It’s the air. Proposals and engagement parties, both are the makings of soon to be wedding plans. So many things to do and so little time. There are halls to book and wedding dresses to consider. In the 22 years of supporting couples as they prepare for marriage, I have learned a few things. Through my next two articles, I will explore the basic “dos and don’ts” couples should consider before saying, “I do”. Most of them should not be surprising, but I continue to be amazed at how often the advice below about premarital counseling questions is ignored. So, before you book the church and reserve the caterer, I encourage you to consider these basic principles of cultivating a healthy marriage. Let’s start with the “dos”:
Do Figure Out Your Own “Stuff”
During the dating process, you tend to put on our best. The challenge becomes when the real you shows up. Take the time to identify strengths and weaknesses in your character. Self-reflection is huge when determining the success of a relationship.
Do Identify Your Core Values
Individuals who know their core values can connect with their purpose and plan in life. Values and rituals are essential to how you communicate wants and needs. If trust, faith and dependability are at the heart of how you live, imagine if you connect with someone who lacks the ability to tell the truth on small things (big stuff too).
Do Explore How Past Relationships Affect Current Behavior
When you do not take the time to process our past experiences, you are destined to repeat those same bad habits in the current relationship. Do you have issues with honesty, respect and commitment? Consider evaluating how past relationships have distorted your view of what a healthy relationship should look like.
Do expect growth, maturity and acceptance in a relationship
If you are not growing in compassion, intimacy and care, then you are either stuck or dying!
Do figure out your own finances first
Before entering into a relationship with someone else, it’s important to identify your own financial habits and attitudes toward money. Sex, family issues and finances are the big three killers of a relationship. Everyone has an opinion/belief about how to save, spend or invest money. ‘Some work to live and others live to work.’ Which one are you and are you about to marry someone who is the exact opposite?
Identify What It is That You Love About Your Spouse-to-Be
It’s essential that you are able to pinpoint what it is that you love about your future spouse. Your spouse should be important to you because he or she brings something to your life that no one else can. Marrying someone to cook and clean is not a reason to marry, it’s a reason to hire a maid!
Do marry someone you are happy being around
I have seen so many couples who insist that their partner has an obligation to make them happy. Instead of demanding that they always make you happy, marry someone who you feel happy around naturally.
Each year, I meet at least three couples that enter counseling with the idea that exploring the various dimensions of their marriage is worth the time and money. Nine years ago, Fredrick and Crystal were contemplating marriage. They entered the first three sessions with ambivalence regarding how talking to a stranger would benefit their future. The “it” moment (which always does happen) occurred during our fourth session. Fredrick stated, “ I think it is a good idea to have the man make all the final decisions.” Crystal stated, “Well what if I have more expertise in the matter than you do?” Fredrick replies, “I will be the head of the house. You will need to trust me.” Crystal responded, “If I have to blindly trust you then why do you need me? What you need is a consultant!” Neither of them would have imagined that they had an issue trusting the other. Needless to say, it took a few sessions to identify the core issues of how trust and respect would look in their marriage. I am happy to report, they have been married for nine years now, having learned new compromise and conflict communication skills. I still receive a fruit basket from them on Christmas.
Christian Pre-Marital Counseling for Engaged Couples
In this article, I have tried to identify several important practices that will help you and your partner prepare for life together in Christian marriage. Please look for my next article, which will outline the “don’ts” of marriage and provide further insight into how you can prepare yourself for the commitment and challenges of marriage. I would be delighted to partner with you to explore areas in your relationship which you would like to hone as you prepare to enter into the covenant of marriage. Pre-marital counseling is an essential aspect of marriage preparation, and I am pleased to offer guidance for couples wishing to learn more.
Images courtesy of Master Isolated Images and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net