Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Covenant Marriage

I've been doing some reading about Covenant Marriages.

Apparently, three states have a covenant marriage option for couples in their state.  Other states have tried and failed to pass legislation that would allow for covenant marriage licenses to be issued in their state.  The gist of a covenant marriage is that the parties agree to premarital counseling and to limit the grounds on which they may divorce, usually to adultery, abuse, or a felony crime being committed by one partner.  The agreement also specifies that the couple will undergo marriage counseling and a longer-than-normally-required period of separation before a divorce is granted.  Additionally, in these states, "normal" marriages can be upgraded to a covenant marriage at any point after the wedding.

I was surprised to learn that although such marriages are purely voluntary, there is some strong opposition to it.  The reasons it is opposed are mostly based on anecdotal accounts of one partner being pressured into it, or on judges not wanting to grant a divorce to a couple with a covenant marriage even when conditions have been met if one party doesn't want the divorce, thus endangering the other party.

This raises some questions in my mind.  First, if one partner is committed enough to the marriage to desire covenant marriage, but the other is not, shouldn't that raise some red flags for both of them?   Perhaps the premarital counseling required for a covenant marriage would be a good idea, since they obviously have differing ideas about what a marriage commitment really means.

Second, this whole idea has a religious foundation.  The idea of unbreakable covenants as opposed to contracts which can be broken is found in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, as well as in the Q'ran, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the idea exists in other religions as well.  So why would those who might enter into this religious commitment be offended at the idea that they must wait a long time and receive counsel before they can break the covenant? Shouldn't they want to give their marriages every chance to succeed, since these same religions usually condemn divorce as well?

After giving it some thought, I think that any two Christians should be able to enter a covenant marriage and  make it work.  If they can't, they are not relying on the God who blesses that covenant, and it should be a wake-up call for them to go back to the beginning and examine their foundation.  Chances are good that one or both partners have drifted from their relationship with God, and that in turn, has led to a drifting away from their relationship to one another.

That said, I hereby declare that if/when I remarry, I want a covenant marriage!  My state doesn't offer that as a legal option, but I want the man I marry to have the degree of commitment to the marriage that would allow him to make a covenant with me, in the presence of God and our families and friends.  Just a contract isn't good enough for me.  Allowing divorce as an out in case the feelings fade or one of us meets someone else or we grow apart isn't something I want to be party to. 

For my readers who are married, is your marriage a covenant between you and your spouse, or is it a contract?  Could you and your spouse convert your marriage to a covenant marriage if you lived in a state that offers that option?


BurttBunch said...

Covenant marriage here! And when we renewed our vows that was part of our ceremony and the preacher talked about covenant marriage. I agree...it should cause red flags if both parties can't agree to it.

Kympossible said...

We have a covenant marriage, but it wasn't recognized as a legal option when we married. I don't know if our state would convert it to a covenant marriage, probably not. Basically we agreed during our premarital counselling that divorce would not be an option that we would consider.

I agree, if one partner is wanting the covenant marriage and the other is opposed to it, that should put the brakes on the wedding plans!