Contrary to romantic notions, love means never having to say you’re sorry — and marriage means you’ll probably say it a lot.
The year was 2004, and my husband and I were spending our first Valentine’s Day together as a married couple. Being completely unaware about these types of things, we neglected to make reservations for one of the restaurant industry’s busiest nights of the year. Whoops.
As we drove around town seeing packed parking lots and learning wait times were far too long, my husband became increasingly hungry and angry – yep, hangry. In a moment of complete exasperation my usually calm, patient, and accommodating husband declared: “If we don’t find someplace to eat NOW, we are going to Wendy’s!”
Well, of course, that was not going to do for this young bride of 6 months. Thankfully, the Lord intervened and landed us at a mom and pop Italian restaurant tucked away in a strip mall that wasn’t busy at all. We enjoyed a lovely meal, apologized and forgave one another for the spat that took place during our dinner search, and visited what became “our place” many times until we moved out of that state.
While that hidden gem has long since gone out of business, my husband and I have enjoyed many more Valentine’s Days together. Not all of them have been as picture perfect as a Hallmark greeting card, but they are all treasured memories because of the love that we have shared in good times and in bad. Love means never having to say I’m sorry did not work for us. A big part of our relationship has been learning to say “I’m sorry” – a lot. And forgiving one another even more. The forgiveness and grace we are able to offer each other does not come from our own strength. If that’s what I relied on, I might still be upset that my new husband wanted to take me to a fast food restaurant for our first Valentine’s Day! No, instead, our strength to apologize and forgive comes from the Lord.
I love the way Daniel 9:9 tells us that “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him” (NIV). And because of the forgiveness that I’m offered even when I oppose God, I am able to forgive my husband when we are in opposition, and he so graciously forgives me as well. The most famous line from Erich Segal’s novel Love Story, and the movie of the same name, is “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” I completely disagree. If we love someone, we should be willing to ask for forgiveness when we’ve done something wrong. Love means never having to say you’re sorry disregards forgiveness. And we should be willing to forgive as Colossians 3:13 says that we should …forgive as the Lord forgave us.
Forgiveness, both giving and receiving, is so important in a relationship. As the years pass by, I realize more and more what really matters in marriage. Perhaps next Valentine’s Day my husband and I will forgo the dress up and fancy dinner for a take out meal together at home, prayerfully with a little one seated in a highchair between us. There’s a Wendy’s right around the corner.