It wasn’t that long ago that Mike Johnson was one of the more obscure United States politicians. Even though he has been a Congressman since 2016, this Louisiana representative never made the national and even international waves that fellow conservative politicians such as Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Green, and Mike Gaetz have done.
Recently, Johnson’s ability to fly under the radar benefited him: when former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted from his position, Republicans had difficulty replacing him because other contenders for the position (most notably Jim Jordan) couldn’t garner enough support. Eventually, Johnson secured the required votes and went from relative obscurity to serving as the 56th Speaker of the House.
This led to renewed scrutiny of Johnson’s life, including his “covenant marriage with his wife Kelly. Just what is a covenant marriage? How is it different from a standard marriage, and what does it tell us about this rising politician? Keep reading to discover the answers!
The importance of Johnson’s faith
One of the most important aspects of Mike Johnson’s life is his religious faith. His beliefs as a conservative Christian have influenced much of his political worldview. As New York Magazine reports, this includes his desire to ban abortions (which he blames for school shootings) on a federal level and doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state.
While that particular mixture of politics and religion can be a bit scary depending on your own faith, politics, and worldview, many have become just as fascinated with Johnson’s personal life as his political life. For example, he seems quite happy in his marriage to his wife, Kelly Johnson. But it’s fair to say that the two of them have a marriage quite different from almost everyone else in America.
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Not just any marriage to Kelly Johnson
Mike and Kelly Johnson decided to get married in 1999. While marriage is always a big decision between two people, it’s one that Johnson took more seriously than most. That’s why, when the time came, he and Kelly decided that just any old marriage wouldn’t do for their romantic union.
Because of that, the two of them got a special covenant marriage instead. Most people in the United States and around the world have no idea what this marriage is or why it is so significant. But now that Johnson has been elected as House Speaker, those looking into his life are discovering more and more about this fascinating alternative to the more traditional marriage rites.
Just what is a ‘covenant marriage?’
According to Marriage.com, covenant marriage means that each member of the couple must sign a special “marriage agreement, which promises that both spouses will do their best to save the marriage, and agree that they will both undergo pre-marital counseling before getting married.” Furthermore, “If they come across problems, they’d be willing to attend and sign up for marriage therapy for the marriage to work.”
In such unions, “Divorce is never encouraged in such a marriage but is still possible given the circumstances of violence, abuse, and abandonment.” Because of this, the divorce rates in covenant marriages are very low. Obviously, the nature of this special agreement helps to keep the rates low, as does the simple fact that covenant marriages in the United States are extremely limited.
Where can you get a covenant marriage?
We’re willing to bet that before Mike Johnson became Speaker of the House, you had never heard of a covenant marriage before. The reason for that is quite simple: as of this writing, you can only get such a marriage in three states.
According to American Marriage Ministries, these marriages are only available in Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Even in those states, it’s not a very popular option: “It’s estimated that only 1 – 2% of couples in these states choose covenant marriages.” On the national level, “fewer than 5% of couples in the US choose a covenant marriage, and most experts put that number at closer to 1%.” This means that Mike Johnson’s marriage to Kelly is, by definition, one of the most unique marriages in the entire country.
Avoiding the trauma of divorce
Since covenant marriages are so rare and relatively unpopular in America, that brings us to the obvious question: why would Mike and Kelly Johnson want one in the first place? Interestingly, the answer to this question has to do with the fact that divorces are so difficult (and consequently so rare) in such a union.
According to ABC News, Johnson previously said, “My own parents are divorced. As anyone who goes through that knows, that was a traumatic thing for our whole family. I’m a big proponent of marriage and fidelity and all the things that go with it, and I’ve seen firsthand the devastation [divorce] can cause.” A covenant marriage helps to reduce the odds of divorce, and now that Mike and Kelly Johnson have four children together, it reduces the odds that those kids would be traumatized by divorce the same way that Johnson was when he was younger.