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Book Review: Covenant Hearts: Marriage and the Joy of Human Love

Covenant Hearts cover

On our four year anniversary, I blogged briefly about Covenant Hearts: Marriage and the Joy of Human Love by Bruce C. Hafen. Even though Hafen is a Latter-Day Saint and I was raised Southern Baptist, I enjoyed Covenant Hearts because it enhanced my understanding of marriage, its commitments, and its social responsibilities.

Hafen organizes the book into four sections: Losing the Plot, Personal Covenants, Social Covenants, and the conclusion, which includes an epilogue from his wife. The Personal Covenants section is by far the largest, housing 14 chapters and almost 150 pages.

He relies heavily on a variety of sources, many from within the Mormon faith (elders, presidents, and just regular church members), but just as many from outside the church (including scholarly studies, newspapers, and books). This did interfere a little bit with my enjoyment of the book because, as a writing teacher, I have told semester after semester of students not to let your sources speak for you, and Hafen borders on this.

Hafen covers a wide variety of marriage related topics, everything from the state of marriage in the U.S. (although he does use examples from the time he spent in Australia and cites statistics from around the world), to the social ramifications of both marriage and gay marriage laws, to the joys of marriage, as promised by the title. Even though I did not agree with everything he preaches or understand every doctrinal issue he discussed, I recommend this book for married people of all religions.

Covenant Hearts celebrates marriage and the true happiness that comes from making a covenant commitment to your spouse. For Mormons, this means being sealed to each other in the temple “for time and all eternity.” For non-Mormons, Hafen explains that covenant commitments are based on the attitudes each person brings to the commitment they are making: If both people enter the marriage truly committing their entire lives to each other, with divorce not ever an option, truly for better or worse, when it’s fun and when it’s not, they have a covenant marriage, even though the Mormon church does not believe these marriages will endure past death.

As I expected from what I knew about the Latter-Day Saints, Hafen emphasizes the importance of family. Especially because of my background, I appreciated hearing religious support of a sincere focus on the family. It has sparked many conversations between Rob and I about how we need to make sure that our main focus is always on inside the home, and not on our careers, extracurricular activities, and hobbies.

Since I borrowed this book from Christina and could not highlight and Post-it Note it up, I copied my favorite quotes into a Google Doc. If you’d like to get a preview of this book, just click here.


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