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Covenants key to successful marriages, say BYU professors

Despite the claims of many marriage manuals lining the shelves at bookstores, couples should consider covenants, not just communication, when looking to improve their relationships, according to two Brigham Young University professors.

Douglas Brinley, professor of Church history and doctrine, and Daniel Judd, chair and associate professor of ancient scripture, believe couples would do better to use doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to build a solid foundation for a successful marriage.

"Focusing on application rather than doctrine is where I think we're failing," Brinley said. "The Gospel takes a different approach to marriage than the world does."

Brinley and Judd are the editors of a new book, "Living a Covenant Marriage," that examines ways to emphasize Gospel principles in achieving a successful marriage.

For example, the first chapter of the book highlights the differences between a covenant marriage and a contractual marriage. Elder Bruce C. Hafen, a member of the First Quorum of Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ, adapted his General Conference address for the chapter.

Brinley said that, while professors and counseling professionals extensively discuss the issue of communication, Church leaders do not often speak about it.

"Communication is not the problem," Brinley said. "The problem is that you've gotten hard-hearted, or you've forgotten your covenants, or you've forgotten you can be married forever. You've gotten away from what brought you together in the first place."

Brinley said the academic approach has much value, but the gospel adds more fulfillment to marital and family relationships.

Said Judd, "I hope people will take the restoration seriously as it applies to their marriage and family relationships, not just viewing it as something we do on Sunday, but as a way of life that can have tremendous, profound influences in our lives."

In order to support the doctrinal basis, Brinley and Judd gathered contributions that focus on having Jesus Christ as a sure foundation, ministering to each other, keeping marital love alive, why divorce is often not the best option, resolving differences, the plague of pornography and marital intimacy.

Contributors to the book include Marleen S. Williams, Kent Brooks, Terrance Olson, Brent Barlow, Sherrie Mill Johnson and Rory Reid. Most of the 13 different contributors are or have been associated with BYU.

Brinley hopes the book will have enough variety to appeal to many people.

"Different people have different problems in their marriages, and sometimes a new insight or different approach from a new author grabs your attention," he said.

Published by Deseret Book, "Living a Covenant Marriage" is available at area bookstores. For more information, call Douglas Brinley at (801) 422-3367 or Daniel Judd at (801) 422-2067.

Writer: Thomas Grover

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