By Heidi Vegh, Crosswalk.com
When God created marriage, He had one thing in mind. To create a human union that reflected how He loves the church (His people). He designed the beautiful relationship to reflect His perfect love. We want to step into marriage with a biblical and God-honoring foundation.
He desires that the relationship be fueled by each spouse putting the other first and encouraging them in their purposes for the Lord.
We, as humans, can't love perfectly; we need all the help we can get. That is why participation in premarital counseling can be so life-giving for your future marriage. Before we get married, there are many things to consider.
We need to dig deep into the lives of our betrothed and get to the bottom of important issues. We want all things brought to light to avoid trouble in the future. As we prepare to walk down the aisle, one of the most beneficial things we can do is get premarital counseling.
So what is premarital counseling, you ask?
Premarital counseling is a type of counseling or therapy that helps couples get to a healthy place before they say I do. They have an opportunity to discuss important topics and to get their expectations aligned. You can hire a professional counselor specializing in premarital, or your pastor will most likely offer his services before officiating your wedding. Christian counseling or meeting with your pastor would be most beneficial as you can incorporate your faith and relationships with God in the process, learning how to put Him in the center of marriage. This can help sustain the relationship when issues do arise.
God empowers us with truths from His Word that give us guidance and direction when it comes to marriage. He equipped us with basic and solid truths that we can stand firm on when we enter marriage. Christian premarital counseling can help us pull out these truths and give us practical ways to apply them to our lives.
4 Biblical Purposes for Premarital Counseling
1. Understanding Marriage Commitment
If a man vows a vow to the Lord or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. Numbers 30:2
In our modern world, too often, people enter into marriage not fully understanding their lifelong commitment. When the engagement ring has been placed on the girl's finger, the focus is often on planning the wedding and all that it entails. The wedding preparation can be all-consuming, leaving little room for preparing for what life will look like after the celebration ends. God has a lot to say about what he desires for marriage. When we spend time with a counselor truly understanding the commitment, it can put our heads in the right space so that we are not bombarded when the honeymoon ends. We want to truly understand what we are getting into as much as possible, so that when conflict and issues arise, we have the commitment needed to withstand marriage's difficulties.
2. Improve Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills
A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel. Proverbs 15:18
Everyone is brought up in a different home, with different families and different ways of communicating with each other. It is often the case that each person has been modeled in different ways of navigating their communication skills growing up. Understanding these aspects of childhood can be extremely beneficial before the walk down the aisle. It is impossible to know everything, but talking about how you desire to communicate and learning how your future spouse expresses his feelings and thoughts will only serve you well in your marriage. A counselor can help you understand yourself and your future spouse.
Conflict is inevitable in marriage. You will disagree, and you will fight. This is normal and healthy. You want to be in a marriage that provides a safe space to express emotion and issues openly. Talking about your conflict resolution skills with premarital counseling can smooth out issues before they arise. This doesn't mean you will always sail in and out of the conflict in your marriage. However, entering the marriage with a rich understanding of how you each resolve or avoid conflict can give you a head start in your marriage relationship.
3. Setting Realistic Expectations
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. Psalm 62:5
The world tells us that marriage was created to make us happy and bring us all the fulfillment we need. This could not be further from the truth. Although God longs for us to find joy in our marriage and our spouse, this can not be why we get married. Too many marriages fail, and the reason is often "he/she didn't make me happy." That is quite a lofty expectation to put on another person. One person should not have to carry that responsibility, especially a spouse. Even on our best days, it is impossible to be perfect, and we will most likely disappoint our spouse at some point in the marriage. This happens often. When we seek out premarital counseling and discuss the expectations of the marriage, it can even the playing field so that we are not left shell-shocked when we realize that our person is not perfect. They make mistakes and can even make us unhappy. When we gain a good perspective on navigating disappointment, we won't be tempted to take the world's advice and walk away when things get hard. You will learn how to stick it out and have grace and forgiveness for your spouse.
4. Opportunity to Get Things Out in the Light
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. Ephesians 5:11-12
No one likes to talk about their past relationships with their future spouse. It can be uncomfortable and awkward. However, disclosing your past in the safe space of premarital counseling can relieve any mystery regarding your person's past. There do not need to be details or even names, but revealing each person that you have had a serious or sexual relationship with will help you get to know each other better and give you opportunities to clear the air. Praying for a release from any soul ties with other people can give you a clean slate as you start your marriage. You can enter the marriage knowing that you know everything and won't have any questions later. If, in the future, people from the past get brought up, or you have a chance encounter, you will not be taken off guard or left feeling like there were any secrets. You can have complete confidence that there are no hidden things regarding your past.
Use this time to expose any addictions or hidden sin you need to work on. This can be a vulnerable place to be in, but it is better to get it out in the open before you are married and allow your spouse to work through any issues they have.
Secret sin will kill a marriage. It will give the enemy a foothold in your marriage and create distance, resentment, and unhealthy conflict. Bring all things into the light, as awkward and uncomfortable as it may be. Working with premarital counseling to talk about these awkward issues can expose past sin and bring it to light so that it does not have a hold on your marriage before it even starts.
Do your future marriage a favor and get started on premarital counseling. It is possible to have a healthy, life-giving, and God-honoring marriage, even amongst life's biggest issues. When you get started on the right foot with everything out in the open, you will have the best chance of a beautiful and fulfilling marriage.
Heidi Vegh is a writer, speaker, and ministry leader living in Western Washington. She is a remarried mother of four, navigating the blended family life after the loss of her first husband to cancer in 2013. She longs to use her writing as a way to encourage others who have experienced loss and guide them on the road to healing. She contributes to her blog found at www.mrsheidivegh.com , sharing stories and devotionals of faith stemming from her loss and healing, mothering, and her blended and complex family. She graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a degree in Creative Writing and English and is working on her first book. Heidi is the Women’s Ministry Director at her local church and has a deep heart for sharing Jesus with women and encouraging them in their faith walk. When she is not writing, she loves to travel, read, craft, and experiment in the kitchen. Visit her Facebook and Instagram (@mrsheidivegh) to learn more.