6 months after we started dating, Purity (my wife) and I sat down to discuss whether we really needed premarital counseling. Our goal was to understand the benefits of premarital counseling and how it related to a successful marriage.
You might be wondering why we opted to discuss marriage early on in our dating phase. This was because we really wanted to be intentional in our dating and not waste each other’s time.
Are you in a hurry check out these three books that we highly recommend:
- Preparing for Marriage Couples Guide
- Preparing for Marriage Leaders Guide
- The Meaning of Marriage-Timothy Keller
- Devotions for Engaged Couples- Gary Thomas
We are pretty close, best friends and we do everything together. Because of the nature of our friendship and how close we are, we really dint think we needed premarital counseling. So we sat down for hours, a back and forth conversation. We wrote down what we thought were the pros and cons of premarital counseling.
Even though we saw that there were so many benefits of premarital counseling I was hesitant. My hesitation as a guy was that I will be sharing my story. To be honest I was a bit uncomfortable especially knowing that we will be sharing deep things about the past, present, and future expectations.
This process was long and hard but very important for both of us and I can say especially for me it was so beneficial. Today am writing this premarital counseling article because I know that there are so many couples out there who are afraid of sharing their story. If you and your partner are struggling right now with these insecurities, we want you to know that we understand.
If you are still deliberating whether this program is worth it for you, let me give you 14 premarital counseling benefits then you decide for yourself.
Lays a good foundation for marriage
A wise man built his house on a firm foundation. Allow me to use a bible scripture from the book of Matthew 7:24-27 to illustrate this point. The context of the verse is our faith in Christ but can also be used to address the issue of foundation.
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”Matthew 7:24-27
Even though this scripture is not talking directly about marriage, it’s a good reflection of what difference a strong foundation makes. Especially when the wind blows and the storm comes of which every marriage experiences some winds and some storm. The question is will your marriage survive the storm?
Pre-marital counseling will lay a good foundation by providing a picture of God’s purpose and plan for marriage. A couple needs to be able to answer these two questions, which will help lay a good foundation for their marriage.
Pre-marriage counseling helps couples answer the question WHY?
- Why are you getting married?
- What’s God’s design, purpose, and plan for Marriage?
Your marriage will be tested, and if you as a couple don’t lay a good foundation your chances of surviving are minimal. But let’s go to the second one.
Helps A Couple Evaluate their Compatibility
The other benefit of premarital counseling is that it helps a couple evaluate their relationship. A premarital counselor will ask a couple some questions which are meant to help the couple discuss their past background, present issues, and future expectation. From this conversation, a couple will know whether they are compatible or not.
However, compatibility is not just about similarities but choices the couple is willing to make moving forward. My wife and I come from two different backgrounds. Different cultures, different tribes, and very different upbringings. Coming together meant making serious adjustments to be able to accommodate each other.
The advantage of premarital counseling is that it will help you see these differences. Your job as a couple is to evaluate if your relationship is worth making adjustments. If a couple is not willing to make adjustments then the best thing to do is to break up.
Not to scare you but this is a possibility. There are many couples who break up after a premarital counselings session. This is because they realize they have nothing in common and are not willing to make adjustments.
Are you still there…Hope I haven’t scared you. Anyway, let’s continue.
Helps you understand the priority of marriage
Talking about the adjustment that you both need to make, the biggest adjustment you will need to make is the adjustment of priority. I love what Jimmy Evans says, Marriage only works in ‘first place‘.
When a man and woman come together to start a family, they come with their own priorities. The success of the marriage is determined by the ability of the couple to put each other first. Selfishness is the enemy of intimacy.
Paul in the book of Philippians put’s it so well, Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
This kind of mindset doesn’t come naturally, you must be intentional.
Helps Couples Manage Expectations
Let me ask you what are your expectations?
Looking into your priority, what expectations do you have of marriage. Every person who desires to get married has expectations. Some come with the expectation to be served, to be loved, to be taken care of and others come expecting someone to make them happy.
A lot of married couples right now are fighting and frustrated because of unmet expectations. Most of them either they didn’t discuss these expectations or none of them is willing to make an adjustment.
The benefit of premarital counseling is that it will help you manage those expectations. We are not saying that expectations are bad, we are just saying that most people come with unrealistic expectations. It is important for a couple to discuss their expectation before marriage.
This is a simple way to discuss expectations.
- Identify what the expectation is
- Clarify to your partner why it is important to you
- Discuss whether it is acceptable, adjustable or you need to let it go completely.
When we got married, my wife and I had not discussed making the bed. For her, she expected the one who wakes up late to be the one making the bed. I didn’t care about making the bed, I never used to make my bed when I was single.
This has become a big issue for us. For you, it might be a small thing like making the bed or a huge thing. All am saying is, discuss expectations.
Helps you have in-depth & meaningful conversation
Remember what I said about Purity and I being close. We talk about anything and everything however it is during our premarital counseling season that we had the most in-depth and meaningful conversations. Somehow the premarital counseling workbook or rather the questions had a way of making us look at things differently.
As a couple there are some conversations and questions you will not be able to talk about just the two of you. You will need someone to spark that conversation. A lot of these things don’t make sense to you right now but wait until you start the program you will understand what am talking about.
A premarital counseling program will open up that opportunity for you as a couple to start talking about some uncomfortable conversations.
