Stool-O-Marriage: A Rustic Impression of the Marriage Covenant

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 01-19-2007 07:06 PM 5069 views 6 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This stool is “Not for Sale”. However, if you want something similar, drop me a note at [email protected] to discuss it with me.

Now, this stool isn’t shown because it is any great example of my work, nor is it something note-worthy in my legacy of furniture design, but the message behind it could be meaningful to others. Since this is such a silly looking little project, I had decided a few months ago when I built this stool to “skip” the opportunity to post it as a project on lumberjocks.

Then, this past Sunday, a couple at my church asked if I could build them one like it as it had meant so much to them and their marriage. I told them that they could have this original one, and they both started tearing up, and thanking me, and telling what an impact my little stool, and the pastor’s sermon on Marriage had on them and their marriage. They wanted the stool so that they could place their large family Bible on it, and have it conspicuous in their home so that they would always remember how important their marriage is to them, and to God.

I had not foreseen that this “silly-little-stool” could have such an emotional impact on someone’s life, but after hearing about it, I decided to go back and post it as a project here just so that others could be motivated to put their hands to wood and create something meaningful to someone else.

Project Story:
I attend a non-denomination, evangelical based, small country church. We hired a new young, on-fire, pastor about a year ago, and the little church is growing now, and we are all healing through a lot of pain caused by bad experiences in the past 6 years.

Now, the new pastor, David Gass, did a sermon series on Marriage that I think could rival any pastor’s message on the subject, including the “big guys” that are on the radio and television. Over the past year, he has made a reputation of being a tremendous pulpit preacher, and the Marriage Series was an example of this gifting he has.

While he was preparing for the sermon series, he and I were discussing a small set of verses in the book of Genesis that I had learned about around 12 years earlier. Back in the early 1990’s my wife and I attended a marriage seminar taught by a nice older couple named Hiram and Marcy Cassel. We attended the conference shortly after my conversion from Atheist to Christian, and our marriage was in a big crisis during those years. We needed some advice, so we attend the seminar with high hopes. The Cassel’s spent the weekend teaching use Scriptures to encourage all of us in our marriages. One set of verses they covered was in the first part of the book of Genesis, and which forms the foundation of what we call Biblical Marriage.

Genesis 2:21-25 (NIV)
21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.
22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

The 24th verse here was the main focus. The Cassel’s relayed to us that in almost every case of marriage difficulty they had witnessed, the root cause was that someone was not doing one of the three steps in this 24th verse. They relayed to us that a man and woman must first “LEAVE” their parents, “CLEAVE” to each other making a new family, and must “WEAVE” themselves together as one body (flesh) through the act of married sex and with a new attitude of shared completeness. This meant that the new couple were not the two original people, but upon entering into the marriage covenant, were viewed by God, as one new organism made up of two halves, both needing the other half for the completing of one body.

I had been relaying this memory and message to our young pastor David, and told him that during the weekend, the Cassel’s used a description of a Three-Legged Stool, with each leg representing one of the three steps to a happy marriage. If one leg was missing, or was broken, the stool (marriage) wouldn’t stand. David liked the concept, and so I offered to actually make a stool for him to use during his sermon series to drive home the point. Now, I just had to do the project, and have it ready by the next Sunday, only a handful of days away. yikes!

Our church had just bought a parsonage (home) for David and his family, and in the yard was a sad slab of wood used for an outdoor landscaping detail. David didn’t like it, so I asked if I could have it. When I went to pick it up, I discovered that it was walnut, my favorite wood. We think that the walnut slab had been cut out of a tree that had been on the property of the parsonage and that the old stump is still showing in the back yard.

I decided when I was designing this stool, later called the “Stool-O-Marriage” that I wanted something “weird” looking, something that people would remember, and remember the message. I have learned over the years that people tend to forget sermon messages, and I wanted to help Pastor Dave make as memorable an impact as possible.

