Is your marriage like a contract, with expectations and obligations? If it is, your marriage might be suffering because of it!
Typical expectations husbands might have of their wives.
- Cook the meals
- Keep the house clean, neat, and decorated.
- Clean the clothes.
- Take care of the children.
- Romance (mostly sex).
Typical expectations wives might have of their husbands.
- Primary provider for the family—a comfortable lifestyle.
- House and automobile maintenance.
- Help with household chores and cooking.
- Romance (primarily special attention and intimacy).
- Help with the children.
Marriage is viewed from a somewhat self-centered perspective. Our rights as a husband or wife become the focal point of the relationship. Airing our grievances and claiming our entitlements seem to rise to the top.
If our spouse fails to meet our expectations or requirements separation and divorce become the accepted alternative?
Of the 80 to 90 percent who get married, many have repeated, or will repeat, the following words to our spouse during our wedding ceremony.
“I take thee to be my lawfully wedded spouse, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, ’til death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance and thereto I pledge thee my troth.”
Though the language may appear archaic or even foreign to us, the commitment remains pertinent for couples today. The significance of the words does not, however, take on personal value until we are the ones standing before the pastor, county clerk, family, friends, and “these witnesses” repeating them to the one standing in front of us. In repeating these words to our spouse-to-be, we are making a vow to God and to them. Even then, it is the relationship that has been formed prior to our wedding day that gives significance to the words being spoken.
Those of us who have repeated a vow such as this to our spouse in a wedding ceremony can attest to the fact that even though we loved our spouse, we didn’t fully understand the implications or magnitude of what we were saying when we repeated our wedding vows.
Though our intentions are good when we marry, we have no perception of the depth of unconditional love necessary to uphold the commitments to which we are agreeing. Our promises have not been tried and tested by time and turmoil.
Too many people today view marriage as a legal contract. Contracts are based on rights and responsibilities and are motivated by self-centeredness rather than unconditional love. A legal contract is necessary to begin, and likewise to end, a marriage, but a covenant is more than a contract. It is more than a legal document declaring a state of interdependence.
The value of a “covenant marriage relationship” as opposed to a “contractual marriage agreement” lies in a person’s understanding and acceptance of God’s intent for marriage and the importance of His presence in the marriage.