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Breaking The Marriage Contract

Breaking The Marriage Contract

Hmm this is thought provoking. What are your thoughts on this? Does what Jesse says about marriage not being only a contract but a covenant, resonate with you?

by Jesse Birkey | Staff Writer for

Eleven years ago, I looked down at my wife Kara as she smiled up at me. Her white gown shimmered like sunlight on water, and her eyes reflected hope in a future that would certainly unfold in unpredictable ways.

I heard the minister’s voice but had trouble discerning the words. Something about marriage and love and other appropriate wedding jargon. I shifted under the weight of hundreds of eyes. I was acutely aware of my damp palms and tingling toes.

Before I knew it, the ceremony was over. I was kissing the bride and walking towards the exit into a life I was supposed to share with my bride. If only I’d known what that really meant back then.

We have become a contract-oriented society. Business agreements are not made in faith but in words and signatures. I see the need for that. It’s not like it used to be where one would make an agreement with another, slaughter a goat, and promise the same fate if the agreement was violated. I’m thankful for that; I’m sure goats are as well.

But what about relationships? Should we approach our relationships, specifically marriages, with a contract mentality? Regardless of your answer to that question, the fact is that the majority of us do enter into marriage with a contract mentality. Consider the following:

When you got married did you feel…

That you owe your spouse sex whenever they want?
That certain chores around the house are your spouse’s responsibility?
That you should have a meal prepared when your spouse walks in the door?
That working is your spouse’s responsibility?
That dealing with the kids is mainly your spouse’s responsibility?
That whoever makes the money rules the money?

These and more are all components of a contract mindset. When we say “I do,” we mentally attach our spouse to all of the things we feel are requirements in a marriage. Many of these things we learn from our parents and society, and they can be different for each person. The mentality for each of us is the same: “when you married me, you agreed to all of my requirements, and if you fail the contract is null and void.”

Marriage is not a contract

The DNA of marriage is covenant. If we go back to Genesis 2:24, we see that marriage is becoming one flesh. You don’t have to like the Bible to see the value of that mentality. Covenant is sharing in someone’s life. When we get married, we are agreeing to become one flesh with our spouse, and therein we are melding our life to theirs.

Kara and I are not married today because we stood up in front of people and stumbled through vows. Kara and I are married today because we consistently make the choice to share in each other’s lives. My marriage to Kara is only as good as the extent to which I honor my vow to share in her life on a moment-by-moment basis.

“…So what we all have is a marriage of the heart. To sully or contaminate or radically disrespect this union with a shameful contract is something that I will leave to the amateurs and the Bible grippers.” -Charlie Sheen

Figures Charlie Sheen would drop some wisdom on marriage. Contracts are for people who want a way out. Is that how you want to live in your marriage?

I understand that it takes both parties to have a successful marriage. But your spouse not being interested in sharing in your life doesn’t mean you can’t share in theirs as it’s appropriate to do so. It’s not easy, but if you can model the light, the darkness will begin to fade.

Jesse and Kara Birkey

Jesse and Kara live in Tampa Bay, Florida with their two amazing kids. Jesse is a Firefighter/Paramedic and author while Kara is a part time Assistant and full time Wife and Mommy. They are both passionate about marriage and family and helping others succeed where they’ve failed.