Covenant Marriage

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Common Things About Covenant Marriage

Common Things About Covenant Marriage

Common things about covenant marriage include a heightened level of commitment, mandatory premarital counseling, limited grounds for divorce, and an emphasis on maintaining family stability. Covenant marriage offers a more durable option in today’s culture, where high divorce rates make marriage seem flimsy. Covenant marriage is a type of union that combines religious and legal tenets to strengthen the marriage between partners. This blog explores the idea of the common things about covenant marriage, including its background, application, and its benefits and drawbacks.

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What is Covenant Marriage?

Covenant marriage is a legally distinct form of marriage that requires couples to undergo premarital counseling and agree to stricter divorce conditions. Unlike standard marriages, which can be dissolved relatively easily, covenant marriages require couples to work harder to resolve their issues before considering separation. This concept encourages couples to view marriage as a lifelong commitment, emphasizing the seriousness of their vows.

The Origins and Spread of Covenant Marriage

Covenant marriage was introduced in the United States in the late 1990s as a response to rising divorce rates and the perceived decline of traditional family values. Louisiana was the first state to enact covenant marriage laws in 1997, followed by Arkansas and Arizona. The movement was driven by conservative and religious groups advocating for stronger marital bonds and greater family stability.

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The Covenant Marriage Process

Entering a covenant marriage involves several specific steps, which may vary by state but generally include:

1. Premarital Counseling: Couples must undergo counseling from a clergy member or designated marriage counselor before obtaining a marriage license. This counseling covers the seriousness of marriage, conflict resolution, and spousal responsibilities.

2. Declaration of Intent: Couples sign a declaration of intent outlining their understanding of the covenant marriage commitment. This document often includes a pledge to seek marital counseling if problems arise and to make all reasonable efforts to preserve the marriage.

3. Limited Grounds for Divorce: In a covenant marriage, divorce is not granted on the basis of “irreconcilable differences” or “no-fault” grounds. Instead, divorce is only permitted under specific circumstances such as adultery, abandonment, physical or sexual abuse, or after a substantial period of separation (usually one to two years).

Benefits of Covenant Marriage

1. Enhanced Commitment: The additional steps required to enter into a covenant marriage encourage couples to seriously consider the gravity of their commitment, potentially leading to stronger marriages.

2. Promotes Problem-Solving: The necessity of premarital and ongoing counseling fosters better communication and problem-solving skills, helping couples navigate difficulties more effectively.

3. Potential for Lower Divorce Rates: By making divorce more difficult, covenant marriages may contribute to lower divorce rates and greater family stability.

Potential Drawbacks

1. Limited Availability: Covenant marriage laws are only available in a few states, limiting their accessibility to many couples who might be interested.

2. Restrictive Divorce Conditions: The stringent requirements for divorce can potentially trap individuals in unhealthy or abusive relationships, despite provisions for exceptions in cases of abuse.

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3. Cultural and Religious Overtones: The emphasis on traditional and often religious values in covenant marriage may not resonate with all couples, particularly those with secular or progressive views on marriage.

Is Covenant Marriage Right for You?

Deciding whether a covenant marriage is suitable depends on personal beliefs, values, and commitment to the institution of marriage. For couples who view marriage as a lifelong covenant and are willing to invest in its success through counseling and stricter divorce conditions, covenant marriage can be a valuable option. However, it’s crucial to carefully consider the implications and ensure that both partners are fully aligned in their understanding and expectations.

Covenant marriage represents a significant departure from the modern, more flexible approach to marriage and divorce. By requiring premarital counseling and setting higher barriers for divorce, it aims to strengthen the marital bond and encourage couples to work through their differences. While not without its challenges and criticisms, covenant marriage offers an intriguing alternative for those seeking a deeper commitment in their marital relationship. As society continues to evolve, the future of covenant marriage will likely reflect broader trends in how we value and approach the institution of marriage.

Frequently Asked Questions About Covenant Marriage

1. What is a covenant marriage?

A covenant marriage is a type of marriage agreement that requires couples to undergo premarital counseling and agree to stricter requirements for divorce compared to standard marriages. It emphasizes the seriousness of the marital commitment and aims to promote long-term, stable relationships.

2. How does covenant marriage differ from a traditional marriage?

In a traditional marriage, divorce can often be obtained relatively easily under “no-fault” grounds. In contrast, covenant marriage requires couples to fulfill specific conditions before they can divorce, such as undergoing counseling and proving grounds like adultery, abuse, abandonment, or living separately for a designated period.

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3. Which states offer covenant marriage?

As of now, covenant marriage is available in three states: Louisiana, Arkansas, and Arizona. These states have specific laws and procedures governing covenant marriages.

4. What are the requirements to enter into a covenant marriage?

To enter into a covenant marriage, couples must:

Undergo premarital counseling from a clergy member or a licensed counselor.
Sign a Declaration of Intent, affirming their commitment to a lifelong marriage.
Agree to seek further counseling if they encounter marital problems.

5. What are the acceptable grounds for divorce in a covenant marriage?

In a covenant marriage, acceptable grounds for divorce include:

Adultery
Physical or sexual abuse
Abandonment for a specified period
Long-term separation (typically one to two years, depending on the state)

6. Can a couple convert their traditional marriage into a covenant marriage?

In some states that offer covenant marriage, couples can convert their existing traditional marriage into a covenant marriage. This usually requires the couple to undergo counseling and sign the necessary declarations to reaffirm their commitment under the covenant marriage framework.

7. What is the purpose of the premarital counseling required for covenant marriage?

Premarital counseling for covenant marriage aims to prepare couples for the realities of married life, ensuring they understand the seriousness of their commitment. It covers topics such as communication skills, conflict resolution, financial planning, and the responsibilities of both spouses.

8. Is covenant marriage a religious concept?

While covenant marriage has strong roots in religious principles, particularly within Christian communities, it is not exclusively religious. It is a legal framework available to any couple willing to adhere to its stricter requirements and principles, regardless of their religious beliefs.

9. What are the benefits of choosing a covenant marriage?

The benefits of covenant marriage include:

Enhanced commitment and seriousness about the marital relationship.
Improved communication and problem-solving skills through mandatory counseling.
Potentially lower divorce rates and increased family stability.

10. Are there any disadvantages to covenant marriage?

Some potential disadvantages of covenant marriage include:

Limited availability, as it is only offered in a few states.

Stricter divorce requirements that may trap individuals in unhealthy or abusive relationships.

Cultural and religious overtones that may not align with the beliefs of all couples.

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