Have you ever noticed the uncanny ability your spouse has to spot all the unholy aspects of who you are?
Before I was married, God said, "Mike, you have some rough edges. To help you become more Christ-like, I'm giving you Karen. That should do the trick."
So he brought Karen, whom I love dearly, into my life to identify all my shortcomings. My first response when she points out my flaws? Not gratitude!
I don't want to acknowledge that there may possibly be ugly things within me, so instead I strike back: "How dare you point out those things? What's your problem?"
Then I have the choice of either denying my failings or owning them and maturing. And Karen can either harbor anger and resentment or offer grace and forgiveness.
Imagine a marriage filled with grace. A spouse who extends joy, pleasure, sweetness, kind speech, unmerited favor.
My wife does that. I'm still working on it. Most of the time I don't deserve mercy. And yet, Karen can look at me with love and extend unmerited favor. I don't deserve grace for the times I mess up again, or leave a cup in the sink one more time.
But she chooses to clean up the sink and put the cup in the dishwasher and never say a word. That's grace.
Why do we extend grace—especially over and over—to our spouse?
First, because God is a God of grace; he freely extends it to us, and "it is by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:8).
Second, because it's a healing and restorative force. As God extends his grace to us and as we in turn extend grace to our spouses, we become better friends and lovers and can even experience deep and renewed levels of trust.