The Importance of Premarital Counseling

One of the joys we have in our counseling center is doing pre-marital counseling.  It is a very uplifting and encouraging thing for our staff to be in on a pre-emptive strike against marriage counseling.  One of the questions we ask our marriage counselees is if they had any pre-marital counseling.  Sadly, most tell us they had 1 or 2 sessions with the person who was to marry them right before the wedding which explains in part why they have need for marriage counseling.

It is appalling that there is so much focus on the music and the dress and the reception and so little on what happens in the marriage ceremony. It is a set up for disaster and any pastor who is willing to marry a couple without pre-marital counseling is complicit in the marital mess that follows.

A couple of the best books on marriage basics I know of are Wayne Mack’s Strengthening Your Marriage (1977) followed by his Your Family, God’s Way (1991). We use both of these extensively in our ministry.

There are a few specific common issues that bring people to the counselor’s office and I will outline them for you here.

The first has to be a misunderstanding of what marriage truly is.  It is not a partnership; it is not based on a contract. Marriage is a permanent covenantal relationship between a man and woman.

But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mark 10:6-9 (NKJV)
Notice that there is no room in the marriage for a parent, “the boys”, “alone time”, “my girlfriends” or other people inserting themselves into the marriage.  Marriage is intended to be 1 husband and 1 wife.  In biblical terms it means they leave and cleave.  The spouse becomes the primary relationship for husband and wife.

This is not always the case.  Parental relationships and friendships are to take a back seat to the marital one.  Opposite sex friendships must not be a part of married life because it is extremely dangerous and leads to adultery. This includes work friendships and Facebook friendships! Your spouse must be your best friend and the one you cleave to! If you do not have a close relationally intimate bond with them before marriage, what makes you think you will after?  The husband-wife relationship must be primary.

When there is no cleaving or oneness in a marriage there are going to be problems. In his book The Heart of Anger, Lou Priolo says, “Virtually all marriage and family problems can be traced back to a failure to leave one’s parents, cleave to one’s spouse, or become one flesh with one’s spouse.” (Lou Priolo, The Heart of Anger, (Calvary Press, 1997), pg.25)

Another marital problem is poor communication with respect to finances. We strongly discourage couples from having separate finances. In fact, to do so is a clear indication that there are underlying issues pertaining to trust, self-control, selfishness, and submission just to name a few things.

In a biblically centered marriage there is no “my money” and “my stuff” because it all belongs to God (Ps.24:1) and because when two people become one there is no more “mine” and “yours” because it is now “ours.”  Together husband and wife are stewards of God’s financial blessings and so they must trust each other to honor God with earning, spending, and saving.

A couple must develop a biblical philosophy of money. We know it is important to God because it is mentioned more than 2000 times in Scripture!

These are only two of the important issues covered in pre-marital counseling. If you know a couple planning a wedding, love them enough to insist they get good, solid counseling on all the aspects of marriage before they get too far into planning the big day.