Marriage Counseling: Is it only for Engaged Couples?
Jack and Rosie met at a church service. They spoke for a few months and spent time together in order to get to know each other better. They later realized that they wanted the relationship to get to the stage of marriage. They made the choice that they were not dating without a goal in mind, and so they decided that it was solely for the purpose of getting married. They have been doing well in their relationship, but they have always been told that marriage counseling is started once you have become engaged, or sometime near the proposed wedding date. So they ask:
“If you meet someone, and you guys come to the agreement that you are working towards marriage, is it good to get marriage counseling?”
I think it is beyond amazing if you are able to get marriage counseling, or “relationship” counseling. Call it what you want! Relationships are not an easy task to handle on your own. Everyone needs help and guidance at many points in their relationship.
Once you enter a relationship, you first witness the honeymoon phase. The honeymoon phase is when your eyes are glistening because you are so infatuated with the man you’ve come to really like and care about. In this phase, you are at most times the filtered version of yourselves. You don’t show that bad habit of biting your nails; you watch what you say to make sure you’re not offensive; you dress your best, you show all of your manners and do all sorts of things to make sure that you are marketable to this guy.
A few months down the road, EVERYTHING CHANGES! You begin to pick up little details about each other. You may realize that he makes all sorts of noises when he chews his food, and he may realize that you have a boat-load of insecurities. You really like this person and acknowledge that he would be a great fit as a husband, but these details you’ve noticed drive you crazy. What do you do???
NO ONE IS EVER READY FOR MARRIAGE. This is a fact. You can prepare for marriage all you want, but once you enter it, it will not be the exam the you studied for. These are just a few of the reasons why I think it’s important to engage in some type of pre-engagement counseling. It’s important to meet with a CHRISTIAN counselor that can paint scenarios for you and engage you in activities that help you to gain more understanding about your morals, desires, goals and etc.
Side note: I highlight a CHRISTIAN counselor because God is the author of marriage. He created marriage and its purposes. It’s important to learn how to do marriage through God’s blueprint because it’s the only way the marriage will work and bring honor where it is due.
In counseling, you will learn how to properly manage a household, how to submit to your husband/wife, and many more things. The agenda of topics to tackle are ENDLESS. It will also bring up questions that you may or may not have discussed with your significant other. These topics include and are not limited to finances(having one account or separate ones), how many kids you want to have, how you want to raise your kids, where you want to live, and how long you want to have visitors in your home. Learning these things earlier in your relationship help you to figure out if the individual has the same values and morals as you do and if you guys are able to come to an agreement about these major blocks of your future together. Through counseling, you both will build a nature and character that a husband or wife would have and then it also gives you time to put it into practice before the real deal begins. Keep in mind that the two of you are coming from two different households. For your whole lives, you have not been raised the same and so something that may be second-nature for you could be brand new for him. You have to find a balance.
So, my husband and I got married in August of 2016. We had spoken to our church about getting married about a year before that time. We did not start our counseling until May of 2016 since we were further down on the queue of upcoming weddings. We had 3 counseling sessions between May and August. Yes, three. There just wasn’t enough time along with scheduling conflicts, however, it was our pastor’s intention to only have 3 sessions. Within that time we learned a lot about temperaments and the fact that you don’t really need to make a comment about everything you observe in the household. We did not participate in hands-on activities outside of prayer, but I had really wished that we did. I wished that we would’ve learned skills to make the household orderly. I would’ve liked to learn about budgeting and the percentages of your paycheck that should go to rent, savings, recreational, and etc, just to name one topic. So with these three sessions, it seemed that with everything that was taught, we had to try to make it a part of us within the three months before we got married. It seemed like we had to rush although we informed our church about it a year in advance. You shouldn’t have to feel that pressure.
If you have the chance, seek counseling. Educate yourself on the dealings of marriage. I’m not sure if your church will be open to conducting such a session; I’m pretty sure my church wouldn’t be okay with that, but there are so many Christian counselors all over America that are there to serve that purpose. Do your research on counselors and see which one will fit that purpose you are trying to achieve. It doesn’t matter how far or near they are. Nowadays, counseling sessions are done over Skype and FaceTime. It can work, just make it happen.
I assure that you will feel more ready and be more equipped for marriage when the time does finally come!
God loves you.