I first took the walnut slab and flattened both sides on my router-rail flattening jig, shown in the Forum Skill Share topic

For the legs, I had some old Hickory sticks that a friend had given me several years earlier thinking I could make walking sticks out of them. They were just the right size diameter for legs for the little stool, and so I “sacrificed” one of the staffs. I cut one staff into three legs, and cut round tenons on my Legacy Ornamental Mill and then carved the name of each of the three Genesis principles on each leg.

I found when I started working with the Hickory pieces, that each leg blank was completely riddled with worm holes. I had left these hickory staffs in my old barn to dry over the years, and apparently, some worm loved the taste. I decided that having legs with worm holes could have some spiritual meaning as well, and decided to leave the legs “rustic,” “with knots,” and with “worm holes.” So the carved lettering would show up better, I used a black ink Markee to color in the letters.

On the back of the seat bottom, I carved the reference to the verse in Genesis. I then carved a little bit of a sculpted bottom on the seat with a hand held grinder, and glued it all together, sanded, and sprayed it with lacquer. All, in all, it took me about 10 hours of work.

Pastor David used the little stool in his sermon illustration, calling it the “Stool-O-Marriage” honoring me by explaining that I had built the stool.

Note: If you would like a CD with the Marriage sermon series on it, drop me a note with your address, and I will see that you get a copy sent to you.

So a few months have passed, and the little “Stool-O-Marriage” was sitting in my cramped little home. I didn’t want to throw it out, and I didn’t really have a good home for it, so it was just sitting in our house taking up space. Then, this weekend, the married couple relayed to me how much the study of marriage and the visual impact of the message of the stool helped them in their marriage, and so it was my pleasure to see that the stool now has a new home.

As you think through the people you love in your life, is there someone that could use a “message in wood” from you. If so, you won’t regret the hours and material you invest in passing the message onto them. Now, get out and make some sawdust!

Thanks for looking,
Mark DeCou

Here’s another view, just trying out Don’s method for getting more than 3 photos shown in a project! Thanks Don for the idea.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

15 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5651 days

#1 posted 01-19-2007 09:08 PM

excellent. I have a couple who are really struggling and I’m really struggling with. Why? 1) they haven’t left their original “family” vision, 2) they aren’t connecting as a couple and 3) they aren’t creating their own style of family that fits for who they are and

I’ll bet they would benefit from the Sermon!!
Thank you so much for sharing this story.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5804 days

#2 posted 01-19-2007 09:37 PM

Might make a interesting woodworking/marriage workshop having a couple work together to build a stool. Thanks for the posting Mark. I really like the Leave, Cleave, and Weave.

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5667 days

#3 posted 01-19-2007 11:32 PM

Thanks, Mark. This is a moving story – it brought tears to my eyes just reading it.

God bless,

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Shawn's profile


225 posts in 5643 days

#4 posted 01-20-2007 03:22 AM

Great Story Mark, I think I’m gonna forward this to my pastor.

-- Cheers

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5727 days

#5 posted 01-20-2007 04:16 AM

The reason most marriages fail is because so many people think Love is a feeling. Love is NOT a feeling, Love is a decision. I have one scripture to base this on. John 3:16 For God so loved the world … God didn’t love the world because He had those giddy feelings that people often think love is. God decided to love the world, even though most people are hard to love. You don’t “fall” in love. If you fell in anything, I’d make sure to wash your clothes. You don’t “fall” out of love, you simply give up, and decide that it isn’t worth the hassle. Oh, wait… another scripture: I Cor 13:8 Love never fails. So if it was really love to begin with, then, it still has to be love. If it was giddy feelings then, giddy feelings can fail.

AND THAT’S ALL i HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT. (in my best Forrest Gump impression)

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5737 days

#6 posted 01-20-2007 04:21 AM

One of your best projects buddy and incredible message. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5651 days

#7 posted 01-20-2007 02:37 PM

i’m going to quote you Obi, with the family I’m working with!! “Love is NOT a feeling, Love is a decision.” Love it

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5896 days

#8 posted 01-20-2007 04:18 PM

Obi is on to something, and it sounds similar to a book by Gary Smalley and John Trent. The book is titled “Love Is A Decision”.

Here is a link at amazon for the title.

