Covenant marriage is more than a simple contract to be broken at will. A covenant marriage is one in which the husband and wife are bound by covenants to help each other grow and reach their individual potential. A covenant marriage is one in which each companion gives 100 percent to the marriage.
Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Quorum of Seventy states, “Marriage is by nature a covenant, not just a private contract one may cancel at will. Jesus taught about contractual attitudes when he described the `hireling,’ who performs his conditional promise of care only when he receives something in return. When the hireling `seeth the wolf coming,’ he `leaveth the sheep, and fleeth … because he … careth not for the sheep.’ By contrast, the Savior said, `I am the good shepherd, … and I lay down my life for the sheep’ (John 10:12-15). Many people today marry as hirelings. And when the wolf comes, they flee. This idea is wrong. It curses the earth, turning parents’ hearts away from their children and from each other (Doctrine and Covenants 2).
What are the “wolves” that threaten marriage? Elder Hafen describes them as being (1) natural adversity – things that happen simply because we are human, (2) personal imperfections – weaknesses, faults, and (3) excessive individualism – selfishness.
Elder Hafen further explains, “The adversary has long cultivated this overemphasis on personal autonomy, and ow he feverishly exploits it. Our deepest God-give instinct is to run to the arms of those who need us and sustain us. But he drives us away from each other today with wedges of distrust and suspicion. He exaggerates the need for having space, getting out, and being left alone. Some people believe him – and then they wonder why they feel left alone…. When we observe the covenants we make at the altar of sacrifice, we discover hidden reservoirs of strength.” (See Bruce C. Hafen, “Covenant Marriage,” Ensign, November 1996.)
How are you doing in your marriage? Are you a “hireling” in your marriage, ready to flee at the first sign of trouble? Do you consider your marriage to be a covenant, and are you giving 100 percent to your marriage? I encourage you to treat your marriage as a sacred, three-way covenant between husband, wife, and God. As husband and wife each draw closer to God, they automatically draw closer to each other. Healthy and happy marriages can happen when each partner forgets themselves and works for the good of the marriage.