The Importance of Premarital Counseling

Let's hear two fictional stories before proceeding to state the importance of premarital counseling.

Jane and John are separated today. Friends who attended their wedding still remember how sweet the beautiful bride and charming groom looked. The elaborate preparation towards the ceremony was evident in the expensive décor and sumptuous refreshments.

Unfortunately, the abundant wedding gifts were not yet all opened when a sour taste began to envelop and finally extinguish the sweetness of the relationship.

With no one to run to for help, Jane and John chose to separate and begin divorce proceedings. They believe their marriage to each other was a mistake.

On the other side of town are Jill and Jack, a soon-to-be married couple. Their church insists on premarital counseling as a prerequisite for marriage solemnization.

However, Jill's and Jack's pastor feels his effort is being wasted, because the would-be couple has blinkered eyes, and just going through the motion to satisfy the church requirement.

'We don't really feel this is important,' Jill says. 'We love each other greatly and don't see why counseling should be a big deal.'

'Yep,' Jack echoes her thoughts. 'I love Jill, and I'm going to love her no matter what'.

These examples illustrate some of the reasons why intending Christian Singles may not consider premarital counseling.

  1. Like Jane and John, they may be ignorant about premarital counseling.
  2.  Like Jill and Jack, they may believe their love for each other is enough, and that counseling is for those couples who may likely have problems in marriage.
  3. Fear that counseling may expose uncomfortable issues and cause their relationship to be terminated. The counselor may think the couple incompatible.
  4. Hyper-spirituality: 'Where in the Bible did couples undergo premarital counseling? Wasn't Rebecca just brought to Isaac and they lived happily ever after'?
  5. Presumption: 'God has told us we're meant to be. We don't need counseling before marriage. Nothing can come between us. Our marriage can never fail.
  6. Over-confidence: 'We already know much about marriage relationships. We don't need anyone to counsel us'.

Caveat about premarital counseling.

Not every marriage begun without premarital counseling fails. And equally, not every couple that goes through counseling has a successful marriage. The formality in itself is no guarantee for good marriage.

Statistics, however, indicate that couples who willingly and purposefully undergo counseling before saying 'I do', have higher rates of marriage success.

Premarital counseling is a help along the decision making process.

1. Counseling sets aside the emotions and helps the intending couple to look squarely at important issues.

As a result, some couples have discovered that they are not meant to be together and have happily gone their separate ways while remaining cordial towards each other.

Yes, the fear that counseling may result in the termination of a relationship is true. But it is better to go your separate ways before marriage than go through the pain and ordeal of divorce or have a bad marriage.

The good news is that cases of separation from counseling are few. Even during those times, the separation is not hurtful as in a break up where only one party wants out. The couple discovers where they were making assumptions and sees the reason why proceeding to marriage is not the right decision.

This advice was given to me by a counselor during a painful time of my life. I was grieving from a painful break up, wondering what in the world had gone wrong.

I had been headed for the altar with eyes glazed with fluffy emotions and ignorance. Number 5 above was my reason to not consider seeking counseling, since 'God had told me he was going to be my husband.'

As I look back now I know the relationship wouldn’t have survived honest counseling. Marriage would have been a fatal mistake, not just for me but I believe for him too.

There was much we wanted out of life that each was not ready to willingly accommodate, though physical attraction to each other and similar beliefs about God wanting us to end up together, made us willingly ignore these important things. That would have made living together miserable.

Thank God, we broke up before it was too late. Unfortunately, many Singles only discover their mistakes while already in marriage. At that moment, they need counseling in an attempt to rescue the marriage, instead of the prevention that premarital counseling seeks to provide.

2. Premarital counseling helps you make informed choices.

Many are the couples who will tell you how much they assumed knowledge of marriage (and of their partner) before counseling – if it is really good counseling. See below why you need a good counselor.

3. Premarital counseling helps you set realistic expectations for marriage.

Movies and soap operas have given our society an unreal picture of marriage. Many watch love stories on the screens and hope to experience such in their marriages. Yet when you consider the divorce rates among movie stars, that should make you know that even they themselves can't live what they help make us believe about blissful marriage life.

Who desperately needs premarital counseling?

It would be great if every intending couple goes through counseling. But there are some who may need the sessions more than others.

  • If you've had failed relationships before.
  • If your present relationship is a reunion.
  • If you and your partner have big differences in cultural, social and educational background.
  • If one of you is a single parent

When to seek counseling

The earlier the better. When you begin dating or courting. Do not plan a wedding before seeking a counselor. Preparing towards a good marriage should take preeminence over a beautiful expensive wedding ceremony.

With a wedding date already set, or long-term relationship which everyone around knows about, you may find it difficult to retreat if serious issues come up that can lead to regret in marriage.

Who should counsel you?

There's this assumption that every pastor is a marriage counselor. That is not true. Another assumption is that only the married can counsel the soon-to-be married. While that certainly has advantages, some married persons may not give you good counseling.

The Apostle Paul was a Single. He would have been a good counselor to searching couples. A Christian of good standing who knows about marriage makes a good counselor.

If you get a married counselor, consider if their marriage is exemplary and enviable. If they aren't living it, they would not preach it fervently. If it isn't working for them, why should they offer it to you? Seek someone whose marriage can convince you that marriage is still beautiful today.

A good counselor will give your desire to prepare for marriage the seriousness it deserves. He may need to have more than one session of real honest discussion with you, with many follow up tasks and foods for thought. You will need to find another counselor if the first gives you a few minutes sermonette on marriage and that's it.

Premarital counseling is not absolutely necessary. Some marriages still do well without. But it is important. See it as laying a good foundation for your marriage. As a Christian single, you should endeavor to go through counseling before marriage. Even if you think you know it all. Listening to someone else gives you a broader understanding and different yet important perspective.

Don’t do it as a formality. Believe it is important, and you would get the most out of it.

God bless,


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