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The Images of Marriage -- Four Different Perceptions

What is Your Image of Marriage?

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There are four general images of marriage. Your perception of marriage will be based on your own family history and your own experiences.

Image/Perception 1 -- Contract:

The first image of marriage is that of contract. Civil law speaks of marriage as a contract.

Though this is a minimal interpretation of the meaning of marriage, there are contractual aspects in every marriage such as effective negotiation and renegotiation. It is critical that you are open to having ongoing communication about your expectations and roles in marriage.

Image/Perception 2 -- Covenant:

The second image is that of covenant. This image of an unbreakable bond is borrowed from the Old Testament.

The Jewish people saw their bond with God as a covenant and eventually they applied this image to their marriages and challenged themselves to be faithful in love with and for each other.

Image/Perception 3 -- Sacrament:

The third image is that of sacrament. In the Catholic tradition, St. Augustine was among the first to mention sacramentality in relation to marriage.

There are two aspects of sacrament: "sign" and "vow". Through the vow to be for and with one another forever, a couple becomes a sign of God's unconditional love in the world.

Image/Perception 4 -- Friendship:

The fourth image is one of friendship. Considered by many to be the most important image. If you accept this image of marriage, then all the things you believe about friendship and how you treat friends should apply to your spouse.

You should not only be lovers, you should be friends.

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