Premarital Counseling: What to Discuss Before the Big Day
If you are recently engaged, there is a high chance your head is spinning with excitement at the prospect of marrying the person you love most in the world and premarital counseling may be the farthest thing from your mind. You may be neck-high in bridal magazines, potential venues, guest lists, registries, and honeymoon planning. What an exciting time of life this is for so many soon-to-be brides and grooms.When a person becomes engaged to someone they love, they often experience heightened feelings of safety and connectedness in the relationship. This is exactly how God intended it to be. The Bible tells us that God made the first man and woman in a perfect relationship with one another (Genesis 2).
Adam was so blessed by his first meeting with his wife Eve that upon seeing her, he instantly broke into poetry. In addition, the Bible frequently compares the marriage relationship to the holy union of Christ and the Church (Isaiah 54:5; Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 21:2).
The Bible also demonstrates, however, that the sacred connection of marriage is always under attack. When Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God’s command in the garden, they instantly resorted to blaming one another.
Several thousand years later, the author of Song of Solomon reminds readers to be attentive to “the little foxes that spoil the vines” (Song of Solomon 2:15, NKJV). These “little foxes” can take many shapes – from small, degrading comments to one’s spouse to seemingly innocent extra-marital flirtations.
While engagement may often be a time of bliss, it is important to invest even more in the health and quality of your upcoming marriage than in the details of the wedding day. One of the best ways to confidently approach a new marriage is through participating in premarital counseling.
Premarital counseling allows couples to address important questions that will come up in almost any marriage. Instead of potentially being shocked by your spouse’s feelings several years into marriage, you can tackle significant life questions before they even become an issue.
There are several topics couples should prioritize discussing before marriage: faith beliefs, desire to have/not have children, roles within marriage, financial responsibility, division of labor, and relationship with families of origin.
All these issues can provoke hefty emotions, and it is crucial to join in marriage only to someone with whom you can reach healthy agreements about such important topics. Discussing these concerns before marriage is not just about preventing unhappy families and staying out of divorce court; it is also about cultivating joy and closeness for a whole marriage throughout, and far beyond, the newlywed phase.
As mentioned, the primary topic of discussion in premarital counseling should always be each partner’s faith beliefs. As Christians, there is nothing more important than knowing who we are in Christ. Our lives are gifts intended by God to demonstrate His glory to those around us (Ephesians 5:1-2). When considering a marriage partner, we must seek someone with whom we can be equally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
According to Paul, this means joining our life with someone who seeks Jesus Christ as their Lord. Premarital counseling questions about each partner’s faith might include such topics as, Who do you believe Jesus is? When were you saved and baptized? What do you believe about the Trinity? Do you believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God?
Knowing what you and your future spouse believe about the primary doctrine of the Bible is a crucial foundation in building a life together. Premarital counseling should also include discussion of any secondary doctrine important to either partner.
Another important topic of discussion before marriage is the idea of children. It can be easy to assume you know how your fiancé(e) feels about having kids, or to consider it a topic for the future; it is, however, vital to discuss such a significant piece of one’s future with the person with whom you intend to spend the rest of your life.
A premarital counselor may encourage you to also discuss any strong opinions either partner has on the discipline of future children, schooling, adoption versus biological, and what each spouse feels their responsibility would be as a parent.
Determining and agreeing upon each person’s role within marriage is another crucial point of conversation for any couple. Ephesians 5:21-33 describes God’s plan for a marriage filled with holiness and joy. For some, the teachings in this passage may seem ambiguous and leave room for various interpretations, specifically such exhortations as “submit” and “respect.”
The role of the premarital counselor is to help couples engage in conversation to identify what each person believes about the role of husband and wife and if these beliefs are compatible. For individuals who have not given this topic much thought before, premarital counseling is a perfect time to reflect on how their interpretations of these Bible passages will influence their upcoming marriage.
Another point of discussion when considering marriage is each person’s view of finances. In a survey cited by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, money issues were stated as the cause of 22% of divorces in North America (Survey: Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) Professionals Reveal the Leading Causes of Divorce, n.d.).
Individuals may have very different beliefs when it comes to spending and saving. While there may not be one right way to manage money, a counselor’s job is to lead couples in a discussion that allows them to voice their opinions on the subject and decide on what form of financial planning seems right for them.
Division of labor, while related to roles in the marriage, is a separate conversation a couple should have before the wedding day. It is key that couples enter marriage with similar beliefs about who will be in charge of what within and outside of the home.
A premarital counselor will encourage couples to discuss the division of household chores, what each believes about the others’ career aspirations, and any other questions related to the division of labor. This topic of discussion is important to avoid conflicting beliefs about each spouse’s expectations of how the other will contribute to the home.
A final topic for engaged couples to tackle is the relationship to families of origin. One’s family of origin is the family in which they were raised. Scripture teaches that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). In premarital counseling, the therapist should lead the couple in sharing about their parents, siblings, and general home environment growing up.
This discussion may include relationships with family members both in the past and present. For some individuals, it can be difficult to establish separation between their parents/siblings and the new family they are creating.
When a man or woman does not “leave (their) father and mother,” but instead prioritizes them more highly than their spouse, a couple cannot enjoy the intimacy God intended. This can have devastating consequences for a marriage. It is, therefore, crucial that a future husband and wife understand each other’s beliefs regarding their relationship with their families and seek godly counsel in establishing their new family.
Engaging with these six topics of conversation can help a couple begin their married relationship on a solid foundation. Premarital counseling allows couples to grow in honesty and confidence in God and each other. If you are preparing for your wedding day, please prioritize setting up premarital counseling with a professional who can help lead you and your partner through these essential conversations.
There is no better way to start your marriage than by investing in knowing and loving your future spouse on an even deeper, more intentional level. May God bless your wedding day and the start of a beautiful new union in Him.
Survey: Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) professionals Reveal the Leading Causes of Divorce. IDFA. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2022, fromhttps://institutedfa.com/Leading-Causes-Divorce.
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