It takes years to marry completely two hearts, even the most loving and well assorted. A happy wedlock is a long falling in love.
— Theodore Parker, nineteenth-century Unitarian minister
"Covenant" has been called the foundation of our Unitarian Universalist religious movement. It is covenant, rather than creed, that binds members together in a congregation and binds congregations together as the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. Covenant is also central to committed relationships. Whether spoken as vows or written like a contract, a couple's covenant articulates the highest intentions of both partners, binding them in mutual agreement and good faith. Covenants are not just for wedding ceremonies and services of union — covenants can be revisited and reaffirmed throughout the "long falling in love" of a long-term committed relationship. This introductory workshop launches participants on the process of articulating their intentions and creating a covenant together, which will be shared and affirmed at the conclusion of the program.
Guiding Unitarian Universalist Principle
Third Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth
This workshop establishes a foundation for the Principled Commitment program, promoting covenants between couples and among participants. Safety, trust, and good intention create space for mutual acceptance and encouragement to personal and spiritual growth.
Considerations for Adaptation
Alternate Activity 2, Sharing Couple Stories, fosters immediate group bonding. Consider extending the length of this initial workshop so that you can offer this activity in addition to the others. You may also wish to provide additional time for couples to discuss and complete Handout 5, Couple Covenant Worksheet; if so, Alternate Activity 3 provides instructions for extending this discussion. A three-hour workshop would provide enough time for both a longer covenant discussion and couple stories.
This workshop will:
- Introduce participants to the Principled Commitment program
- Introduce participants to one another and establish trust within the group
- Foster connections between participants
- Provide an opportunity for couples to reflect on the intentions they bring to their relationships and the foundational agreements they have made with their partners
- Introduce themselves and meet other participants
- Share their expectations for the program
- Covenant with the group regarding norms for participation
- Develop ideas for a couple covenant