This morning, Keith gets up first. He lets Heathcliff out for his ‘hurry up’ then Freya. From the comfort of bed, I hear her barking in the woods beyond the mountain road turn-around.

I smell the coffee, which Keith sets up to brew by 5 every morning – we’re early risers. After thinking about this blog post a little longer, I get up and strip the bed. Monday is laundry day; we’ll snuggle in clean sheets tonight. Then I climb the stairs to the loft and pour myself a cup of coffee.

“Anything interesting in the news?” I ask looking over Keith’s shoulder at the Wall Street Journal on his computer screen.

Down in the kitchen, I add milk to my coffee, then place a couple of slices of leftover banana bread on a plate and carry it up to Keith.

“Thank you, my love,” he says. It’s warm today, so Keith won’t be stocking the woodstoves. Instead, he’ll clean up stinkbugs – we both will.

This past weekend, a group of women at church met to discuss the topic of marriage. Why do people get married, how does it work, and why do people separate?

What gets said there stays there, so I’ll only share my thoughts.

Throughout history and across cultures, people married for several reasons: family property, procreation and power, security and companionship, sex and love. Even today, marriage is a contract often backed by religious authority. The couple agrees to certain obligations, which extend to any children between them.

Ann Voskamp equates the working out of marriage to guitar strings.

The string has to be moved from its comfortable, resting position if it’s ever going to make music.

The bending of the string, this induces stress. And as the string bends, as the string arches in stress, and then releases, it vibrates — and there is the practiced offering.

This one clear note, high and long.

In stress, there can be song.

The days we feel stressed, the days we feel empty — these are our Guitar Days. These are the days that could make music.

The resonance of sound is always in the surrender.

“Surrendering” to another, giving in, compromising – how difficult that is for me. I want independence, exemption from obligation, freedom to play guitar the way I want to. Yet alone I miss the music making, the truth that happens between two people, the model of Christ and the church.

People rightly separate if there is assault, adultery, child abuse, drunken rage, addictive gambling or theft or lying. And although not everyone agrees, I believe in second chances because I am living mine.


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


  1. Barbara Risser

    Thanks for leading an hour plus of spirited discussion regarding Piper’s book on marriage. Our discussion was good! I tend to be a listener rather than a talker. Bonhoeffer comments on marriage sparked my interest on his life. I bought a biography of him a little over a year ago so will need to read it soon! Loved your blog post – Monday is my laundry/cleaning day as well so need to get back to work!

    • Carole Duff

      Thanks so much for your compliment and comment. Let me know if the biography of Bonhoeffer is good. Perhaps we could suggest it for book club.


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