Premarital counseling gives you an opportunity to get to know each other on a deeper level. Then you can explore where you stand on important issues and uncover areas where your assumptions don’t align. You can then address these potential areas of conflict in a productive way that will help reduce disagreements later. It can also help you decide whether marriage really is in both of your best interests.
Couples tend to have preconceived notions about what marriage should look like. Your expectations are likely based on your own past experiences, which could be quite different from that of your partner. Premarital counseling opens up doors of communication and understanding for both partners before they get married.
Research studies indicate that couples who go for premarital counseling before tying the knot end up with a more realistic view of marriage, a deeper level of commitment to each other, and are able to make an easier adjustment to married life than those who did not receive premarital counseling. They are also 30 percent less likely to divorce (Journal of Family Psychology, 2006).
What to expect in a premarital counseling session.
Premarital counseling provides a safe, neutral environment where you can define and work through your expectations of marriage under the guidance of a trained marriage counselor. To get started, he or she will ask questions such as the following to help guide the conversation and keep you from going off on a tangent.
- What do you appreciate most about each other?
- What part of your relationship do you value the most?
- What does marriage and commitment mean to you?
- What does betrayal and infidelity mean to you?
- What do you think makes you compatible for marriage to each other?
- How do you define a happy, loving, and fulfilling marriage?
- How do you feel about children? How many do you want to have?
- What kind of relationship do you have with your family and your partner’s family?
- What is your relationship with money, and how do you feel about having or managing debt?
- What is your current financial situation, including total debt, savings, and retirement funds?
- Are your spending habits compatible?
- Do you expect to manage your money jointly or separately?
- Who will pay for which of your household expenses and bills?
- How do you feel about saving money and investing?
- How do you plan to raise and/or educate your children?
- What are your expectations around intimacy and sex?
- How would you want a spouse to express his/her love and affection toward you?
- What do you think about division of household chores?
- Where do you see yourselves living and building your life down the road?
- How important are your religious beliefs to you?
- Which religion will be taught and celebrated in your home?
- If you and your partner have different religious traditions, which one will you raise your children in?
- Do you have any deal makers or breakers as far as your expectations of a spouse are concerned?
- What type of personal, financial and emotional support will you expect from each other?
- How will you handle conflict?
- How do you expect to interact with your friends as a married couple?
- Are you comfortable with each other’s lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, sleeping habits, hobbies, activities, and career?
- How do you expect to include each other – or not – when making important personal decisions?
- How much time do you expect to spend with each other after marriage, and how will you spend your free time apart?
- What are your individual core values, and do they align with each other’s?
- Do you have any positive relationship role models for marriage? What about their marriage do you admire?
Christian versus secular premarital counseling.
When Christian couples get married, they are not only entering a covenant with each other, but they are also entering a covenant with God. The Bible provides direction and guidance for marriage that when honored and understood will help make your relationship all that God designed it to be.
Christian premarital counseling combines secular counseling with biblical principles. This not only helps you process and prepare for the responsibilities of being husband and wife.
It also helps you understand how to see marriage the way God sees it, so you can have a fulfilling union that glorifies Him. Building your marriage on a shared understanding of what the Bible says about it, and having a willingness to apply it, will prepare you to have a successful union.
What the Bible says about marriage.
Marriage was instituted by God in the Garden of Eden, to be an intimate, monogamous, fruitful, complementing union between a man and a woman.
So God created human beings in His own image. In the image of God, He created them; male and female, He created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply.” – Genesis 1:27-28, NLT
As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” – Ephesians 5:3, NLT
Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together. – Matthew 19:6, NLT
Marriage is a covenant relationship, a commitment before God, centered in Christ, and is never to be based on shifting feelings. Rather, it’s a choice you make every day to love and cherish the spouse you’ve chosen to marry, through the good times and bad.
Give honor to marriage and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery. – Hebrews 13:4, NLT
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. . . love will last forever! – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NLT
So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. – Ephesians 5:33, NLT
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. – Ephesians 4:2-3, NLT
Marriage is the most intimate of human relationships and provides a unique opportunity to model Christ’s love for His church and reflect Him as a couple.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body. – Ephesians 5:21-30, NIV
If you have questions or would like to set up an appointment for premarital counseling with me or one of the other counselors in our online counselor directory, please give us a call today.
Caroline Sweatt-Eldredge (June 14, 2017). Do You Really Need Premarital Counseling? Psychology Today, psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-connected-life/20176/do-you-really-need-premarital-counseling.
Everything You Need To Know About Premarital Counseling (February 22, 2014). HuffPost, huffpost.com/entry/pre-marital counseling_n_4784568.
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