A diamond discovered in its natural, unrefined state is really nothing spectacular — only after hours of cutting and polishing does its true beauty begin to show. So it is in marriage. Those marriages that appear to be practically perfect in every way are most likely the result of years of cutting, polishing, learning from mistakes and improving day by day.
Mistakes are a part of every marriage. It's by learning from those mistakes that our marriages are cut and polished and become the priceless possessions they are intended to be. A prized marriage, just like a diamond, requires a significant amount of effort and polish to remove rough edges in order to arrive at the final product.
The beauty of mistakes
Mistakes remind us that we're a work in progress
None of us is perfect. We all recognize that, but that doesn't necessarily make it easy to accept our spouse's imperfections. I mean, should we really have to accept our spouse's imperfections? The answer is yes, and the key to doing this is to remember our own imperfections.
You, your spouse, and your marriage are a work in progress. You haven't reached the final product yet. Think about it this way, if you can be so madly in love with the unfinished masterpiece (despite the flaws), just think how wonderful the final product will be.
Mistakes give us the opportunity to forgive and forget
Because we're all a work in progress and make mistakes from time to time, there's plenty of opportunity to forgive and forget (I know it's a positive spin, I could sell ice to an Eskimo). But really, this can be a good thing. We wouldn't want anyone keeping a running tally of our faults, so don't do that to others — especially your spouse. Simply forgive and forget.
Closely related is developing the ability to give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Rather than jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst, try assuming the best. It will make a difference, I promise.
Mistakes teach us that you don't have to be perfect to love and be loved
You aren't perfect, but your spouse still loves you. They're not perfect, but you still love him. Despite the blemishes and flaws, we all have unlimited potential and are worthy of each other's love. Mistakes teach us that we don't have to be perfect to love and be loved.
The first step in learning from mistakes is learning to look forward, not backward. Don't dwell on the past — it won't do you any good. Instead, focus on the future. Remember the two words that will save your marriage, and say them often. If there's a disagreement and feelings are hurt, then apologize and move on.
An important aspect of looking forward, is not keeping score. If your spouse makes a mistake and you forgive them, that doesn't mean they owe you one. It also doesn't give you liberty to make a hurtful decision in retribution. If you're going to keep track of anything, let it be the good.
As an airplane flies through the air, it's susceptible to wind and other forms of weather. Because of this, planes rarely follow the exact course intended at onset. In fact, it's been estimated that on average, a plane is off course 95 percent of the time. To compensate, they are constantly course correcting.
Recognizing, and learning from mistakes, gives us the opportunity to course correct. Even though we may be susceptible to errors from time to time, we can compensate by course correcting throughout the journey. Just remember, even if you feel like you're off course 95 percent of the time, you can still make it to your intended destination — simply recognize your mistakes and correct them.
Remember the lessons of the past
The final step in learning from mistakes is to remember the lessons of the past. History doesn't have to repeat itself, and we don't have to find ourselves continually trapped in the same black hole. We may not overcome weaknesses immediately, but if we remember the lessons of the past we'll improve at a much more rapid pace.
A diamond takes time to form and so does a lasting marriage. A diamond doesn't start out perfect, but rather becomes perfect over time. It will also take time, patience and commitment for your marriage to grow into its full potential. But keep with it, and you'll find the priceless gem will be well worth it.
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.