Friday, January 31, 2014

Pre Marital Counseling

The idea of pre-marriage counseling never really appealed to me. The idea of someone evaluating my relationship with my future spouse was leaning too far on the judgemental side. Yet, despite those pre conceived thoughts, here I am... going on my 4th week in pre marriage counseling. 

I guess I felt compelled to write on this subject, not to make a list of why (those seem to be popular these days) but to debunk a myth that I myself had fallen to believe.

My very narrow mind knew that once a good Christian couples got engaged, it was a good idea to get pre marriage counseling by the pastor who was going to marry the couple. I never knew why or what the purpose was, but thought it was to make sure that the couple got the approval to be married. Now, I could be the only person in the world with this idea but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who is/was in the dark on this subject to some degree.

My fiancé Justin and I are about 4 months out from the big day. WOO HOO!!! We have made it through 5 of the 9 months of engagement already! We are also about 4 weeks into our pre marriage counseling. It took us both about 5 months to really come to the conclusion that pre marriage counseling might not be such a bad idea. Yall! I am so glad the lord softened our hearts to get this guidance because it has been such a great experience!

To avoid a list of “whys” I only have one proof to back up my previous excited statement:

 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. 
Proverbs 19: 20-21

Scripture. Scripture. Scripture! The Lord allows us to go through experiences, trials, joys and bumps to minister and guide others who are following a similar path. Marriage is a gift from God, an institution set by him to glorify him. From what I’ve heard these past 5 months, marriage rocks but is one of the hardest things we will do….. Encouraging right?

After a few months of debating and fighting the scary advice we were getting, Justin and I decided to throw our names out in the church. We went about it the same way as our relationship, if it was in God’s will, he will provide. Well, he sure did! Shortly after we threw our name into the air, a sweet couple about the age of our parents contacted Justin and me. It wasn’t a pastor; it wasn’t an ordained figure in the church. We were going to be counseled by Christ loving normal married couple.

I’d like to say that the counseling has opened our eyes and magically brought out the best part of both of us and we are going to live perfect and happily ever after. That would be awesome. I will say, though, that the pre marriage counseling has really pushed Justin and I to dig deep within ourselves, to be vulnerable and to work together. We are learning to communicate better. We are learning about expectations, ideas, thoughts and dreams we have. Most importantly, we are learning more of what God intended when he created marriage in his own image.

I wont sit here and tell everyone that they need to get pre marriage counseling. I know many many people who have successful marriages who didn’t get counseling. I do want to sit here and brag about the incredible benefits that have come so far from getting this counsel before entering into this God given gift.

Scripture tells us time and time again to seek advice, to seek counsel.

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice”
-       Proverbs 12:15

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety”
-       Proverbs 11:14

 You get the point.

Before marriage, we live a very self-centered life. We are the sole focus of ourselves, as it should be. We have to discover who we are before we join with another. With our journey of self-discovery we tend to develop these things called flaws. Most of the time these flaws aren’t apparent to us but unfortunately they exist and usually others can see them. Pre marriage counseling has allowed Justin and I to not only pin point these flaws but to call them out in each other and confront them. Marriage doesn’t lessen problems but heightens them. Being able to confront the things that bother us gives us a clear head. With a clear mind we are able to stop the growth of any false expectations we may have. Even in dating we’ve seen the outcome of expectations falling short. Not pretty.

Counseling has also allowed Justin and I the ability to sit down and talk about future plans (more along the lines of expectations). The book we are following asks us a series of questions to dissect and discuss with each other. We talk about the past, present and most importantly the future; kids, living, jobs, vacations, family and finances. As young 20 somethings, most of these things seem to be subjects to touch on far in the future. It’s been an eye opener to actually talk about them now and get our foot in the door so there aren’t any major surprises later on.

Lastly, Counseling has allowed Justin and I the possibility to grow along with the guidance of a God fearing married couple. We could sit down and talk about all of these things one on one but in the end we litereally have no idea what we are doing. We are learning as we go. However, it is the accountability and wise words of the experienced that has really given us both reassurance and confidence for what is ahead.  We aren’t alone in this. We have someone in our lives who is there to answer questions, tell us their experiences and reassure us that in the end everything is okay.

As scripture tells us, seeking advice and wisdom brings success and blessings. We are encouraged to grow in community and I believe that rings true in all aspects of our lives, especially in marriage. 

Before I started pre marriage counseling I really had no opinion. I wasn’t a fan of someone judging my relationship and feared that it wasn’t going to get the over all approval. 

After these past weeks, I have realized that it isn’t a program to get a stamp of approval but to assist in better equipping us. (Hebrews 13:21) Those wiser than us have blessed us with the ability to have community and guidance. It would be foolish to not take advantage of it. God gives us the blessing of marriage as a picture of his love for the church. He never allows us to face any of his situations unprepared and ill equipped. We have the resources, why no use them?!

Pre marriage counseling has been a wonderful experience so far. It’s not easy or always happy but encourages us to dig deep and expose everything from our wounds to our dreams. However, it has also helped Justin and I to get on and stay on the same page in so many areas.
No matter what your feelings are on the subject, if God is in the center, you will always succeed. He blesses the faithful. Being able to get a does of reality has helped to calm down those fairy tale emotions and put marriage in a realistic perspective. This is the real deal! Getting a taste of the truth has confirmed this isn’t an emotion- based decision but one we are willing to work towards no matter what. I believe happily ever after can exist but with a lot of work, faith and trust in our God above!


Anonymous said...

Hey there! I am new to the faith and I was wondering if you could write a post about what it means to be "God-fearing." I have always heard this term, but never really understood what it means. Is it really good to "fear" God?

Hannah said...

Oh most definitely! I would love too!
What a great great question. One I have asked many times before! There are so many "terms" that float around with the faith that aren't necessarily explained very well!
Thank you for your comment! God bless!