Gary Smalley has a whole shelf of books he has written for people and the issue of marriage. He also has a wonderful marriage retreat center outside of Branson, MO where a whole host of people have had counseling. We have seen the place, but not attended a seminar there. It is very close to the main Camp Kanakuk location across the lake they call Tanneycomo from Branson. Both Smalley and Trent have dozens of recordings they have available for someone that wants to watch a video, or hear a recording, to support their book lineup.

When my wife and I were trying to put back the few (that may be too many) and tattered thread(s) of what was left of our marriage, one of the guys that was discipling us gave me the book “Love is a Decision” by Smally-Trent, and I committed about half way through that book that I was not going to give up. About nine months later, my wife made that same decision. Another book I worked through during that nine month period was by James Dobson titled “Love Must Be Tough” which helped me open the “door” for her, and to stop begging and pleading and whining. We are still married 12.5 years later, but only with God’s grace, and a super-sized dose of humbling for me.

Dennis: if the door opens to bring couples in and teach them to build a stool while they get counseling from a couple of great professional counselors that are close to me, I would love that opportunity. We’ll just have to see which way the tree falls, so to speak. I’m open to any opportunity to use woodworking and ministry to help people with their lives.
Don thanks for your comments, you are kind.
Shawn, if your pastor likes the concept and wants a stool from you, email me and we’ll discuss how to remove the protection on this design for you.
Also, thanks Mike, I hadn’t expected a comment on this project like that! It is, by the way, just a silly-little-stool.

If anyone is struggling with a marriage issue, it always seems that the easiest way to get out, find someone new, and start over. I would like to challenge that thinking. Taking pain and “baggage” into another convenant while the first covenant is still active and alive can be way more challenging than it might seem on the surface.

Regards, and press on,
Mark DeCou

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View frank's profile


1492 posts in 5696 days

#9 posted 01-20-2007 04:51 PM

Hi Mark;
—-well by now you must know that I always love and appreciate rustic furniture!

This is a very good story you have given us here and also a good interpretation of rustic which you have wrote into this rustic wooden bench!

Good interpretation of style and great wood art!!!

-- --frank, NH,

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5737 days

#10 posted 01-21-2007 06:59 AM

Mark I’ve been married 34 years, you learn a lot about sacrifice, selflessness and blended souls. We can almost read each others mind, it’s weird, but true. I owe my life to my wife, had she not intervened 20 years ago, I’d be dead today. What can you say about someone like that. buds, mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5667 days

#11 posted 01-21-2007 08:02 AM

Touchy/feely woodworkers! I must be in woodworkers heaven!

Oh, just for the record, 32 years happily married. Not bad out of 44 years. LOL

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5667 days

#12 posted 01-21-2007 08:04 AM

Just joking – 44 years it is.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5651 days

#13 posted 01-21-2007 01:12 PM

that’s funny Don :)

For myself, I’ve had an interesting journey. My first husband was an alcoholic and took his life back in ‘98. After his death I made a list – a list of qualities that I felt that I needed in a partner. In ‘99 I met a man who was everything on the list and we have an amazing relationship.
I don’t regret any part of my life’s journey, although I don’t want to relive some of it, but it has all been building blocks for who I am today.

The key to healthy relationships (besides the stool message) is respect—respecting the other’s “Self”, “self”, “barriers”, “path”, and finding a way to mesh the two paths into one.
Hmm 3 legs, 1 seat.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View paddyo's profile


11 posts in 5260 days

#14 posted 03-04-2008 10:37 PM

Hey, Mark:
I’m a newbie to LJ, but I appreciate the story about how the stool came to be and how it touched and encouraged other lives in the ‘daily struggle’. It’s amazing that a functional item like a stool can be used to convey such important concepts in the marriage relationship. Thanks for changing you mind about posting this project!

-- Pat, Hoover,AL Fresh cut wood smells almost as good as fresh baked bread!

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 5429 days

#15 posted 03-04-2008 11:19 PM

Mark, I’m glad I stumbled on this posting. As an ordained minister, I am called on to do a wedding or two, and I’d like your permission to build these for my counselling sessions. It is a fantastic illustration and reminder for a young couple.

-- Working at Woodworking

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