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Covenant marriage is a relatively new (and fortunately unpopular) idea promoted by some American social conservatives to make traditional marriage possible and to combat the rising tide of divorce. It is aimed at people who long for permanent life-long marriage without the instability of break-ups or divorces. The concept basically involves adding a clause to marriage contracts to nullify the now-legal availability of "no fault" divorce, forcing unhappy couples either to assault one another or to engage in adultery in order to obtain a divorce.
This is a bad idea for obvious reasons. One former wife claims her husband pressured her into a covenant marriage, then tried for a long time — successfully — to use the covenant to keep her in an abusive marriage, similar to how abusive boyfriends often manipulate their girlfriends not to report abuse. Like we couldn't have seen that coming.
As one blogger observed, "Making it harder to get divorced is like making it harder to open a fire escape: By the time people get to the point of using it, the damage is already done. Time to let them out."
Fortunately, as of 2018, only four states allow covenant marriage: Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, and Louisiana. (However, most covenant-marriage advocates don't consider Arizona's to really be covenant marriage, because it still allows for mutual dissolution of the marriage.) In none of these states is covenant marriage mandatory, though Mike Huckabee did everything he could to promote it in Arkansas, even getting his own marriage "upgraded". It's been proposed in almost every other state, though, without passing or (usually) even getting to a vote.
It's a good thing California doesn't recognize covenant marriage, because the only two legal grounds for divorce in California are irreconcilable differences (i.e. a no-fault divorce) and incurable insanity.
- Mike Johnson — another covenant marriage proponent