Premarital counseling is a form of couples therapy that can prepare engaged couples for marriage. Each session provides opportunities for the partners to discuss several important issues such as individual and joint finances, parenting styles, communication styles, conflict resolution strategies, and decision-making styles.
The engaged couples meet with the marriage ministry pastors once a week for 1hour online. There are 12 sessions which usually take 3 to 4 months to complete depending on schedule availability.
The engaged couples complete 3 things:
1. Take a Personality Test - Focus on the Family is a valuable resource full of marriage and parenting ideas. Go to the website to take the personality test at https://www.focusonthefamily.com/bring-your-bible/personality-test/
2. Write a Prayer - Use bible scriptures to write a prayer for one another. Write a prayer according to God’s expectations. The purpose of marriage is for two to walk together for the sake of the Gospel.
3. Study the Bible Together - Ephesians 5:26 says … make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. During the courtship, study the bible together to hear how God talks to each other.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. - Ephesians 5:21
The Pre-Marital Sessions are divided into 4 sections. Each section promotes the 7 vital discussions necessary for a firm marital foundation.
Section 1: The Biblical Foundation of Marriage focuses on developing the image of Jesus. Men and women have equal value and dignity in God’s eyes; they were created with different roles. The relationship between Christ and the church models for husbands and wives and how they are to relate to one another. Genesis 2:24
Section 2: Marital Communication is speaking to your spouse the way God talks to him/her. God wants married couples to use their words to build up, to help your spouse look more like Jesus. The goal is to achieve a oneness of understanding. Ephesians 4:29-30
Section 3: Sexuality within Marriage is a sacred coming together of a couple celebrating God’s gift of each other. A healthy biblical sexuality involves physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual intimacy. Sex is more than the physical in a relationship full of love and respect. Philippians 4:8
Section 4: Conflict Resolution & Decision Making are usually discussed when couples talk about money, politics, work, children, housing, in-laws, and holiday celebrations. Make a commitment to handle disagreements according to the Word of God.
Colossians 3:12 – 17 (NLT)
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
- The meaning of the marriage commitment.
Why do you want to marry each other? Express what you believe about marriage and how you think it will benefit your lives. Share which behaviors you believe are off-limits in your marriage and those you hope to incorporate. Discuss how you are willing to protect and honor your commitment.
- Your individual and combined goals and aspirations.
Discuss the life goals that matter most to you. Clearly lay out your strategies for the short and long-term. What career, community, and family objectives mean most? Consider what you both think will be necessary in the way of planning and sacrifice to achieve them.
- Your relationship expectations.
Often partners don’t realize how dissimilar their perceptions and expectations are for overall marital satisfaction. Talk about how you hope to support and be supported. How much togetherness and time alone makes you comfortable? Are you willing to honor agreements regarding time allotted for work, recreation, and intimacy? How important will personal hobbies, friendships, and family time be in your daily life?
- Your ideas regarding family planning or family blending.
If, how, and when you start a family is a crucial discussion prior to marriage. Be sure you are on the same page regarding your willingness to have and raise children. How many would you like to have? How will you handle potential challenges in making that a reality? How will you handle parenting children from previous relationships? Will you take preventative measures until you’re both ready? Discuss openly the child-rearing philosophies, values, and disciplinary measures that are important to you.
- Your perceptions and expectations regarding money matters.
Work out a system for financial review and accountability. Talk about your money histories honestly and share current circumstances openly. Take a look at the salary differential between you and your feelings about it. Also, look at your expectations regarding breadwinning and lifestyle as your family grows. Seriously consider how bills, personal and combined debt, credit, taxes, and savings will be managed.
- Your home life and living arrangements.
Discuss how you imagine your everyday life together. Will you live near family or do you hope to make a life elsewhere? Discuss whether homeownership or living in certain socio-economic locations are important to you. Is the goal to recreate the lifestyle you had as children or to build an entirely different home life? Consider too, how you might expect the needs of your aging parents to factor into your life together.
- Your plan for resolving conflict productively.
Merging your lives will undoubtedly lead to a measure of conflict initially and throughout your life together. It is crucial to commit to handling disagreements and your relationship before lingering ill-will or contempt creep in. Counseling will help you recognize and manage points of conflict and ineffective communication patterns early.