Commitment, Communication

A Red Cup Lesson in Grace

Ever got into an argument with your spouse about a good decision?

Post said decision, both of you come to the realization that you were both right in your motivation and approach, but you ended up butting heads anyways.

What do you do?

These less obvious frustrations arise in our marriage take on many shapes and forms. If ignored, they can easily take root in our hearts and leave both parties feeling unjustly threatened by the other.Lasting marriage requires hard work but few tasks reap a finer reward.

Fighting fiercely for our spouse and our marriage means taking inventory of any bitterness or anger taking root in your heart or mind and dealing with it, quickly and in a Godly way. (Hebrews 12:15 ESV)

I’d like to share a snapshot of last Sunday in the Frederick household where Ryan and I dealt with such an incident.

November 1 = Red Cup Arrival

Having spent the last 5 years in southern California, I have been absorbing every ounce of fall in the Pacific Northwest as possible.

Who can resist the brightly colored leaves, the chill in the air, and of course (one of my favorites) red cups at Starbucks.

We were heading into Aberdeen, WA for church Sunday and I was excited to get a coffee at Starbucks; mostly for the red cups (let’s just be honest).

After church, we grabbed our “coffee” which I of course, had to have the eggnog latte as it is was finally available! Ryan, surprisingly, decided not to get anything.

The Debacle

After paying for the drink, I’m walking away smiling, stars in my eyes (ok, maybe a little exaggeration there) and he looks at the receipt and says, “$4 for a drink?! That is ridiculous!”Your spouse is a gift you never stop unwrapping.

My holiday cheer and twinkly eyes quickly fade into some angry thoughts of Are you really saying this right now? Right as I am about to enjoy my delicious drink that I’ve been waiting ALL year for! (I know, first world problems much? Sigh.)

We continued the drive home, Ryan sensing my frustration; me of course, not hiding it.

“Did you look at the price when you ordered?” Ryan asked. “Yes. But it’s not like I get these all the time. (Yes, there was sass in that tone). It’s a treat! I was looking forward to this and it’s cold, and fall is here, the red cups are here, eggnog lattes are here” and on I go justifying this delicious blessing.

If you could read our thoughts, Ryan’s would have said, This is not being a very good steward of our finances. I can eat lunch for $4. 

Mine on the other hand were more along the lines of, This is a treat for us to experience and enjoy just being together. We have worked hard, this is definitely NOT my normal drink, but it’s a treat and a blessing!

Ultimately I didn’t think that God would be very upset that I got a $4 drink (please no hate mail yet!). I thought He would be ok with me enjoying His tasty creation.

Clash of the Titans. Well…almost.

Ryan wanted to be a good steward while I wanted to enjoy, and be thankful, for this blessing. His conviction and my seemingly innocent motivation almost became the clash of the titans…almost.

Prior to declaring an all out war, I decided to take the humble route on this one. We took turns talking (not yelling) and listening without interrupting each other, which resulted in something new we learned about each other.

Side note: Having been together for 11 years (married, plus 4 years dating), we are still in awe of how the Lord continues to teach and reveal new aspects of each other.Marriage is less about perfection and more about perseverance.

What I learned

One of the many admirable and respectful traits that I love and adore about my husband is that he earnestly desires to fulfill God’s will in every single area of our lives. Through how we raise our daughter, his work ethic and of course, our finances.

Ryan wants nothing less than to please and honor God with every ounce of his life. His devotion to God is fierce and I thank God for this daily.

Was it easy to be humble and say, “Thank you for ruining my short moment of coffee bliss because you felt convicted”?

Not in the slightest.

As his wife, I was only able to learn and understand him because I took the path of humility, which in marriage is often the path less travelled.

I learned he wasn’t being cheap, he was simply trying to be a good steward.

Yes, I could’ve gotten mad and allowed all hell to break loose in the car on the drive home over how I’m pretty sure God wouldn’t be upset that I got a $4 drink.

Instead I decided to take a step back and hear what Ryan was really communicating.

Extending Grace

Until we have experienced the grace and love of Christ, we can’t expect to extend that same grace and love to others, especially our spouse.

It’s His love, and His love only, that is able to transform hearts and to clean out the wells of our souls.

Only when we run to him; when we commit and devote each day to him by taking time to sit at his feet can we truly begin to understand how to love another human being and extend grace and love that is continually being extended to us.

When the red cup debacle came to an end, and both of us had learned something new about each other, it was as if God was highlighting a new side of us to each other.I married my best friend.

What began as a challenge, turned into a blessing because grace was extended by both of us, resulting in our thankfulness for each other.

We are not perfect by any means, please know this.

Ryan was trying to live for God the best way he knew how in that moment and I could not have seen this in him if I had chose the path of pride and anger instead of humility and grace.

A man after the heart of God is what I’d always wanted and prayed for in my husband. How could I become angry when that man showed up?

Question: Has there been a time in your marriage that you chose the humble route and God taught you something about you, your spouse, or your marriage?

(Photos by Jeff Marsh)


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  • Tammy

    Thank you for sharing this. Truly, I’ve been dealing with similar things lately. My husband of 10 years (one year dating prior to marriage) is also a saver and a good steward and diligent about us living in our means. Crucial with three children, one income, and private school tuition payments. (only other payment is our house-a testimony to his leadership)
    We’ve had one of our daughters in counseling for behavior and though it’s been helpful, I’ve been defensive when he asks how many sessions we’ve had. “How many have you had?” “How many did we plan for?”
    I had to calm down as I’ve been defensive every time, knowing she’s not “cured” and needs more sessions, but when I was able to listen to him, (yesterday), he simply said he was concerned that we needed to budget for more sessions before committing to them out of obligation to a weekly schedule.
    My decision making is a bit more emotional (I have a monthly $12 coffee budget so I can enjoy 3 “special” drinks a month without guilt) than his. He really has helped us live within our means and it is wonderful not to live paycheck to paycheck with creditors breathing down our necks!
    Once we both were able to share our sides, he was able to hear my concern that he didn’t think it was making enough of a difference to continue, and I heard his that he wants to be sure we can afford it before going to more.

    Thank you for sharing, I am sure that more people will benefit from this than you’ll ever realize.

    • Selena Frederick

      Thank you for sharing! I’m amazed at how many times I assume my husband is more concerned about things that haven’t even crossed his mind. This is really great, thank you for sharing!

  • L L

    This One Is Good. I Will Definitely Be Looking For My Opportunities To Take That Route A Bit More Diligently. Thanks For Sharing!

    • Selena Frederick

      Thanks for reading =)

  • Nice post. Just a question though…you said you both learned something about one another during it all. What did Ryan learn about you? xoxo

  • Jaclyn

    At three months of marriage and only a year of knowing each other this article has already struck home plenty of times. Mostly because my husband is desperately trying to steward our finances well as I enjoy a “treat” every now and then. But for a prideful woman the humble route is so much harder and often my initial reaction. However, the fruit humility bears is far more worth it! My husband feels so much more loved and respected when I listen to his point of view and talk through our differences with him.


    Thanks for sharing!!!!!