Greg Smalley said, “Make it your goal to create a marriage that feels like the safest place on earth.” How does one create a marriage of safety? One where you feel seen, heard, and physically and emotionally safe? Does safety mean that your marriage will be free of disagreements, frustration, and unforeseen circumstances?
No, a safe marriage is one built on a solid foundation of trust, effective communication, and puts God at the center of your decisions and reactions. Project Inspired said it well, “Godly relationships don’t just happen. They take two people who are committed to putting God first and the willingness to face anything together.”
8 Topics to Discuss in Premarital Counseling
As you prepare for your life together, there are several topics to discuss together in premarital counseling, so that as your marriage begins it will withstand the turbulence that life throws at it:
While your pre-marriage counselor will not ask you to give the specifics of your bank account or debt, the counselor will help open the lines of communication on discussing your finances. You must learn to prioritize, know about the other person’s debt, discuss the importance of a budget, know who is going to be the main one overseeing the bill-paying/account balancing, and how you plan to handle navigating all aspects of your finances once you say “I do.”
This may feel like an overwhelming topic to delve into; however, finances are one of the main stumbling blocks for newlyweds as you try to navigate and plan your new life as a couple. It is no longer his money or her money, but “our” money.
2. Relationship/sexual history
While this may be something you have already discussed, some individuals feel unsure of how to ask questions about the other person’s relationship and sexual history. You just want to assume you are the apple of their eye. A counselor can aid you in discussing your past relationships, trends, and sexual history, as these will eventually come up.
Has the other person struggled with infidelity? Do you have a history of pornography or other addictive behaviors? Discussing your relationship history can help gauge any negative patterns so you can work through them and avoid those same issues in the future.
3. Family historyCouples must take the opportunity in premarital counseling to discuss their childhood and upbringing, to gauge what kind of baggage they might be carrying and what things you might agree/disagree on when it comes to the way you would like to raise your future children. Are one or both of you from a broken home? Were one or both of you raised in church?
What values do you hope to instill in your children one day? Will they be raised in church? What is the most important thing to you when it comes to having a family? How will you handle spending the holidays between both of your families? These are all crucial questions to consider as you prepare to spend your life together. The more you can open the lines of communication, the closer your emotional ties will be.
4. What does your future look like?
While you do not need to be drawing up dream home plans at this point, it is extremely critical to know that you are at least in the same book, if not the same page! Do you plan to have children one day? Do you plan to live locally? Are you okay with the spouse’s dreams of working abroad one day? Do you support one another’s dreams and dream big together?
While details and plans change over the years, you want to ensure that you are on the same page about the important things. You want to ensure that you are both committed and plan to make your marriage work regardless of what happens with work promotions, children, and your dream home.
5. How do/will you handle conflict?
Premarital counseling is focused on equipping you with the tools of success for your marriage. One essential tool is knowing how to communicate effectively and how to handle conflict. Conflict resolution is instrumental to every phase of your relationship – whether you are newlyweds, in the thick of parenthood, or new empty nesters. In every phase, learning how to communicate and handle the roadblocks of life is what can make or break your marriage.You must take time to practice active listening – really listen to what your partner is saying without planning your response or an attack while they are talking. Practice empathy for and with the other person. It is important that your spouse not be viewed as the enemy, but as your teammate and best friend.
If you get in yelling matches with one another constantly, it is critical to figure out why. Are there underlying anger issues? Are you constantly talking to one another in a negative/attacking tone? Did you grow up with parents who were constantly in screaming matches?
The point of a conversation is not to overpower the other person or always be the right, the key is being vulnerable, really listening to one another, and trying to respond in love.
6. Vow to continue dating.
Too often, after you say, “I do,” you forget just how fun it is to date your spouse. You might stop going out once a week. You might stop holding their hand in public. You might stop bringing her flowers “just because.” The truth is dating should not stop once the marriage begins. It is only the beginning of lifelong dating and enjoying your spouse.
It is crucial to go into your marriage with dating and romance still on the brain. You can up your game! Make her breakfast in bed. Make him his favorite dinner. Write her a sweet love note on the mirror. Drop off his favorite coffee at work. Do not stop putting in the time and romancing one another.
7. Your sex life.
While you do not need to pre-plan your sex life, it is important to discuss topics, such as birth control and sexual desires. Too often, couples feel uncomfortable discussing their hopes for their sex life, however, physical intimacy is an extremely healthy and natural part of marriage. You should make your wants known to one another. Marriage is about pleasing one another and being emotionally, spiritually, and physically connected.
8. Make Christ the center of your marriage.
Making your relationship with Christ the center of your marriage is the key to a life-changing marriage. Adam Cappa said, “Relationships are stronger when you put God first and each other second.”
Putting God first means you share the load rather than feel like you are carrying the weight of everything on your shoulders. Putting God first means opening your heart in a way that you never thought possible. It means loving sacrificially and joyfully. It means practicing forgiveness rather than always needing to be right.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:2-3
To make every effort to be unified in the Spirit means you are not focused on always being right, but on finding peace and joy in every phase of life.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32
These are the building blocks to a marriage that will change you in ways you never thought possible. Fierce Marriage reminds us that “Marriage is the lifelong journey to learning to love like Christ.”
To begin this beautiful journey together, it is imperative to build that strong foundation from the get-go. Schedule your premarital counseling session today and begin discussing your future hopes and dreams, family planning, conflict resolution, family upbringing, and ensure that you are in this together.
“Pink Flowers”, Courtesy of Annie Spratt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Bouquet”, Courtesy of Vika Strawberrika, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Cathedral Window”, Courtesy of Refargotohp, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Couple at Sunset”, Courtesy of Caleb Ekeroth, Unsplash.com, CC0 License