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18 Notre Dame J.L. Ethics & Pub. Pol'y 137 (2004)


In this piece, we will first provide an analysis of covenant as we see it. We will continue with an original empirical test of whether covenant relationships differ from others, based upon new data from Louisiana, which offers both covenant and standard marriages. What we will try to argue and prove is that, even granting the differences between couples who choose covenant marriages from those who do not, something special happens to the relationship itself, or the spouses in it, when they choose the covenant marriage option. We conclude by relating what we have found to the more common choice couples make today: whether to marry or to cohabit. Not all of what makes cohabiting relationships less successful than marriages not preceded by cohabitation is a question of differences in the couples beforehand (the selection effect). The more covenantal the relationship, the more the couple changes in relationship-enhancing ways.

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