Marriage is often said to be a partnership - but it is not a 50:50 partnership. Partnerships (like marriage) can be simple oral agreements, but marriage is more than that. It is a covenant. Or it should be.

In law, contracts and covenants are not the same things. Here are some fundamental differences:

  • While a contract is legally binding, a covenant is a spiritual agreement.
  • A contract is an agreement between parties while a covenant is a pledge.
  • A contract is an agreement you can break while a covenant is a perpetual promise.
  • You seal a covenant while you sign a contract.
  • A contract is a mutually beneficial relationship while a covenant is something you fulfil.
  • A contract exchanges one good for another, while a covenant is giving oneself to the other.
  • You can opt-out of a contract while a covenant is about having the strengths to hold up your part of the promise.
  • One can stop paying in a contract when one party is not fulling their part in a deal. However, in a covenant, the party not getting their needs me supports the failing party so that they can meet their obligations.

Overall a covenant is a better way to build relationships both in business and in life. In a contract, if a person does not fulfil his obligation, then it gives the other party to back out as well. The same is not true in a covenant. You must hold up your promise even if others do not hold up their pledge.

Covenants are a type of contract, but they do not work like a contract. They are a trust-based promise that relies on your integrity and discipline. While contracts are enforceable by the courts, covenants depend on your values.

Legal marriage and de facto marriage can both be seen as a partnership or a covenant. It's the latter that is important. Although our wedding was fairly traditional, the covenant aspect was one I did not fully understand. But I'm so glad we never saw it as a partnership.