Kendel Christensen's Reviews > Covenant Hearts: Marriage and the Joy of Human Love

Covenant Hearts by Bruce C. Hafen
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it was amazing
bookshelves: will-read-repeatedly
Recommended to Kendel by: My Mother
Recommended for: Anyone who wants to live a happier, more fulfilling life

This was the perfect Sunday read and kept me enthralled for weeks. A must-read in my opinion. Brother Hafen has insights to life and marriage that are remarkably deep and complex... yet summarized and presented in very simple, natural way. Truly remarkable. I can't quote some of his more complex thoughts, but here are some of my favorite quotable parts of this book:

“A happy life isn't about getting what you want; it's about the attitude you develop toward whatever happens to you.”
(Bruce C. Hafen, Covenant Hearts, Deseret Book: [Salt Lake City, 2005] p.89)

“Whether we "strive" to make the marriage work may be the most important ingredient in whether it does work. As President Spencer W. Kimball taught, marriage is never easy:
"Happiness does not come by pressing a button. . . . It must be earned. . . .
"One comes to realize very soon after the marriage that the spouse has weaknesses not previously revealed or discovered. The virtues which were constantly magnified during courtship now grow relatively smaller, and the weaknesses that seemed so small and insignificant during courtship now grow to sizeable proportions. . . . The habits of years now show themselves. . . .
"Often there is an unwillingness to settle down and to assume the heavy responsibilities that immediately are there. . . .
"[Still,] while marriage is difficult, and discordant and frustrated marriages are common, yet real, lasting happiness is possible, and marriage can be more an exultant ecstasy than the human mind can conceive. This is within the reach of every couple, every person . . . if both are willing to pay the price."30
Because this is a true principle, the survivability, the happiness, even the "exultant ecstasy" that is possible in a marriage may depend—more than it depends on any other single thing—on whether spouses (and their family and community) expect their marriage to succeed. ”
(30.Kimball, Marriage and Divorce, 12–16; italics added; or "Marriage and Divorce" (address); see also Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 305. President Gordon B. Hinckley has similarly said, "There is no greater happiness than is found in the most meaningful of all human relationships—the companionships of husband and wife and parents and children." "Marriage That Endures," 4.)
(Bruce C. Hafen, Covenant Hearts, Deseret Book: [Salt Lake City, 2005] p.47-48)

“Don't try to make him into what you want him to be. You fell in love with what he is. He will still grow. But you'll learn from experience to trust what he does rather than jumping to negative conclusions when you don't understand something.
I don't agree with whoever said don't go to sleep when you're upset. Most things that have me upset by bedtime aren't really a problem by morning. We all have moods; we all get tired. A good night's sleep really helps.
I agree with Sister Marjorie Hinckley. Someone asked her the secret of her happy marriage, and she said, "I lowered my expectations."
I have found that, as a mother, my spiritual mood really does set the spiritual tone for my home. If I'm stressed, my kids are stressed, my husband is stressed. So I try to control myself more than I try to control others.
Communicate. Say what you're thinking, in a kind way. Don't make the other person read your mind, and don't let unspoken things build up until some event triggers a reaction that's out of proportion.
Up to now, your first question has naturally been "what is best for me"—how to use your time, money, school, work, whatever. But after your wedding, the biggest question is, "What is best for our marriage, our family?" And that is a very hard thing to learn.
As you hear all this advice, remember that each couple is unique, so different things work for different people. But whatever you do, show in every action that your spouse has the highest priority in your life. If one of you does things that suggest you give higher priority to other things or other people, that undercuts the confidence your marriage has to have. ”
(Bruce C. Hafen, Covenant Hearts, Deseret Book: [Salt Lake City, 2005] p.71-72)

“Consider the general distinction between contractual and covenant attitudes toward marriage. One bride sighed blissfully on her wedding day, "Mom, I'm at the end of all my troubles!"
"Yes," replied her mother, "but at which end?"
When troubles come, the parties to a contractual marriage seek happiness by walking away. They marry to obtain benefits and will stay only as long as they're receiving what they bargained for.
But when troubles come to a covenant marriage, the husband and wife work them through. They marry to give and to grow, bound by covenants to each other, to the community, and to God. Contract companions each give 50 percent. But covenant companions each give 100 percent. Enough and to spare. Each gives enough to cover any shortfall by the other. Double coverage. Because their covenant is unqualified, they simply plan on solving their problems together—whatever trouble comes, no matter what it is, how long it takes, or what it costs. ”
(Bruce C. Hafen, Covenant Hearts, Deseret Book: [Salt Lake City, 2005] p.77)

“Good marriages (and the individual growth of each marriage partner) actually thrive on a couple's ability to share gentle and loving correction with each other when needed. Most of us are not always aware of our weaknesses or the way we affect other people. We need the help of an honest, caring spouse to provide corrective vision for our blind spots. That correction helps most when we really extend ourselves to communicate with kindness and a charitable spirit.
So whether our suggestions help or hurt our partner (and our marriage) usually depends on the way we choose to give advice, not on whether we give it at all.”
(Bruce C. Hafen, Covenant Hearts, Deseret Book: [Salt Lake City, 2005] p.111)

“American writer Wendell Berry once described why relatives and friends come so gladly to wedding receptions. These happy gatherings have the feel of a community event—because that's what they are: "Marriage [is] not just a bond between two people but a bond between those two people and their forebears, their children, and their neighbors." Therefore, Berry continues: "Lovers must not . . . live for themselves alone. . . . They say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and on its own. It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is. These lovers . . . are giving themselves away, and they are joined by this as no law or contract could ever join them. Lovers, then, 'die' into their union with one another as a soul 'dies' into its union with God. . . . If the community cannot protect this giving, it can protect nothing. . . . It is the fundamental connection without which nothing holds, and trust is its necessity." 14

Picture the community silently saying to the new couple, "We need your marriage to succeed—for our sake!" And picture the new couple silently saying to the community, "We need your support to help us succeed—for our sake!"

Most people in the past understood Berry's insight enough to know that shattered families would damage children and parents and thus destabilize society. That's why G. K. Chesterton once remarked that we should "regard a system that produces many divorces as we do a system that drives men to drown or shoot themselves."15

The need to protect children from this kind of harm was traditionally the basis for the idea that marriage is a social institution, not just a private partnership—because "marriage brings into being an organization to serve interests beyond those of [the husband and wife]"such as those of "the children of that marriage, the extended family," and society at large. "Marriage is the principal institution for raising children. . . . If it is undermined, children will suffer and are suffering. In the end, society and the state will be afflicted and are being afflicted."16 ”
14.Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community, 125, 137–39; italics added.
15.Chesterton, "Superstition of Divorce," Collected Works, 4:239.
16.Moir, "New Class of Disadvantaged Children," 63 n. 2, 65; italics omitted.
(Bruce C. Hafen, Covenant Hearts, Deseret Book: [Salt Lake City, 2005] p.42-43)

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Reading Progress

April 6, 2011 – Started Reading
April 6, 2011 – Shelved
June 5, 2011 – Finished Reading
June 8, 2011 – Shelved as: will-read-repeatedly

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Dustin Flanary Thanks for your review. It got me to purchase the book which I am now reading and greatly enjoying.

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