Helps you make wise decisions about your future
A lot of decisions we make while dating is made from a feeling point of view. We are always trying to please the other person and are afraid to challenge or make tough decisions. Most of this thinking mindset is what we call thinking with your heart.
During your premarital counseling, the pastor or the counselor will challenge you not only to think with your heart but also with your head. This kind of thinking doesn’t come automatically, a couple needs to muster and practice. Most of the time in marriage a couple needs to be able to balance between the heart and the mind when making decisions.
Equip a Couple to communicate better
The art of balancing these two is what we call effective communication in relationships. The majority of men tend to make decisions with their heads while most women make decisions mostly with their hearts.
According to a study done by NCBI, emotions affect logical thinking. It affects the way we think, decides, and solve problems. For better communication, a husband and wife need to understand how these two perspective affects their decision making. We husbands need to know that women are emotional and wives need to understand that men are logical.
Most couples marry without understanding these two perspectives and they end up colliding and hurting each other. For those who go through premarital counseling, you will have an advantage as this is one of the major topics you will cover.
One of the major lessons that my wife and I learned was the art of listening to understand before you respond. Which is principle-driven from Steve R covey.
“Listen to understand not to respond” —Stephen R. Covey
Equips you with conflict resolution skills
The advantage of premarital counseling is that it helps you prepare for conflict. One way or the other you will face conflict in your marriage. How you handle this conflict will determine if you become better or bitter.
Most couples while faced with conflict tend to view their partners as the enemy instead of viewing the issue as the enemy. Remember you’re a team, working towards one goal.
In the book Win your war by Mark and Grace Driscoll they bring out the element of spiritual warfare in marriage. The idea is once you get married the enemy is after you to destroy your marriage. If you as a couple are not united as a team you will start to fight each other instead of fighting the issue.
25 If a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand.
Help a couple develop healthy routines
People develop intentional and unintentional routines. In marriage, you must be intentional in the routines you develop and cultivate. John Gottman Ph.D. and Nan Silver Relationship Experts and authors of the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work observed that healthy habits and routines will help improve your love maps.
My wife and I since we got married have tried to build intentional healthy routines. Two of the routines that we are enjoying right now are Wednesday date nights and praying together every night. These two routines did not come automatically, we had to be intentional and keep pushing each other. There are times that we didn’t feel like doing it, but we kept on until we found a balance.
These two routines are important because we believe in fighting our battle on our knees. Our Wednesday date night is an opportunity for us to talk because we believe when we talk we make it better. You can check our YouTube channel for more of this conversation.
Helps a couple understand common pitfalls in marriage
In a premarital counseling session, a counselor or a pastor will sometimes bring in an older married couple to share their marriage story. This is usually a good opportunity for young couples to learn from these couples’ experiences. They can ask questions and learn from the couple’s mistakes or successes.
It’s important for you as a couple to understand that you don’t know everything about marriage. Listening to other older couples might help you navigate common marriage pitfalls. A premarital counseling program will help you identify and start a mentorship relationship with an older couple.
Even though a premarital counseling workbook will help you start conversations, you will benefit more from wise counsel from older couples.
Help you understand intimacy and How to cultivate it
Yesterday my wife and I were having a premarital counseling session with a couple from church. As we went through the topic of sex and intimacy we noticed that both of them were a bit uncomfortable. Apparently, they hadn’t talked about sex and intimacy. Thank God for premarital counseling because now they get a chance to have this conversation.
This is the advantage of doing a premarital counseling session before marriage. It gives you and your partner an opportunity to talk about things you never thought you will talk about. Sex is something that most Christian couples don’t talk about before marriage. Most married people don’t even have an idea of how to cultivate intimacy.
Am glad you and your partner have an opportunity to do premarital counseling and learn how to engage and cultivate your intimacy.
Help a couple understand inlaws and how to deal with them
Marriage is two families coming together. For some, the conversation about in-laws is easy for others it’s a nightmare. I pray that your relationship with your in-laws is smooth and beautiful. If not I hope the two of you will learn skills on how to navigate with in-laws.
Helps you understand your money personality
If by now you haven’t been told, let me tell you. Money is a big thing in marriage. Among the major topics of a premarital program, finances are one of them. A premarital counselor will help you understand your money personality and explain how your two personalities might collide or compliment.
The NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) conducted research and concluded that financial problem is among the top reasons why couples divorce.
As you prepare to get married, take time to discuss your money situation. Make sure this conversation is settled before you say I do.
Helps you understand the different stages of marriage
As we finalize this conversation, I wanted to add this one because I felt that it is important for couples to understand the different stages of marriage.
These are the different stages of marriage.
- Dream Stage
- Drama Stage
- Discovery Stage
- Depth Stage
A premarital counseling program will explain the different stages of marriage to help you understand better what you getting into. Different couples start their marriage differently. For some, you will start with the honeymoon stage, for others, it’s a drama stage and vice versa.
Final thoughts: Benefits of premarital counseling
At the beginning of this premarital counseling article, I promised to give you the benefits of premarital counseling. My goal was to help you a better decision moving forward. My intentions were not to convince you but to paint the big picture of what you might get from this program.
Now the ball is in your court. You need to decide what next. If you need any help or clarification kindly reach us on Instagram or Facebook. Otherwise, we are wishing you all the best in your next level.