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Why Receive Christian Pre-marital Counseling?

 

“Love is long suffering, and is kind; love has no envy, love is not boastful, love does not behave itself inappropriately, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil, rejoices not in injustice, but rejoices in the truth; love bears all things, believes everything, endures everything”. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

These beautiful words hold us to a high standard. That is why it has been said that before marriage one ought to open our eyes wide, but afterwards keep them half closed. In order to hold up this standard, so necessary for a marriage to work, we need to choose wisely. To decide if you are ready for marriage, you need to choose someone you can trust, because distrust erodes a relationship, and so does undeserved trust. You also need to know what your responsibilities to the marriage partner are so that you can evaluate yourself realistically. These two things can be done with the help of pre-marital therapy.

Why do you need Christian pre-marital therapy? The quote above is from the Bible. The greatest book of love is the Bible. The book of Luke is considered by many to be the most beautiful book ever written. The book of Luke, as well as the gospels of Mathew, Mark, and John, tells how Jesus died to save us - the believers and now the church- from our sins. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, giving himself up for it”. Ephesians 5:25. God is the expert, par excellence, on love.

There is nothing wrong with going to a psychologist, a social worker, a professional counselor, or a psychiatrist for pre-marital and marital therapy. In fact I would encourage you because churches sometimes give only six sessions of pre-marital couple therapy, or group pre-marital therapy with non professional married couples as group leaders and this is barely just enough. Many couples who have received pre-marital therapy say that it helped them but that they wish they had received more therapy. There is so much need in the church for marital, family, addiction, and other kinds of counseling, that there is not enough pre-marital therapy. I would recommend supplementing the church’s pre-marital therapy with other pre-marital counseling.

However, Christian pre-marital counseling adds a dimension that secular therapies do not usually have. For example, the Christian counselor advises couples not to have sex before marriage. In his book on dating, Boy Meets Girl, Pastor Joshua Harris explains how a manager of a hotel for honeymooners would run out of activities for the newly married to do. This was because the now bored couples had pre-marital sex. Whereas, Joshua and his wife, who did not have sex prior to marriage, hardly left their room!

In the city where I live there is a saying among the non-believers. They say that marriage kills sex. But it is not marriage that kills sex, but pre-marital sex that kills marriage. I knew of one couple that lived together and had sex everyday before to marriage. After marriage, the wife confided, they had sex once a month. It is not worth it to ruin twenty five or more years of marital sex for one year or even less of pre-marital sex.

If you are contemplating marriage and you are living together, you must move apart and stop having sex for a time until you get married under the guidance of the pastor or Christian counselor. Physical intimacy is like a battery. It becomes charged with non sexual activities and gives off energy with sex. Do not skip that pre-marriage charging time.

When thinking about what pre-marital therapy is, people have different points of view. One woman tells how she was looking forward to marital therapy thirty years ago. “I thought that we would receive counseling courses about marital responsibility, but the entire time, the courses, which were called ‘marital counseling’, were about catechism.” She was disappointed as were many people in the course.

Decades later, now divorced, she expects that marital counseling should be about what marriage is, what people expect it to be, and what it will really be like. Dr. Wayne Mack makes a point that partners differ in expectations and should not wait until marriage to discuss these differences.

Dr. Nancy Alvarez, secular psychologist and sexologist says that some men want marriage with weekends off. That means they spend weekends drinking with their male friends as if they were single, instead of being with their wife. Obviously, that does not work out. Couples should also discuss why they are in love with one another. It has been observed that some people become happy when they hear why their betrothed wants to marry them, others become angry.

It is certainly natural for a marital counselor to talk about spiritual intimacy. In the book, The Five Love Needs of Men and Women, Christian marital experts Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg explain how there are two kinds of intimacy in marriage, physical and spiritual. Differences in religion could lead to a lack of understanding and different values. But not everything is religion.

Counselor Grisel López of El Sendero de la Cruz Christian Church in Puerto Rico explains that even in the case that the couple is of the same religion, some couples do not have compatibility of ministries. For example, if both are church leaders, and one sings in the altar and the other preaches, they are compatible. But if one is training to be a foreign missionary and the other is a pastor of a local church, then one of the two will have to give up his or her dreams for the success of the other, because they can not make both dreams come true and live together happily at the same time.

She adds that even church leaders, who know the Bible in general, still need pre-marital counseling. Some churches do not require pre-marital counseling for church leaders because the leaders know Christianity well, yet the divorce rate for Christians is about the same as for non-Christian marriages.

According to Dr. Wayne A. Mack, some of the things covered in pre-marital counseling are relations with in-laws, making a budget together, comparing differences in the way each one expresses love, good communication (a factor in most marital problems), and conflict resolution. It is important to plan ahead how you will approach problem solving, not waiting for the problems to begin and then start by seeking marital therapy. This is because there will be problems anyway so reducing their volatility will prevent bad memories that are hard to forget later.

Dr. Mack’s workbook, Preparing for Marriage God’s Way, can be used both in addition to marital therapy, (or independently, for those persons who live in areas where there is little availability of Christian pre-marital therapy). Two copies of the workbook are used. Each member of the couple reads and fills out the answers individually. Then the couple meet and discus their answers together. Mack suggests they can make note of significant differences and seek therapy for those issues as well.

Pre-marital counseling can be fun also. You get to take personality tests with your betrothed, learning more about each other in the process. Or it could lead to more deeper and interesting conversations to talk with your loved one. Some people think they already know each other well. But even people who have been married twenty years face surprises.

You should also find out some of your betrothed’s faults in the process. There may be faults that you understand about, this is called unconditional love. But there could also be faults that you do not tolerate. Some things are not negotiable like giving little importance to fidelity. Others might not matter to one husband, for example, that his future wife likes a relaxed style of housekeeping, as long as she is a business woman, but it could matter a lot to another man.

Counselor Grisel López teaches that the best way to find your ideal love is to tell the truth about how you are so you can find someone who will be happy with you instead of turned off. If you do not reveal your faults you will not know if it is safe to relax your guard with your betrothed and find the joy of being loved as you are.

Joshua Harris’ book, Boy meets Girl; Dr. Wayne Mack’s workbook, Preparing for Marriage God’s Way; and Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg’s bookFeature Articles, The Five Love Needs of Men and Women; are available in English at the author’s Christian Bookstore link:
http://www.family-moment.com/cgi-bin/view.cgi/wm246863/storeframe.html

   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wilma Melendez has been a born again Christian for 18 years. She attends El Sendero de La Cruz Christian Church in Puerto Rico and is a counseling student of their Theological Seminary. She studies the Bible auto didactically using books from her online Christian bookstore: http://www.family-moment.com/cgi-bin/view.cgi/wm246863/storeframe.html
Her home page is at http://www.webspawner.com/users/howtopray/
Store Service Provided by DeeperCalling Web Stores, a specialist in the fulfillment of Christian Books and Church Supplies for our Christian Book Store.

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