Covenant or Contract
When we get married, our vision for marriage is a to have a covenant relationship. We are making a promise. We recite vows. We promise to be there. We promise to love unconditionally. We promise in sickness and in health. We are not signing a contract, we are making a promise. We are reciting a covenant that comes from the depth of our heart. This covenant feels right. This covenant feels holy. This covenant feels ordained.
But something happens to most marriages over time. The unconditional love we promised, starts being conditional. The list of things we loved about our spouse slowly drifts to a list of things that irritate us. We aren’t getting what we are putting in. This isn’t what we signed up for. This isn’t what we agreed to. Our covenant relationship has slowly become a contractual agreement.
Here are some signs your marriage is more of a contract than a covenant:
You are so disappointed in who your spouse is that you compare them with someone else. You wish they were more handy like so and so’s husband. You wish they could cook like so and so’s wife. You compare them with someone you work with…they don’t listen that well, understand you that much. The comparison game is a dangerous one to play.
2. If-Then Relationship
You will take out the trash if she will do the laundry. You will pick up the kids from school if she will let get off your back about going golfing. There are conditions attached to sexual intimacy. Conditions attached to time spent together. You keep score and you usually win. No one wins in the if-then marriage. You can never do enough.
3. Walking on Egg-Shells
When you are in a contractual marriage you are constantly worried about starting a fight. You walk on egg shells when you get home from work. You walk on egg shells on the weekends. You’re goal is to get through a day, a weekend, a week without an argument. You know your spouses hot buttons and do everything you can to not push them.
4. Score Keeping
In a contractual marriage you always know the score. You know how many times you’ve served them; you’ve given in; you’ve said you’re sorry; you’ve not gotten you way. You keep score of purchases; arguments and times you’ve given something against your will. Your desire isn’t to experience intimacy with your spouse, but to win the score keeping game. (There is no winner in a score keeping marriage.)
God’s vision for your marriage is a covenant not a contract. He longs to have your relationship with your spouse mirror His relationship with you. When you least deserved it, He sacrificed for you. A covenant is an unconditional promise that has no end.
Maybe the best thing you can do for your marriage today is evaluate which type of relationship you have and which type do you want to have.