Dave and I got the privilege of visiting Venice, Italy. After arriving in the old part of Venice via a bus, we made our way over the Grand Canal to our hotel. Hungry, we asked the concierge for a restaurant recommendation. Instead of just telling us which direction to go, she grabbed a map (written in Italian) and highlighted a couple of streets off the Grand Canal with restaurants she loved. Off we headed on this new adventure.
Wandering through the maze of streets and canals, occasionally finding a street sign that matched the map, we headed in what we thought was the correct direction. A few bridges and canals later, we felt lost.
It looked like we were in an industrial area, which didn’t feel like the concierge’s description.
“I have no idea. Let’s turn around. Did we go to the correct street?”
Sometimes, we believe we’re headed the right way, but we’re not.
We read the map, study the compass, and follow the GPS signal, only to discover we entered incorrect coordinates. At this point, we have a choice. Will we continue stubbornly in the current direction, believing everything will turn out right? We may see a side street that we hope will return us to our desired path. Or do we admit the mistake, turn around, retrace our steps, and start over?
We can mess up the path in relationships, too. What do you do when that happens?
1. Admit your mistake.
Why do we struggle to admit mistakes? We may feel like mistakes diminish us. But do they? What if we choose to learn from each mistake instead of bristling at it?
Marriages struggle from time to time. It’s part of learning to live together in a healthy way. Sometimes those mistakes cause pain to your spouse or to you. A break in the relationship occurs. This is the point where we can pivot or continue stubbornly. Perhaps the most valuable words in a marriage are “I was wrong. Please forgive me.”
Those words unlock potential for forgiveness and healing between the two of you. What you do next shows your true heart and motives.
2. Change direction.
You can ask for forgiveness, but if you continue in the same behavior, you might not yet fully understand your error. Mistakes happen. But you don’t need to repeat them. Instead, change your behavioral direction. Not sure how to do that? Get some help. Be humble enough to ask someone to help you overcome that deeply ingrained habit.
Have you betrayed your spouse financially, emotionally, mentally, or sexually? True repentance requires you to change direction and choose a different way. Unchecked infidelity will eventually destroy your relationship.
It doesn’t have to, but it’s up to you. A true change of direction shows your spouse you recognize what you’ve done, want to heal the relationship, and will choose to live differently from this time forward. Will you do it perfectly? No. No one does. We simply learn from the past. But the key is to change direction.
3. Find ways to heal.
Depending on the severity of the wound or issue between you and your spouse, you might need professional help to overcome it. If that’s the case, please get it. Wise people listen to others and learn from their mistakes. Foolish people continue the same behavior, thinking something will change.
Take responsibility for your actions. Admit your part in the conflict. You chose the wrong direction, but you don’t have to continue that way. Your marriage relationship can heal if both parties choose to work toward reconciliation and a healthier way to do life together.
Eventually, Dave and I found our way to one of the concierge’s recommendations.
We sat along the canal and guzzled water, thankful for the table’s umbrella and cool breezes coming off the canal. After some bruschetta and pizza with ricotta and spinach, we explored more before heading back to our hotel for a nap.
Where does your relationship need to change direction? If you need help moving forward, please reach out. You aren’t stuck unless you choose to be.