forbid, for our spouse). But these type of experiences will inevitably come as part of the experience of living in mortality. As long as they are there, should we not use them to build ourselves and our marriages, to make them stronger than they were before?