Christian pre-marriage counseling is designed to fully prepare and equip couples who are considering marriage and make sure they discuss their positions on some very important issues which are often not given deep thought and could make or break a wedding vow. Sadly, a majority of Christians ignore the benefits that premarital counseling can provide, which include improving the quality of life of each spouse as well as the success rate for preventing divorce.
Some of the benefits that premarital counseling provide are ensuring that each person understands and agrees on their roles in the marriage. Going through counseling doesn’t mean you will never argue, but it will establish how couples resolve disputes, and it will encourage the couples to get any “sticky” discussions out of the way at the counseling sessions. The engaged couple may discuss issues such as perspectives on sexual intimacy, child-rearing, work life, dealing with parents, personal finances, and other issues that cause tension between so many married couples.
Defining Roles, Relationships and Responsibilities in a Christian Marriage
One of the many topics discussed in a Christian premarital counseling session is defining the success formula which God has given for a family – a blueprint which is based on roles, relationships and responsibilities. This does not mean that you always must adhere rigidly to your prescribed role, but it gives a sense of stability and security to the relationship to know what is expected of you.
For example, who has the “final say” in disputes? There are many Bible verses that address marriage and role expectations. Ephesians 5:22 in particular says that a wife should submit to her husband joyfully. The Bible also states that husbands should love their wives with the same passion they hold for Christ. For most Christian married couples, if a husband and wife are trying to find a solution to an important issue, the husband and wife will discuss the issue openly together and ideally come to an agreement together. If they still disagree, the husband is often who makes the final decision, while considering his wife’s input, of course.
Another major role to define are the day-to-day responsibilities. Will one or both spouses work outside the home? Who will hold primary responsibility for childcare, house maintenance, running errands, etc.? Will spouses consult each other before they make a major time commitment (such as a weekly dinner with friends)?
Christian Premarital Counseling Questions
Some major issues that Christian marriage counselors (or anyone else you choose to use as a facilitator, such as a pastor or priest) may bring up are:
- adultery always necessitate a divorce for you? What about crises of faith? Emotional infidelity? Will divorce ever be an option under any circumstances? If so, in which cases? For example, will
- If you are of different faiths or denominations, how will any children be raised? Who will be in charge of planning religious occasions for the child, such as baptisms, confirmations, communions, etc.?
- How will you decide if and when you want children? How many children? Will you use contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies? Will you consider adoption?
- How will you ensure your commitment to each other remains strong, even in the face of children, deaths of loved ones, stress, loss of job, financial problems, etc.?
- How will you maintain romantic and sexual intimacy? Will you set aside a certain amount of time each week for each other?
- What will you do if you have relationship troubles you cannot fix on your own? Will you seek help from a religious leader, marriage counselor, or other help?
- What are the expected roles in the marriage, such as those discussed above? Will/should the wife work? Will she work while having young children? What if the husband needs to go to school to advance his career?
- What will you do if you disagree on an important religious or moral issue?
Many of these questions are similar to traditional marriage counseling questions that may be asked after a married couple is struggling. By discussing these topics ahead of time, the couple will already know how they stand on important topics if the occasion arises. And in the unfortunate event that the couple does disagree on fundamental issues that would eventually break up their marriage, it’s best to find out now, before the wedding, when the separation can be done with minimal lasting pain.
However, in the vast majority of cases, premarital counseling can help Christian couples work through any underlying issues they might have, and help pave the way for a long, happy and lasting marriage together.