Hello, HOPE-lovers and welcome to Transformation Tuesday!

Today, we’re continuing to look at “5 Reasons Why Marriages Don’t Work” presented to us by USA TODAY sex columnist, Anthony D’Ambrosio.


Last time (see How To Make Marriages Work), we started to analyze our contract-driven world and investigate the difference between contract and covenant.

Contracts, negotiated agreements between two or more parties, are all over the place.  Anywhere there is money transacting, you can be sure that a contract is involved.

In a world where handshakes carry little to no weight, they are a vital part of business and security.  Contracts bring assurance, guaranteeing that persons and businesses will live up to their claims, signified through signatures.  And if necessary, predetermined outcomes will be forced upon the failing party through legal action.

We live in a contract-oriented society.


Contracts are based on protection due to mistrust. They allow the those involved to look for loop holes.

So if we are a contract-driven world, where does this leave interpersonal relationships like marriage?  Surely, these involve finances.

Is marriage to be subject only to these legal agreements of mistrust?

Is love, culminating in the bond of marriage, simply just another “business” transaction?

Is there not more promise than a prenuptial?  Can we not obtain a firmer foundation than planning for failure?

As I mentioned last time, the Scriptures provide a much deeper, more beautiful, secure picture for marriage: covenant.  And although a covenant may involve contracts (as our society requires), there is an extreme difference between the two.

To illustrate those differences, we looked at excerpts from Gary Chapman, Ph.D. (see

4 characteristics of contracts:

1. Contracts are often made for a limited period of time.

“Till death do us part,” vs. “We’re committed so long as it’s beneficial.”

2. Contracts often deal with specific actions.

Conditional love and faithfulness.

3. Contracts are based on an “If…, then…,” mentality.

Eye for an eye.  Reactionary.

4. Contracts are motivated by the desire to get something.

Self-focused. Taking.

5 characteristics of covenants:

1. Covenants are initiated for the benefit of the other person.

Selfless, self-sacrificing.

2. In covenant relationships people make unconditional promises.

Unconditional promises (those spoken in traditional wedding vows) vs. Conditional agreements.

3. Covenant relationships are based on steadfast love.

Steadfast love refuses to focus on the negative aspects of one’s spouse. Steadfast love is a choice.

4. Covenant relationships view commitments as permanent.

The prenuptial agreement here is “till death do us part.”

5. Covenant relationships require confrontation and forgiveness.

Confrontation fosters accountability, truth, and responsibility.  Forgiving is a willingness to lift the penalty and continue a loving, growing relationship (this is not ignoring the wrongs!).


To further illustrate the difference, the following was taken from

Contract: I take you for me. vs. Covenant: I give myself to you.

Contract: You better do it! vs. Covenant: How may I serve you?

Contract: What do I get? vs. Covenant: What can I give?

Contract: I’ll meet you halfway. vs. Covenant: I’ll give you 100% plus.

Contract: I have to. vs. Covenant: I want to.

Remember the traditional wedding vows?

I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.

Will you have this woman/man to be your wife/husband, to live together in holy marriage?  Will you love her/him, comfort her/him, honor, and keep her/him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her/him as long as you both shall live?

What does this language sound like?  Does it sound like a negotiable, conditional contract based on mistrust?

This is serious stuff!  Perhaps this is why so many opt out of the marriage relationship?  It truly is the fiercest form of service on the planet.

So, we have to decide: Are we givers or takers?  Are we servants or entitled?  Are we all-in or conditional?  Is marriage a privilege or a chore?

My HOPE4Hipsters:

Marriage is the bedrock for family and society.  Simple awareness of history fleshes that reality out.

Regardless of our experience, mindset, or background (secular or religious), we must honestly assess how we view and treat marriage.  Why?  Because our view of marriage is actually our view of everything!

So, is love and marriage just a contract?  Is this how you envisioned love growing up?  Is this the storyline we pay to watch a million times?

My goal in life, not just marriage, is to be a person of my word.  Committed.

I want to be all-in.

I want to be a blessing to all I encounter.

I hate leading with mistrust towards others.  It divides and poisons.

I want to be accountable and teachable because there’s always something to learn and improve upon!

I want to forgive because I recognize how desperately I need to be forgiven.

What about you?

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