By: Jennifer Murray

Covenant Relationship

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Although I had the greatest intentions to sit down and hash out a much overdue Keepin’ It Real Rewinds post, I’d like to share something that’s been on my heart the past couple of days.  Now let me warn you things that come out of my heart and onto the computer screen are not always communicated in the clearest fashion, so just hear me out for a few paragraphs as I dive into a very sensitive topic.

Lately I can hardly turn the corner without be asked to discuss the marriage of a well known reality mother.  While I have no intentions of blogging about their personal decisions, speculating their failures, or discussing the unknown details surrounding the destruction of a fellow family of multiples (whom I’ve never met), it has led to very thought provoking conversations on marriage and children.  And it has caused my heart to be heavy, not only for this particular family, but for those who are facing or who have faced the ugly scars of divorce.

No one walks down the aisle, adorned like a princess thinking, “I really hope this ends in divorce”. 

No one fathoms as they hold their swaddled newborn baby for the first time, “I wonder if I’ll have partial custody?” 

Of course not, but somewhere after the size 0-3 onesies have been boxed up (or perhaps before), marriage enters its own test of “reality”.  A reality that includes strains on communication, intimacy, attention, and time. 

Brad and I dated for 6 years (high school sweethearts) {insert awwwwws} before we wed.  We were the best of friends, we had spent an enormous amount of time together as a couple, we had completed counseling with our pastor, as well as prepared for marriage through an engaged couples class.  However, nothing could have completely prepared us for the stress of quadruplets on a marriage. Nor could the newlywed bliss compare with the deep respect that I have gained for my husband through the challenges of parenting. Marriage has been a journey. And it’s a journey I plan to continue for life. 

For Brad and I, divorce is not an option.  It’s not in our vocabulary.  We don’t even joke about it. We are in a covenant relationship.

However, do I think we are above the sins and mistakes that lead to divorce?  Absolutely not.  This is where I think many of us “Christians” have been fooled.  Our pride has deceived us from thinking it could happen to us. We’ve trusted ourselves as not weak enough to require accountability.  We’ve danced around the idea that marriage is loving your husband even when he leaves his socks on the floor, or when he squeezes the tube of toothpaste the wrong way. How many marriages have ended over socks or toothpaste, anyway?  I’m going out on a limb and saying very few.  Rather I think there are deeper issues that drive us to destroy a relationship (and the many others who lives are affected by our decisions).

Pride. Anger. Jealousy. Deceit. Discontentment. Selfishnessto name a handful.

And how quickly they can consume a marriage!

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I am sure that I have just a small grasp of the true picture of a marriage covenant in the six short years we’ve been married. What I have experienced is that marriage is much more than saying  “I Do” in a stunning white gown. Instead, marriage is a series of “I Do(s)” 

I DO forgive you for hurting me.

I DO choose to overlook your flaws and concentrate on your goodness.

I DO respect you as my husband.

I DO take responsibility for my actions.

I DO choose to love you above my children. (And to quit feeling guilty for doing so…)

I DO commit to you today, as I promised on our wedding day.

I pray this has somehow encouraged you today.  Let me leave you with a few resources that can communicate Biblical marriage much better than I could ever articulate.  First start off with a Study Bible. (I recommend this one.) These are great scripture references on this topic: Ephesians 5:22-32, and I Peter 3:1-7.  A few books that would be encouraging resources would include: The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace, Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney, Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, and Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes.

I would love to keep this conversation going in the comment section of this post.  Let’s encourage one another! 

69 Responses to “Covenant Relationship”

  1. Carey
    August 13, 2009 at 9:52 pm #

    This post was so good and so true!!! I actually just posted something I read the other day that really touched me and challenged me in my marriage. It is much to long to leave in a comment box but anyone who would like to read it can go here

    http://providence-carey.blogspot.com/2009/08/mindset-of-marriage.html

  2. Krissy
    August 13, 2009 at 10:32 pm #

    Just finished leading 9 other ladies in the Feminine Appeal study. Highly recommend the book-it stirred up great conversation and caused us all to look at our attitudes toward our husbands…while much can be debated about the actual book, the Word of God can stand up for itself, and like Elizabeth Elliot said, "The Bible does not have footnotes."

    I am sure you post is a great encouragement to many women out there. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  3. Erin Powell
    August 13, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    Great work Jen! We also attend College Park and are going through the "How to Kill Relationships and Irritate Someone" series. It's SO easy with multiple small children to grease the squeaky wheel and one's priorities can quickly and easily become kids-husband-God, totally backwards! It's a daily struggle to reverse it to God, then husband, then kids…

  4. mamalouise
    August 14, 2009 at 8:40 am #

    This was PERFECTLY put. Thank you for being so honest!

  5. Kelly
    August 14, 2009 at 9:44 am #

    I agree 100%.

  6. Mandi
    August 14, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    Thanks, Jen! I, too, have never commented before but love reading (my older son is the same age as your boys- it's fun because they are doing, saying, interested in the same things.) Thanks for the reminder of what's important. I am deeply saddened by the turn of events for the unnamed reality couple and the effect it will have on those children. I do pray, however, that God will use this situation for good, and cause many couples to look at and evaluate their own relationships, becoming stronger and more committed to each other. Some days, I have to remind myself, "Love is a choice! What are you going to choose today?" And of course, I choose to love my husband. Keep up the writing from your heart!

  7. Anonymous
    August 14, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    IF you found your husband cheating on YOU, wouldn't you opt to divorce?? Afterall, the Bible even says you can divorce if there is unfaithfulness (Matt. 5:31,32; 19:9).

