Several Sundays ago, my wife locked our keys in the car.. in the ignition.. still running. We didn’t realize it until about two hours later, as we were leaving church to head to lunch.
Feeling slightly embarrassed, we laughed it off and were able to wait with some friends in their car. We ate take-out, caught up, and waited for the locksmith arrived about 30 minutes later.
But when he pulled in, I got nervous.
As if the idea of a stranger breaking into our car wasn’t enough of a concern, when I caught a glimpse of him, my stress level rose.
As he pulled into the parking lot, I could have sworn he was still in high school. He was disheveled, giving his best attempt at a beard, and dressed in an over-sized t-shirt and shorts on a relatively cold day. Trash fell out of his car as he opened his door to greet me.
“I just need you to sign this form which says I’m not liable if any damage is done to the car. After that, I’ll give it a go,” he said.
I stood there, even more visibly nervous than I was before.
“Oh, uh.. would you mind walking me through your process quickly?” I asked.
“We have an air bag system to pry open the door and access the lock. But if that doesn’t work, I’ll just throw a brick through the windshield,” he said, in a playful, but no less unsettling, tone.
I signed the form, and he went to work. And after about 30 seconds, we were able to get into our undamaged car and turn off the ignition. Our locksmith went back to his car to finish his paperwork as I stood there, with my wife, reflecting on the entire situation.
I was grateful we hadn’t fought.
Because the reality is so many couples get into fruitless fights because of situations like this. Can’t you just hear it? “If you would have just been paying attention, we never would have had to call a locksmith. What were you thinking?!”
But my wife and I have a motto for our marriage that has saved us from a lot of these types of fights. It’s a simple phrase I want to share and encourage you to use in your own relationship. We call it grace over guilt.
What this means is when one of us messes up, the other seeks to offer grace, not guilt.
We’ve found guilt does little in making a situation better.
In fact, it often takes an event or mistake that’s not a big deal and turns it into a big deal.
But grace does the opposite. In situations like locking your keys in the car, it makes for a fun opportunity to hang with friends, allows you to learn how to break into your own car, enables you to have a great rest of the day, and affirms that you and your spouse are on the same team. Guilt deflates connection, grace empowers it.
While I hope neither one of us locks our keys in the car again anytime soon, we’d be up for an adventure like that again.
Offering grace over guilt, of course.
Do you have a marriage motto that you love? We want to hear about it! Comment below or shoot us an email with the subject line “My marriage motto.”