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Covenant Marriage: My Advice

Dear Readers:

Today I deliver the advice promised in Monday’s blog on “covenant marriage.”

In case you missed it due to a power outage or hospitalization, you can read that here:

Covenant Marriage: She Wants One, He’s Not So Sure.

For those too lazy to click, here was the question from Bill, our hapless Arizonan:

“Long story short: I’m getting married in January next year and my fiancee wants a covenant marriage but I’m not sure if I do.

We are both finishing graduate school and more than ready after dating since college to get married.  She comes from a pretty religious family and I don’t.  I’m not even sure why I am balking at the idea of the covenant marriage but something just seems weird about it.

You can probably guess this conversation started an unpleasant fight between us and she doesn’t understand why I am hesitating to sign up for this.  My question for you is have you seen these before and do they work better than a regular marriage?  Do you have any suggestions for reasoning with her if I decide I don’t want to do this?”

Dear Bill:

As you know, Monday I delivered my opinion on the covenant marriage, a marriage available in the three notoriously oppressive states of Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana.  In sum, here’s how I feel about it:


It’s not that I don’t think people should make a solid commitment to work on a marriage before throwing in the towel, I just think it’s extremely unwise to ask the government to manage your commitments for you.

In fact, it’s not just unwise: it shows a lack of trust in one’s own convictions and of course a lack of trust in one’s partner’s convictions as well.  

A “covenant marriage” is the relationship equivalent of Antabuse.  These statutes eradicate the years of progress we’ve made in achieving “no fault” divorce in each state.  The covenant marriage demands we litigate fault in a divorce: a dicey, expensive and humiliating proposal indeed considering the complexity of human relationships.

You emailed me a few more details that raised my in-need-of-a-wax eyebrows:

  • Despite your original email to me, you have struggled with whether or not you are truly ready to get married.  You proposed to her under a lot of pressure from your fiancee and her mom that took the form of repeated comments about how long you’d been together and “isn’t it time to get married?” questions.  How romantic!
  • Her mother came up the idea and is pushing for it hard.  Not coincidentally at all, her father left her mother two years ago and announced he had been miserable for years.
  • As you mentioned, when you balked your lady was pissed.  Since that conversation she has dug in her heels and is adamant that she wants a covenant marriage or, as she put it, “we won’t get married at all.”  Thank goddess for small favors.
  • You are also having disagreements about where you want to eventually reside.  You now live in Arizona and you are planning a January wedding there (your fiancee’s family is from Phoenix) but you’d like to end up on the East Coast, while she would prefer to remain in the Southwest.
  • You are both finishing graduate school but neither of you has secured a job as of today.  That is causing a lot of stress.
  • She bought a puppy without telling you.

Readers are probably wondering why I included that last bullet point, because at first blush it may not seem like a big deal.  Puppies are adorable!

That’s true, but you live in a small apartment and you are both pursuing challenging careers that will almost certainly lead you first to move and then to work long hours.

Purchasing a pet is a huge decision for a family and the fact she went ahead and did it without your knowledge and consent, especially given the facts listed in the paragraph immediately preceeding this one, is not good.


Bill, I’m going to be very direct with you:

Postpone this wedding.  I see nothing but trouble in your future if you go through with it.

At the very least, postpone the wedding until the puppy is house-trained, you have both secured employment in whatever city you decide upon, and until your fiancee grows up and realizes she can’t get what she wants in life through pouting and threats.

Here’s your script, should you accept it.  You may want to wear some nut protection when you deliver this speech:

Robin DesCamp Script for the Covenant-Marriage-Wanting, Puppy-Purchasing Brat

I’ve done a lot of thinking about the covenant marriage idea and I’m not willing to do it.  When we get married I intend to make a covenant to you stronger than any that could be mandated by the government.  I am secure in the knowledge marriage is a huge step I wouldn’t take if I didn’t believe I would put my all into our relationship and fight for it like a warrior when it is in trouble.  My word should be enough for you, as yours is for me.

There is a reason only three states have these statutes, honey.  They demand an ugly and litigious end to a marriage and I don’t want to sign up for it. The other 47 states give citizens the benefit of the doubt on who should control their lives as between the government and the individual.

We are entering a very dicey time in our lives as we transition into real adulthood.  We are starting new careers, moving, and thanks to you, we are the parents of a god-damned puppy who pissed on my iPhone this morning.  Robin DesCamp tells me starting a marriage under these circumstances, especially when you have told me you’d break the engagement if I don’t agree to a covenant marriage, is foolhardy.

Let’s focus on deciding where we are going to live and getting good jobs.  I would like to postpone the wedding until we have been in a more stable place for at least six months.  I am not adverse to getting married in Arizona, but I won’t take part in the covenant marriage.  I hope you understand.  I love you.  Here, have a cookie.

How she reacts to this message will tell you more about this woman than anything she’s ever showed you about herself.  

PLEASE write to me and let me know how you decide to handle this and what she says if you follow my advice in postponing the wedding.

Waiting on your response with great anticipation,



This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. If she'd get a puppy without asking . . . .

    And be really, really sure that you are using excellent birth control now!

  2. Isaac Laquedem

    I am reading a lot into the few details of Bill’s relationship with his prospective mother-in-law, but it strikes me that if Bill should marry his fiancée, he had better be prepared for mother-in-law inviting herself over for Sunday dinner every week.

  3. A Loyal Fan

    Best Movie, ever! Also, excellent advice. Come to think of it, I think my first wife brought home a puppy without letting me have any say in the matter; it nicely set the tone for rest of the marriage, too.

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