Preface: There are a lot of lists in this post.
A covenant marriage has only been adopted by three states in the United States--Arizona, Louisiana, and Arkansas and 20 other states are considering it. This marriage really emphasizes that marriage is more than just a contract. There are three basic things about a covenant marriage that separates it from original marriage:
- Pre-marital counseling is required.
- Must meet grounds for divorce.
- Abuse, adultery, addiction, federal imprisonment
- Pre-set waiting period (in AZ it's 1 year to divorce)
- Usually both must agree to seek counseling if they are having issues.
It's becoming a legal deal because the purpose of this type of marriage is to "promote and strengthen marriages, reduce the rate of divorce, lessen the number of children born out of wedlock, discourage cohabitation, and frame marriage as an honorable and desirable institution".
You're probably looking at this and thinking one of two things:
- "That's a stupid idea."
- "Isn't that what marriage what--more than a contract, don't just get divorced...?"
If you're thinking that first thought, I'm going to go along with it for a little bit. Only I'm going to substitute the word "stupid" with another "s" word--scary. That's a SCARY idea.
- Pre-marital counseling, maybe I could deal with. But that means we gotta share all of our junk. Openly. With someone. Together. AUGH!
- Meeting grounds for divorce basically equals trapped. ("IT'S A TRAP!" hahaha) Right? This means that I have to stay with my husband pretty much no matter what. Even if he doesn't take out the trash. Even if he didn't make that much money. Even if I stopped loving him. Even if he gets sick. Even if the marriage isn't the top priority for either of us. Even if poor communication occurs. Even if, even if, even if. Oh, crap.
- Waiting. Well, I can't stand them. Why do I have to be TRAPPED with them for at least another year? Why even try? It's already doomed. The relationship cannot be helped. That year is going to suck.
If you're thinking the second thought, I respond with this: Yes.
Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, YES. This is what marriage is! This is what kind of marriage we're called to be in. This is real marriage. None of this flaky crap that people do. Yeah, I called it crap. It's CRAP that people just divorce on a moment's notice. It's CRAP that people treat marriage like it's nothing, like it's just basically a long-term relationship and nothing more.
This is kind of what I meant by I no longer see relationships as one long continuum, but rather as separate steps. That once you become engaged, THAT MEANS SOMETHING. That's HUGE. But, engagement is not unity. Engagement is not marriage. Engagement is not synonymous with marriage. Engagement is simply a commitment to unity. That's really it. It's saying, "Hey. We're committed to the idea of getting married." But, just because you are engaged does not mean that you are married. Nor does it mean that you're just dating. It's a big step. But it's not THE step. It's not marriage.
Marriage. It's once you've signed that contract. Once you have signed that marriage certificate. It's once you've said "I do". Marriage MEANS SOMETHING. It's even HUGER THAN HUGE. Marriage is a BIG DEAL. It's DIFFERENT than engagement. It's DIFFERENT than just being in a relationship. It's taking that leap, that jump, that step.
And saying, "I'm in. I'm all in."
I'm not saying it's not scary. Because it is. Getting married says, "I love you. I love you regardless of the crap that happens. I trust you. I fully trust you. I am committed to you."
The Bible has some ideas about marriage--ideas that are scary, ideas that are so worthwhile though.
1 Corinthians 7 (highlights):
- Have sex. (vs. 3-4)
- Keep God's commandments. (vs. 19)
- Be content. (vs. 17)
The Bible also has ideas about wives in Proverbs 31:10-31. A wife...
- Can be trusted. (vs. 11)
- Will greatly enrich her husband's life. (vs. 11)
- Should bring good, not harm. (vs. 12)
- Cares for her husband. (vs. 13-15)
- Invests in her husband. (vs. 16)
- Should be strong, hard worker, energetic (vs. 17)
- Helps others (vs. 20-21)
- Is clothed with strength and dignity (vs. 25)
- Laughs (vs. 25)
- Is wise (vs. 26)
- Is kind (vs. 26)
- Fears the Lord (vs. 30)
The Bible also describes characteristics in husbands in Ephesians 5:23-33. A husband...
- Is the leader (vs. 23)
- Loves his wife (vs. 25-29, 33)
- Unites with his wife (vs. 31)
And my prayer...
- I want a husband that is so in love with God.
- A husband who God calls His son.
- A husband who enjoys spending time with God.
- I want us to display God's love, agape love, to the world.
- I want a husband who will lead.
- A husband who is strong.
- A husband who is sturdy.
- A husband who supports and encourages people.
- A man that God is molding and desires for me.
- I want to united as one with a man, to be naked and not feel shame (Genesis 2:24-25)
- I want a man who will bring me happiness (Deut. 24:5)
- I want a husband who will sexually please me (1 Corinthians 7:3-4).
- Someone who I can sexually satisfy (1 Corin. 7:3-4).
- A man who will so enjoy having sex with me.
- A husband who gets hyped to see me.
- A man who wants to have sex and cherishes the idea of sex.
- A husband committed to me.
- I want us to love one another in the way that God loves us.
- I don't want him to throw my mistakes in my face (Ephesians 5:27)
- A husband who will take my hand and lead me to do God's will.
- A husband who I can trust with all of me--all of my desires, all of my setbacks and failures, all of my hopes and dreams.
- A husband who won't ever give up on me.
- A husband who is consistent.
- A husband who thinks I'm truly gorgeous.
- A husband who thinks I'm the daughter of the King of kings.
- A man who I see as beautiful.
- A man who I see as the son of the King of kings.
- A handsome man so overwhelmingly in love with God.
- A man who desperately loves me.
- A man who is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.
And with my time right now. I need to be content with where I am at. I need to be okay with where I may be. And that right now, my time is to be spent solely committed to Jesus, my Lord, my God, my King. To be devoted to Him in body and spirit (1 Corinthians 7:34).
It may have seemed like I sort of strayed from the idea of covenant marriage. But I didn't. Not in the least bit. Love your husband. Love your wife. Love selflessly and unconditionally.