A True Grit Marriage

*photo credit

Last night we had a
good-hard-true-grit-marriage talk.

And it was good.
And it was hard.
And it was true.
And there was some grit.
No big huge issues.
Just a little air-clearing needed after several weeks of running-crazy-busy, long work hours, end-of-the-school-year-hoo-rah, late nights, and…

The fact that we agreed to help with a marriage class this summer.

We went through Paul Tripp’s book What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage last fall with our small group and I really do think it’s one of my all-time favorite books about marriage.  This summer our church is offering a class covering the contents of the book and we’re responsible for a section.

Good accountability–
And an opportunity to share how God has worked in our marriage.
And an opportunity to be transparent and vulnerable about our struggles.
And an opportunity to point to God’s faithfulness.

Because most marriages start…with unrealistic expectations. 
And as Tripp explains, “unrealistic expectations always lead to disappointment”.

The reality is that–
I’m a broken, sinful, person who fails.
And my husband is also a broken, sinful person who fails.
And we live in a world that is broken and sinful and full of failure.

Our marriages live in the middle of a world that does not function as God intended.  Somehow, someway, your marriage is touched every day by the brokenness of our world…you will not escape the environment in which God has chosen you to live.  It is not an accident that you are conducting your marriage in this broken world…None of this is chance, or luck.  It is all a part of God’s redemptive plan.  ~Paul Tripp What Did You Expect Chapter 1

I should not be surprised or disheartened that my marriage is sometimes a bit more like the movie

True Grit  than A Cinderella Story.

I should not be surprised that my marriage needs to be regularly rescued by grace.

And there is hope, because as Tripp shares in the first chapter of What Did You Expect:

When you are sinned against or when the fallen world breaks your door down, don’t lash out or run away. Stand in your weakness and confusion and say, “I am not alone. God is with me, and He is faithful, powerful, and willing.” You can be realistic and hopeful at the very same time. Realistic expectations are not about hope without honesty, and they are not about honesty without hope. Realism is found at the intersection of unabashed honesty and uncompromising hope. God’s Word and God’s grace make both possible in your marriage.

Realism–“the intersection of unabashed honesty and uncompromising hope”.

Oh–how I love this.
Marriage requires work and effort and digging in and facing struggles–
With honesty and with hope.
And “marriages are fixed vertically before they are ever fixed horizontally.”
~Paul Tripp

So last night we had a “True Grit” talk.
And ended up closer and more united and more real and more honest–
Than when we’d started off.

And then…
we watched True Grit.
Really together.
Me and my true-grit-guy.
And I’d take that over a glass slipper any day.

“You must pay for everything in this world — one way or another.
There is nothing free except the grace of God.”
- Mattie Ross, True Grit
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  1. Wish we could attend class! We are two chapters through that book, and we are appreciating his insights. Amazing that you can find time after the kiddos are in bed for a “True Grit” talk and a movie after that…I want to know your secret!

  2. Ugh, Dave and I had a “true grit” conversation last night too…well, several actually. A bit eerie to hop over here and read it on your blog too. :)

    That book is one of my mother in law’s favorite marriage books for counseling. She recommends it all the time and it’s on my shelf waiting to be read. After the “true grit” conversation, maybe I should move it up on my reading list. :)

  3. It is awesome to have a “True Grit”
    marriage without the slipper, but with lots of love!

  4. Sarah–the secret is we stayed up WAY too late. Great–huh? But today is the first day of summer–woo-hoo!!! Unfortunately, not for Jason :( Kiddos go to bed pretty early still (and 3 out of 4 are self-putters-to-bedders). Totally different stage friend. The other 1 out of 4 interrupted our True Grit talk like 6 times :) ugh–real life.

  5. Elizabeth–it really is a GREAT book. And it’s an interesting read….lots of stories that are very easy to relate to…
    Those talks are good…difficult…but good when you get through them.

    Joyful Noise–YES! You are so right!

  6. I haven’t seen the movie or read the book, but you’ve got me thinking. I love those “true-grit” talks, though. They do bring us closer, don’t they? Sometimes it’s just easier to sweep it under the rug, let busy-ness rule, and pretend everything is going ok on auto-pilot. But if we do that, we miss an opportunity for true intimacy, don’t we? You’ve given me some good summer reading (and a movie) to put on the list! Thank you, Kara.

