This post is an excerpt from the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations” seminar section on covenant. It is the concluding exercise designed to remind couples that a covenant-grade commitment to marriage is necessary for the consistent application of even the most practical marriage advice.

There are two times when our selfishness tempts us to treat our marriage as less than a covenant – conflict and laziness. We will address conflict more fully in the seminar on “Communication” and laziness more fully in the seminar on “Decision Making.” But in those seminars we will be addressing the skills needed to manage conflict and avoid laziness. However, no amount of skill will circumvent the need for commitment – that is the role of covenant. We should realize (or admit) we will never out-perform our level of commitment.

The following exercise is designed to give you “eyes to see” the moments when covenant commitment is needed to combat our selfish tendencies in conflict and laziness. On the worksheet below you will find the words spoken during this wedding ceremony [provided in the larger manual from which this excerpt was taken] over the image of a puzzle. If unhealthy conflict or laziness is disrupting your marriage (and you’re not implementing the good skills you already know), then this assignment is for you.

Worksheet for this exercise: Jigsaw Marriage Excercise

  1. Print a picture of you and your spouse on one side of a piece of paper.
  2. On the other side print a copy of your wedding charge, pledge, and vows with the puzzle in background.
  3. Write your first names in the appropriate blanks in the ceremony, and reread your wedding commitments.
  4. Cut the picture into its 25 pieces – it is said doing something 21 times makes it a habit.
  5. Create a frame in which you will put your marriage portrait together.
  6. Begin to look for those moments when your laziness or approach to conflict would harm the marriage.
  7. Each time you navigate one of these moments in a way that honors your covenant, add a piece to the portrait.
  8. Each time you violate your covenant commitment through laziness or poor conflict remove a piece.
  9. Your goal, by God’s grace, is to create a lifestyle of:

(a)     being aware of the moments you are tempted to neglect your marriage covenant, and

(b)     intentionally loving your spouse as your own body (Eph. 5:28) in these moments of temptation.

10. Keep the picture as a trophy of God’s grace in your life and a reminder of your covenant commitment.

 Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations
Dates: June 23 and 30, 2012
Time: 4:00 to 6:00 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free