When most people talk about getting premarital counseling, they are thinking about spending an hour or so with the pastor who is marrying them to get advice for their marriage. Sometimes, a very conscientious pastor will offer the newlyweds more time and advise, even several sessions. The advice is generally that of a pastor, who has been married several years themselves and performed many marriages. His advice comes from personal experience and from biblical principles.
Of course, there are many people who do not get married in a traditional church wedding with a pastor. Where do these folks go for premarital counseling? The answer is in most cases, they don’t get premarital counseling except from parents and friends – who give various antidotal suggestions…such as “don’t go to sleep mad” So, instead, you “fight all night!”
Then, there are the couples that say they don’t need any marriage counseling because “they are in love!” They are just, “naturally right for each other.” They have found their “soulmate!” All I can say, is that I meet many of these people during the following seven years that are on the brink of divorce, in light of the fact that half of all divorces happen within the first seven years. The main reason is that they have become disillusioned because their high expectations have not been met. A good marriage doesn’t just happen, because the two people are “right for each other.” They need realistic expectations and relational skill education and training.
I think everyone would agree that we are living at a time when people are having great difficulties keeping a positive, happy marriage for a lifetime. Many young couples are afraid to get married because their parents and other adults they respect have already gotten divorced. They don’t want to go through what their parents and other divorced people go through. Unfortunately, most of the people who live together without getting married, have the same problems with divorce as those who are married and in most cases the divorce rate is even higher, because it’s the radical commitment of marriage that keeps them together during particularly challenging times.
I think you would agree there is nothing more important to a couple beginning a marriage than that they get off to the right start and do the right things within the relationship to keep their marriage happy and secure.
If there ever was a good time to get quality marriage counseling, it’s before you get married. Where do you get that kind of counseling? From a “marriage specialist,” who helps couples have strong marriages, because that’s their job description - that’s what they are trained to do as their vocation.
A couple near the beach
As a marriage counseling specialist of over 50 years, who also has served as a pastor for over 40 years and done many, many weddings, let me tell you what I would do to help you get a good start.
First of all, I would suggest that you have and use two basic marriage manuals, one, the Bible which is the book that lays out the basic moral principles for being a healthy human being and a loving person in relationships. The Bible teaches that God is the source of love not only toward us, but through us to one another. By nature, we are self-centered and that orientation produces a lot of marital problems.
The second manual I believe every couple should have is called “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” which was written by John Gottman, who studied why marriages succeed or fail for 35 years, doing in depth longitudinal studies on over 3000 couples. This book contains research that shows clearly the significant differences between couples that are happy and stay married and those who get divorced because they have become increasingly miserable.
We will begin our work together by meeting with the two of you for an hour together and then with each of you alone for an hour online, to make it convenient. After I get the overview of your dynamics as a couple, I would have you take “The Couples Checkup” on line, which is an inventory developed through the Gottman Institute based on the 35 years of research. This inventory will show what areas need to be worked on in order to keep you on the right track in your marriage.
After you have gone over the results of that inventory for two hours with me online, we decide what the extent of your premarital counseling will be. It can be anything from a number of sessions online, to spending some extended time with me face-to-face making sure that you understand how to maintain a positive relationship and are skilled to do so.
Yes, this “Premarital Therapy on Steroids” costs money, but you and your marriage are worth it! In fact, I would be willing to bet than one or both of your parents would be willing to foot this bill or help with it because they want nothing more that to see you enjoy a loving marriage and a happy family…and, have happy, secure grand children!
Reach out to Jim to start your counseling today!