At the end of last year, I married a sweet young couple in our church. It came time after the dust settled to meet with them to see how married life was treating them, which I did this week. I try to do this about 3–6 months post-marriage: allow them to get settled, and give them plenty of time to fight and make up before intruding. Here is my general approach to try to assess how they are doing and learn best how to shepherd them through this first year. 4 suggestions:
1) Sit down with them in their home
It is good to meet with them, but set a time where you are able to be in their home. Hopefully, a woman’s touch does nothing but improve the home of a bachelor, and you are able to see how they have set up their home. Before marriage, they were meeting in my office for pre-marital counseling, discussing what it would be like if they had their own home. Now they do, and it is good to enter in on their turf and celebrate that.
2) Ask questions and watch reactions
Come ready to ask questions of them both and how they are adjusting. Ask about the greatest joy of marriage for each of them, then the greatest challenge. Ask about how their families are handling post-wedding life. Ask about what is the biggest surprise they did not see coming about marriage. Ask these kinds of questions, then watch the reactions of each of them as they answer and listen to the other answer. You will learn a lot from those exchanges.
3) Remind them of truth shared in pre-marital counseling
Pre-marital counseling is profitable on several levels, but one limitation is that so much is addressed in the hypothetical. You are talking about being married, without being married yet. Now they are really married and living marriage out. Refresh some of those conversations that were had to help them view those issues from the lens of a now-married couple. Share again about the truths of Scripture they are now called by God to walk in by his grace. Remind them how the gospel now applies to their daily interactions with each other they shared with you.
4) Speak encouragement where you are encouraged
Anyone who is married knows it is an experience you never stop learning, growing, and maturing from. A young, newly married couple is just skimming the surface of this learning experience. Yet look for those beginning signs that they are getting it and encourage them in those things. There was much I was encouraged by with this young couple. Do not leave their home before speaking those encouraging words to them. They need it, and they are looking to hear those words from their pastor who has already walked through much with them.
Pastors, these are just suggestions. However you choose to handle the care of your newly married couples, make sure you are meeting with them in some capacity a few months into their marriage and throughout the year periodically. Make sure they are applying the truths that you spent many sessions speaking to them beforehand. Encourage them where you are encouraged. Then be grateful you have an eager couple desiring to be shepherded by you in this very important first year. Not all do.
Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church. To find out more, please visit Practical Shepherding.