by Ashton Cude

During my college years, much of my time was spent in student ministry. One of the ministry teams I was a part of adopted a mantra: “Believe the best, forgive the rest.” That concept has stuck with me ever since, and it has a powerful effect in all interpersonal relationships. Today, I’m talking about how believing the best of one another can impact your marriage. 

What does the mantra “believe the best, forgive the rest” really mean in the context of marriage? It means that no matter the circumstances, you commit to believing the best of your spouse. It also means that even if they fail to give their best, you will forgive their shortcomings and go right on believing the best of them. The good news about this motto is that it creates a cycle of love and trust in your relationship. Isn’t that better than the cycle of conflict and distrust we often see surface when we’re not loving each other well? It’s also good news because it works both ways. If your commit to living this way in your marriage, it means your spouse will believe the best of you and readily forgive your shortcomings as well. Living this out is not our natural inclination; it takes commitment and intentionality. Our human hearts instinctively want to play the blame game and find flaws in one another. Fighting that urge continually will soften your heart toward your spouse and create a culture of grace in your home.

So, what does this look like practically? Here’s an example: Say your spouse is being snippy with you. For most of us, our natural reaction would be to match their attitude with our own snippy-ness. Internally, we would be thinking about what a jerk they are and how we don’t deserve their mistreatment. But if we take a step back and decide to believe the best of them, our reaction is different. We know they would never hurt us intentionally, so there must be a reason for their actions. The goal then becomes loving them in the midst of whatever has made them act this way. Maybe they had a difficult day at work. Maybe they got bad family news but aren’t ready to talk about it. Maybe they’re just having one of those days. Responding to them in love will help break down their walls and win their heart again and again. That is the best picture of Jesus we can offer our spouse. He sees us not as we are, but as He intends us to be. He has endless grace for us and forgives us willingly and endlessly. What a sweet picture of the Gospel for marriage to reflect!

Commit to adopting this mantra for your own marriage and you will be amazed at the beautiful fruit it will produce. It’s one of those concepts that seems so simple but is so challenging and sanctifying in practice. And remember, if you’re going to believe the best of your spouse, don’t keep it to yourself! Speak life into your spouse by sharing with them the good things you see in them. A strong marriage is a port in the storm not only for your spouse, but for your family and community. Here’s to believing the best of one another and walking in grace!