  7. GOD’s Grace in a marriage…brings us through those gritty issue moments.

    Been awhile since I’ve seen the John Wayne version…need to watch the old and new!

  8. I started reading that book last summer and set it aside because it was making me uncomfortable like it might cause me to change. :)

    Thank you for this honest and encouraging testimony. I always learn from a visit to your site.

  9. We had one of those “True Grit” talks not too long ago, either. Difficult, and yet I love that marriage is so strong that we can go into those gritty places and emerge closer together.

  10. i’ll have to put that book on my “to read” list. thanks for sharing, once again, from your heart. lots of hard work, marriage is. and worth every bit of it :-)

  11. Those are the best {albeit tough!}talks!! I always feel so much more connected after we’d had a deep conversation. I haven’t read that book, I think I need to put that on my list :)

  12. Sounds like a good book to read. Marriage is so worth all the time you put into it.

  13. It a really good book…really worth reading…not a “these are the 5 steps to a great marriage” book…but so very convicting and full of so much hope. My husband is our study leader and we went through it in the fall with about 10 couples…some really hard scenarios…and they all still felt is was very helpful. Hard. But helpful.

  14. Beautiful — gritty and all. Never giving up hope — that is what has gotten us through (well, that and God, of course). Wish we could be there to take your class!

  15. Hi Kara. Thanks for your honest post. I’ll have to take a look at that book. I’ve never heard of it before.

  16. I find it’s always good to give talks- I learn more than the participants!! Patsy from

  17. Patsy–so true.
    So convicting to know you’re going to stand up in front of a group and try to share about something.
    I want to write GOD’S GRACE in big letters across my forehead.

    Last year…Jason and his friend Andrew led a parenting class….talk about humbling…. :)
    But they titled it “My Kid Did What !?!” Just because really…it’s His story…we’re doing our best to follow Him, respond to His Holy Spirit…ask for forgiveness…but beyond that and above that and all through that…it’s really about His mercy and love for a sinner saved by grace.

  18. That was an interesting definition of realism…making me think. I am trying to imagine “unabashed honesty” and “uncompromising hope”, and I realize how far I miss the mark on both those things. Am I always that honest? Do I have that kind of hope? If I’m off on those two counts, than according to the defintion, I also don’t have an accurate view of reality, either! Really good stuff for me to chew on. Thanks for your post!

  19. It’s so hard Anna…your words ring of the truth of “real life”.

    It’s so hard to be honest.
    It’s easier to sweep it under the rug. But the book also talks about a detente…where you are living…co-existing…but never talking things through.
    I’m always trying to find the balance (prayerfully) between letting little things go (and just forgiving) and then being willing to bring up the things and talk through the things that drive a wedge between us, that make us feel distant even when we’re sitting together on the same couch…trying to wait on the Holy Spirit’s prompting…but you’re right–it’s so hard.

    The best thing about this book is that it first makes me look inward and when I honestly examine my own ugly, sinful heart…makes me a whole lot more gracious and forgiving…because I know how much I need it myself.

  20. This is an AWESOME post. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  21. I haven’t heard of this book, but it looks like a great one! I have heard of the movie and my husband has seen it, but I haven’t. Maybe we’ll have a true grit date night and watch it together :) Great post and best wishes on leading a portion of the marriage class! You’ll do a great job I’m sure as you let God’s love and grace shine through all your ups and downs of your marriage :)

  22. “Unrealistic expectations always lead to disappointment” So true. My husband and I don’t have a perfect marriage (which isn’t surprising because neither of us is perfect), but we’re seeing so often – even in our own families – that unrealistic expectations are such a killer.

  23. I too, am going to look into that book and movie. Most of thee time my hubby and I are on the same page thank goodness. But it never hurts to read and learn some more skills

  24. What a great post. We have been married for three years and I believe the Lord has refined us thoroughly trial by trial. I am so blessed to have a husband that tries daily to love me as Christ loves the church. I will definitely be ordering the book. Thankyou for sharing. Unfortunately our true grit still makes it way out in heated discussion something we are working on and praying about.

  25. I married my high school sweetheart after six years of dating. We just celebrated our 23rd anniversary. :)We have truly grown-up together! I’m blessed to have such a lovely husband. Of course every growing marriage has true grit conversations. I’m happy to year you had a “growing” and fun night with your hubby.

    Stopping in from HHH.


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