  8. Anna
    August 14, 2009 at 1:37 pm #

    I really needed to read that and couldn't agree more. Thank you.

  9. MckMama
    August 14, 2009 at 3:48 pm #

    Encouraging! Inspirational! Truth in words! God breathed! Awesome! Thanks;)

  10. Candace
    August 14, 2009 at 4:30 pm #

    Great post! I kept waiting for this. Everything you wrote is exactly the way my marriage is. We choose to keep the I Do and divorce is never an option. We leave it out and I think b/c of that our marriage is stronger and our son can see that and feel that.

  11. Candace
    August 14, 2009 at 4:30 pm #

    Great post! I kept waiting for this. Everything you wrote is exactly the way my marriage is. We choose to keep the I Do and divorce is never an option. We leave it out and I think b/c of that our marriage is stronger and our son can see that and feel that.

  12. Christina
    August 14, 2009 at 5:58 pm #

    I read your blog but I don't think that I have commented before! I love to read about your little one and all that you go through with quads. I went through a small bit of infertility and ended up with 1 truly wonderful child.

    Marriage is so full of ups and down. We met and wed with in 6 months. There were a lot of people that told us it would never last. I was 20, he was 26. We have been together for 15 years, married for 14years. We have worked hard and made many mistakes. But we were both committed to our marriage and making it work. Divorce is not an option that either one of us would ever want.

    Anyways, all of this to say that this is a great post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and you blog.

  13. istillbelieve
    August 14, 2009 at 11:24 pm #

    Absolutely amazing! The 'I DO' part was an eye opener…especially the "love you above my children" part! Your blog is so fun and your family is so precious! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  14. Anonymous
    August 15, 2009 at 3:21 pm #

    We included the pledge to never divorce in our wedding vows..

    Another good book is Creative Counterpart and for the life of me I can't remember the author or find the book… should be easy enough to find though

  15. in a world surrounded by men
    August 16, 2009 at 2:10 am #

    I see your heart. Thanks for sharing your encouragement.

    When you read it for what it is, it is really quite encouraging.

    I am reading a little late – that picture of Henry in the costume is a.d.o.r.a.b.l.e.!

  16. Lauren
    August 16, 2009 at 7:28 pm #

    Jen, I love how open and honest you are, and I applaud your commitment to your marriage. You are so right that Christians fall into a trap of thinking they are above succumbing to divorce. I have been in my covenanted marriage for 2 years, 1 month, so far. No kids, but we are about to be certified foster parents, and we understand it will be a test for our marriage, but like you and Brad, we are committed to each other 110%. Something we do that we feel helps us is to have boundaries which we consistently bring up with one another and evaluate together (such as no being alone with someone of the opposite sex, keeping phone conversations with the opposite sex short [and sometimes in front of each other], etc). There's a lot of work in communicating with a spouse, but it is worth EVERY SECOND. You go, girl. :)

  17. Cyn
    August 17, 2009 at 10:51 am #

    Well timed and beautifully written! Proud that you followed the Holy Spirit's urging to write this particular post!
    BLESSINGS!!

  18. a.hurrle@yahoo.com
    September 7, 2009 at 3:17 pm #

    Research shows (sorry I can't site the source, it's from a published Christian author Sue McRoberts)that married couples of multiples are 50% more likely to get divorced than married couples with singletons, and mothers of multiples are 5 times more likely to have post partum depression. I'm a mother of multipe boys too, and my story starts out very similarly to your and your husband's relationship, pre-marriage counseling, 3 year courtship and 10 years friendship prior to that, our faith. I also, experienced a time of infertility, but Thanks be to God, conceived twins naturally. Our boys are a handful and can be so straining on a marriage, we have a beautiful younger daughter too. Do fertility doctors warn patients about the extreme stresses of raising multiples? If not, should they? Or would it fall upon deaf ears because these couples so despirately want to have their own children? We were to the point of talking adoption, rather than fertility treatments. ALL children are a gift from God, no matter how they come to us, because God makes good out of everything, even when we go against HIS will for our lives. I truly hope to get some advice about this, because yes, like you say, marriage is a covenant to God and should be taken very seriously, but SO many couples of multiples are struggling. I'm very passionate about this and want to help people, but fear being taken wrong (remember, I too experienced the pain of infertility and couldn't imagine my life without a housefull of children). I'd just like to see that it's manditory for infertile couples going through treatments to conceive, be counseled and perhaps followed up on through the years, for marriage support. Do fertility doctors not care about the health of the relationship that will nurture and raise the products of his/her work? I pray you won't be offended by my post, I know this is a very sensitive and contriversial topic and I won't win any popularity contests. From the bottom of my heart I just would love to help people, but I need more information. Hearing of your faith, I'm hoping you would understand and be open and willing to discuss this with me. I wouldn't even try with someone not Christian.
    Best wishes! You have a beautiful family!

  19. Susan
    October 3, 2009 at 8:14 pm #

    Thank you so much for Godly encouragement! It's difficult, with multiples or one or two born at seperate times. I have become seriously selfish lately…probably becaue I was so upset we moved "here" and I did not have friends "here" for a long time – because I was too hard hearted to ask God for that. We had baby #2 in May and it has been a challenge. HOWEVER – God has really changed me and my heart. Am, I need Him to. I miss being close to God and my Husband the way it was when we married 4 years ago. But, we are changing and growing as a family of 4 and we need God and His plan for our marriage. In the past week, a relative's wife decided to leave him b/c he chewed his nails. I think there is something else going on there – discontentment with God and sin.

    Thank you fro shring your life – it helps me renew my mind and refresh my love for my husband.

    Thanks for the book resources too!

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