The Marriage Sustains the Love

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, ““It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

The day Russ and I were married, we entered into a covenant which will be broken only by death.  We fervently meant it then, and we mean it now.

This isn’t to say it’s easy – it isn’t. Russ and I are incredibly different which makes life challenging, but also keeps it interesting.  Russ would probably add it makes life more fatiguing, which is also true, but being an idealist, I figure we’ll catch up on our sleep one day.

John Piper says this about the covenant of marriage,

If you are in a season right now where the flower is wilted, and you think the solution is to pull the plant up, that’s not the solution.  The ground of covenant, the ground of promise…that’s the ground where it can flourish.

As I wrote yesterday, good marriages require work.  Life grinds us down, and sin tears at our best intentions.  Every marriage should have a healthy dose of repentance and forgiveness, because try as we might, we will sin against one another.

I love this prayer of confession,

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Isn’t this the way it is?  We sin against God and the people we love  by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.  It’s tempting to leave sin unconfessed and unforgiven, but this allows a root of bitterness in our hearts which can only grow into an unhappy marriage.

Confess sin, cling to your covenant, love your husband more than you love yourself, and pray with him and for him.  Let your marriage sustain your love.

#721 – 730 giving thanks

Russ, who has faithfully loved me for so many years

the sure knowledge that our life together is a good gift

children, a blessing from the Lord

three days spent away from the frenzy of life to focus on one another

friends who opened their vacation home to us

the river, snow, sunshine

older children watching the younger ones

friends who helped make it possible

prayer, laughter, forgiveness

covenant

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

9 Comments

  1. Laura
    February 8, 2012

    Love the quote at the top. The prayer of forgiveness is very similar to the Confiteor that is said during the Penitential Rite at the beginning of Catholic mass—your Catholic roots show through sometimes my sister. I think that in general we forget to seek forgiveness for what we "fail to do". Marriage is work, but it is a true blessing to have a lifelong companion who loves you through good, bad, and frustrating times.

    Reply
  2. Hannah Tucker
    February 8, 2012

    Love this, love your faithful testimony, your representation of covenant. Thank you for speaking so openly.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 8, 2012

      Thank you, Hannah.

      Reply
  3. Sarah
    February 8, 2012

    I've always loved your perspective on parenting. I appreciate your perspective on marriage just as much…so thankful you are posting more about that area of your life. It encourages me in my marriage.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 8, 2012

      Sarah, I appreciate hearing that. Thank you.

      Reply
  4. Nicole
    February 9, 2012

    What advice do you have for couples who are dating of practical things they can do early on to establish a godly relationship?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 9, 2012

      Nicole, that is a really great question. Let me give it some thought.

      Reply
    2. @mkgivler
      February 11, 2012

      Nicole, I'm one of Lisa's older daughters. I don't have much advice to give, as I have only been married for a year and a half, but I do have this: Before my husband and I got married, we established a habit of reading the Bible and praying together every night. Most often this was over the phone, as we were rarely together around bedtime. It doesn't have to be a long process. Sometimes we only take five minutes. Usually we read a Psalm or a chapter…maybe less depending on how long the passage is, then spend a few minutes in prayer, but it has helped us always end our day on the right note.

      On Thursdays, we watch a sermon on marriage (Mark Driscoll is preaching a series on marriage – watch at marshillchurch.org) or read a chapter in a book on marriage (I highly recommend The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman)

      It's so easy to be loving at this stage in the relationship when it's all new and exciting, when you only see each other a couple hours a day (or less) and don't have to deal with each other's daily messes. I have found this habit, which we established shortly after our first date, to be invaluable.

      Reply
      1. Lisa Qualls
        February 11, 2012

        Mimi, thank you so much for giving such a good answer to Nicole's question. I would agree that reading the Word and praying together nightly is a huge benefit to a marriage. Dad holds me close and prays over me every night – it means more to me than just about anything else he does be a good husband.

        Reply

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