I’ve invested a lot of time and energy trying to figure out why some couples can stay committed to each other “for better or for worse,” and other couples crumble. What’s the “secret ingredient” that keeps couples together?
There are obviously many factors that contribute to each marriage, but I’m convinced that the couples who thrive aren’t just “lucky” or strong; they’ve intentionally adopted a different kind of mentality. They view marriage through a completely different perspective. They’ve adopted a “Covenant Marriage.”
There are two mindsets in modern marriage: “Contract Marriages” and “Covenant Marriages.” Those who keep a Covenant mindset will almost never fail and those who keep a Contract mindset will almost never succeed.
So, which one describes your marriage? The points below will help you determine whether you have a Contract marriage or a Covenant marriage.
I strongly encourage you to adjust your thinking and behavior to take on the Covenant mindset in your marriage. It’s the way God intended marriage to be (and yes, marriage was God’s invention. Divorce was mankind’s invention.)
Here are 7 ways to shift your thinking towards a “Covenant Marriage” mindset:
1. In a covenant marriage, you’ll be focused on your spouse’s rights. In a contract marriage, you’ll be focused on your own rights.
When you were married, the government considered it a contract, but God considers it a covenant. A contract is a document between two people which is based on distrust. It has escape clauses. It’s designed to protect your own rights. A covenant requires laying down your own rights for the sake of the one you love. Their rights become your priority.
2. In a covenant marriage, you choose to love and respect your spouse even when they don’t “deserve it.” In a contract marriage, you give your spouse the treatment you believe he or she deserves.
Love isn’t really love if it’s conditional. Marital love is based on commitment, not behavior. This is one of the toughest parts of marriage, but we must choose to give our spouse the best of ourself even when they’re at their worst. Your spouse usually needs your love most in those moments when they “deserve it” least. God loves us even when we’re completely unlovable, and He calls us to love each other in the same way. It’s the only way a marriage can work.
3. In a covenant marriage, there’s no “escape clause.” In a contract marriage, divorce is always an option.
A marriage can’t survive with the constant threat of divorce. The couples who make it (Covenant marriages) aren’t the ones who never had a reason to get divorced. They’re simply the ones who decide their commitment to each other is always going to be bigger than their differences or flaws.
4. In a covenant marriage, there’s no “keeping score” of each other mistakes. In a contract marriage, there’s no forgetting each other’s mistakes.
Grace and forgiveness must flow freely in a healthy marriage. Past mistakes can’t be used as ammunition in future disagreements.
5. In a covenant marriage, couples work with mutual respect through disagreement. In contract marriages, individuals try to “win” the argument against their spouse.
In marriage, there will never be a “winner” and a “loser” in your disagreements. You’re partners in everything, so you will always win together or lose together.
6. In a covenant marriage, couples believe their marriage is primarily about serving. In a contract marriage, couples believe marriage is about “getting.”
Selfishness destroys marriages. Nearly every cause of divorce is rooted in selfishness. If you believe your marriage’s purpose is to make you “happy,” you’ll never truly be satisfied. If you believe your marriage’s purpose is to honor God, serve your spouse and change the world in partnership with your spouse, you’re much more likely to find “happiness” and purpose in your marriage.
7. In a covenant marriage, couples believe their marriage is a sacred partnership. In contract marriages, couples believe their relationship is a legal partnership.
Couples who know God is the foundation of their bond find the faith are usually more likely to work through challenges together. If you believe your marriage is nothing more than a legal document, chances are much greater you’ll eventually have another legal document called a certificate of divorce.