Tuesday, February 17, 2009

As a minister I have already decided I will not perform a wedding unless I am satisfied with the premarital counseling the couple has received. This is a very important part of preparing for marriage. The simple truth is dating does not prepare a couple for marriage. Anyone that is married can validate this fact. To be honest, even good premarital counseling doesn't completely prepare a couple for marriage. Most couples go into it thinking they already know what they need to know. "I love him/her." That is enough isn't it? Well, to be honest no it isn't. There will come a time when you will doubt your love. There will come a time when you will be angrier than you thought you ever could be. That is what happens when you are close to a person. You open yourself to them and little things that wouldn't bother you in a friend or dating type of friend will drive you crazy in a spouse.

The biggest problem, though, is that even couples that go through premarital counseling don't think about how to continue to strengthen their marriage down the road. Most professions require additional training and certifications as long as you are in the career. Sure, you can be in many entry level type jobs without continuing education but who wants a marriage equivalent to flipping burgers for a living. I'm not knocking that job but let's be honest. It is a much better job for teens and college students than for someone in their 30s or 40s.

All marriages will benefit from regular counseling, seminars, or other marriage building sessions. A good marriage will get better. In fact a couple in a good marriage is probably involved in some kind of program to improve their marriage. Maybe they read couple books together or try to go on marriage retreats once a year. They might actually go to a church couple's class or some other kind of class like that. The point is that they understand that a good marriage takes work. We can always learn new things about our spouse and ourselves. Couples that think that going to something is admitting a problem probably have a problem they are trying to cover up. Those kind of problems will eventually come out and usually in a bad way that leads to the marriage dissolving.

If you are planning on getting married then make sure you get good premarital counseling. If you are married then get involved in building a stronger marriage even if you think you have a strong marriage. Start now before you have a problem.

What kinds of things have you done for your marriage lately?

4 comments:

Alicia said...

I saw your posting on stuff Christians like, and thought I'd throw in my two cents.

I agree with this. Marriage does take work, but people have a mentality that work is bad, but it doesn't have to be. We want things to be instantaneous and easy but that's not how things always work.

I am newly married (about 6 months) and we went through counseling twice-once before we got engaged and then actual premarital counseling. Both helped in different ways and I'm so glad we did it. It's easier to call a relationship off before you get engaged and we wanted to make sure we were headed in the right direction and we learned some valuable communication skills. Premarital counseling was mostly a review, but a good one nonetheless.

Anyway, just wanted to give kudos to your decision to not marry a couple that isn't ready. If only more ministers felt that way, it would save a lot of newlyweds a lot of heartache.

Nick the Geek said...

Alicia,

Thanks for coming by, and kudos to you and your new hubby for valueing your marriage enough to go through counseling 3 times before you got married. May I recommend following up around your anniversary with the person that did your premarital if possible. There are a to of things that you will think you are prepared for only to find that theory doesn't match up with reality. After that if you can do something to build your marriage every 6 months or so you will have a strong marriage even in the hardest of times, which unfortunately will come.

Of course some of those things might be a matter of reading a relationship book like The 5 love languages together and discussing it, but every so often you will want to go to a marriage retreat or even go into marriage and family counseling for a few sessions.

Amelia said...

Love this column - I am engaged to a wonderful guy (who I've been dating for 5 years, living with for 4...we're not Christians, but we're sort of marriage traditionalists in that we believe in getting married ONCE and sticking it through), and I think one of the reasons I am so confident that we will stay together is that we talk about the things that aren't perfect - we talk about times we get angry, or frustrated, or resentful, and we don't let that stuff stew. We yell sometimes, and we fight sometimes, but we always know that we'll make up, and we always know that we're really fighting for our relationship, not about some little silly thing one of us did.

I've watched my parents (who are celebrating 27 years of marriage in October) my whole life, and I know it takes work and sacrifice to make a good marriage, and I look at how much they love each other and how good they are to each other and I know that it's not always going to be easy, but it will always be worth it.

Amelia said...

P.S. I think a lot of the trouble people have in marriages in our country is that they assume that marriage is supposed to be a fairytale. They think that all of their relationship problems can be wished away with a wedding, or that if it takes work, it's not working. I think people set marriages up to fail when they expect them to be perfect.

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