Preparing to get married should be a wildly exciting time. In the months leading up to the big day, you are likely to experience a profound sense of anticipation and excitement as you look to what is ahead. However, it is also of vital importance that you are thoroughly prepared for what is the biggest decision you will likely ever make – to commit yourself to another person for the rest of your life.
Obviously, there are many things that you cannot anticipate or predict in terms of the intricate outworkings of your marriage relationship. But you can certainly take some wise steps now to ensure that issues do not pile up unnecessarily over the first few years of your life together.
While a “How To” marriage guide does not exist, a God-centered series of premarital counseling sessions can be extremely helpful in getting you ready for the big day, and beyond! There are no magic formulas, but there are many things to be discussed that will help you ease into the marriage with confidence and faith.
Take in-laws, for example. Most of us will hope and pray that we are accepted into the family with grace and love. But this isn’t always the case. Your future spouse may have a particularly close relationship to their mother, for example, and in turn, the mother-in-law may struggle to let their child go and be fully with their spouse.
This is a common issue, as the marriage dynamics begin to develop and affect the old family unit. If not actively dealt with, however, the presence of difficult in-laws can become an incredibly divisive and destructive issue in a marriage, and must be addressed head-on prior to you saying “I do.”
Airing your concerns about your future spouse’s family can be a sensitive topic to discuss, but addressing it will also ensure that no unnecessary roadblocks are encountered after the wedding day. While it can be difficult or uncomfortable at times, it is of vital importance that both parties are allowed to speak openly and candidly about their feelings regarding issues that may be close to the other person’s heart.
Through all of these difficult conversations, the important thing to ensure is that you both have an understanding that God is, and will always, uphold your relationship, no matter how difficult it gets. The most important thing is that you make sure you are both fully “in.”
This is no easy task! We are all prone to comparison, discontentment, and frustration over our own situations. This is why, above all things, we must surrender our lives, our relationships, and our issues to God on a daily basis.
Now, clearly, there are some mitigating circumstances, such as infidelity or abuse, that may cause a marriage to become unsustainable. But for the sake of this article and the advice contained within, let’s assume that these things have not been a factor and that both parties are fully engaged in the premarital process.
Topics to Cover at Premarital Counseling
Obviously, there are innumerable topics that could be covered during premarital counseling. A good place to start would be the issue of “commitment.” What is your definition of commitment on an individual level? This is extremely important to decipher before you launch into marriage. Once you get on the same page in this regard, other aspects of your marriage will become easier to resolve.
Other big topics may include talking about future family plans, living arrangement and location, the way you both deal with money, and the time you desire to spend with friends. It is also important to define your personality types and to ensure that you are fully aware of the other person’s preferences in terms of time spent with others vs. time spent alone.
Among a plethora of topics that would be wise to cover, two specific subjects stand out as vitally important to discuss – finances and intimacy.
Money can be a pressure point for any marriage. Whether you are financially secure or just making ends meet, the way in which you manage your money must be discussed and agreed upon in any healthy marriage.
Who will be responsible for paying the bills? How will you address issues of overspending? Do you both place the same emphasis on building up savings? Are you both comfortable with short-term debt? Do you both possess the same commitment to giving money away and being generous?
These are absolutely crucial questions that should be asked and discussed at length. Address the issue of finances now and avoid any unnecessary lack of clarity in the future!
In all these things, it is of vital importance that you consult the word of God together in order to gain wisdom on how to manage your money in a godly and wise manner.
Intimacy should be at the core of any loving and godly marriage. However, as day-to-day life gets in the way, the intimacy of marriages is often the first thing to suffer. Therefore, it is important that intimacy is brought up prior to getting married so that you will be well-equipped to deal with any dry spells or trouble connecting intimately.
Thinking along these lines, it is also of vital importance that soon-to-be married couples talk openly about sex prior to entering the marriage bed. What are your individual views on sex? Do you need sex as a source of comfort?
How do you intend on dealing with sexual temptation outside of your marriage? Do you both show affection through physical touch or do your love languages differ? These are difficult questions, but tackling them head-on is an absolute necessity if you are to cultivate a healthy sex life and a truly intimate marriage.
Discussing your personal spirituality is absolutely crucial to the future health of any marriage. As Ecclesiastes 4:12 declares, “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” When two people trust and love God with their whole hearts, it makes their marriage almost indestructible.
However, it is important to get on the same page with regards to the emphasis you put on your spiritual walks. Will the man lead the household spiritually? How will you come to an agreement on issues you have prayed about individually? How important is it that you become involved in a church community? Do you both want to grow spiritually and be fed in a church environment?
Here is what the Bible says this issue:
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living god. As God has said, “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” – 2 Corinthians 6:14-16
Disagreements and times of friction are almost unavoidable in marriage – it is how you handle these situations that is of great importance. What was your experience of conflict growing up? Was it a negative experience? Too often, our negative childhood experiences inform how we act.
The same goes for conflict. If we have seen our parents, for example, engaging in shouting matches with each other, we might find ourselves either prone to mimicking their behavior or completely withdrawing from any disagreement for fear that we might have to face the same traumatizing conflict!
Believe it or not, “good” conflict is actually possible. When engaging in disagreements, married couples must always endeavor to remain calm and listen to both sides. Compromise almost always has to play a part, as good conflict must involve a team effort towards resolution and peace-building.
Just remember that you are both on the same side and you are aiming for the same goal. You will have different methods of reaching it, but the endgame is simple – a resolution to the conflict and a happy, healthy and faith-filled marriage. Conflict does not have to be a negative and damaging thing. Indeed, if navigated well and with grace, it can be a springboard for growth and success in marriage.
So, if you are preparing to get married soon, think seriously about getting some marriage counseling. This will help you build firm foundations for your future together, and will ensure that key issues are raised now so that you do not run into a series of difficulties during your early years together.
The trained therapists at Irvine Christian Counseling have the skills required to help you navigate the toughest premarital issues and will aid you in strengthening your relationship before the big day.
God’s plan for the marriage covenant is that it would be a source of great blessing and that, through this life-long commitment, couples would reflect something of His sacrificial and enduring love. With all the right preparation in place, and with a healthy dose of his Spirit and grace, you can attain the marriage that God intended for you and experience all the fulfillment and blessing that He desires for your life.
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