Covenant vs. Contract Marriage

Honouring the marriage covenant provides additional strength to the relationship and aids in overcoming challenges.

Marriage vows are typically a covenant made between two individuals with a promise to honor, love, and serve the other through the good times and the bad.

Contracts are agreements whereby one party offers something in exchange for the other party offering something. In a contract marriage, the emphasis is on each spouse doing their part or giving a 50% effort. If one spouse does not carry their weight, then it is unfair to the other. In business, if one party does not hold up their end of the agreement, then the contract is null and void.

“Marriage is by nature a covenant, not just a private contract one may cancel at will.”  Bruce C. Hafen

Marriage relationships work best when both partners give their full effort; not just 50% of the time but give all that they can. There are often circumstances when one spouse falls short of their responsibilities. This may be due to illness, schooling, or other short-term commitments. In this case, the other spouse can make up the difference. Each spouse is likely to have times when they need help and understanding from the other.

In life, there are many challenges and changes that happen that would make it difficult for spouses to always give equally to the family. It’s important that couples support each other and compensate for each other’s short comings.

Bruce C Hafen shared that every marriage is tested repeatedly by three wolves:

  • Natural adversity
  • Their own imperfections
  • Excessive individualism – the push in society to focus on our own self rather than being part of the family.

I have struggled with accepting my own imperfections. I often thought that I would be able to avoid making mistakes or offending my spouse. However, since I only see things from my own perspective and since daily life often brings challenges or natural adversity, I’ve learned that it’s impossible to get things right all the time. Learning to apologize and continuing to strive to do better is key to a successful relationship.

I also find that if I am not dealing with the challenges well, I move toward being more independent and making plans and goals to do on my own without involving the rest of the family.

Working together to focus on the family with a heart of love, determination, and endurance brings happiness and the relationship is rewarded for the efforts. Challenges can make marriage stronger and couples closer together.

In a covenant marriage couples are bound to each other and to the Lord as they wade through the many challenges of life.


Bruce C. Hafen, “Covenant Marriage,” Ensign, Nov 1996, 26

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