9 Reasons Christian Couples Should Consider Premarital Counseling

9 Reasons Christian Couples Should Consider Premarital Counseling

Getting married is a huge milestone in anyone’s life, but for the Christian it comes with certain spiritual and personal expectations that make it as serious an undertaking as it is a joyful one. As a symbol in the world for what Jesus’ relationship is like with His Church, Christians should not pursue marriage lightly, but reverently.

One of the best ways to take the relationship seriously is to undergo pre-marital counseling while planning the wedding. Most pastors will require some level of counseling before agreeing to marry a couple. Even if they don’t, getting with an older couple you trust, a professional counsellor, or some other healthy avenue is something all couples should consider depending on their needs. It can seem like an inconvenience, especially during the chaotic engagement period, but it is worth it to build a firm foundation for your relationship.

Here are 9 reasons Christian couples should consider premarital counseling.

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couple talking in marriage counseling

1. Have Your Relationship Tested by Someone Who Cares about You

Sometimes friends and family can be a little too supportive, or on the other hand too confrontational. A strong relationship can withstand scrutiny and testing, but relatives may not be the right people to ask the tough questions that will encourage you to really grow your relationship.

“How deeply have you thought about marriage? Have you gone through anything serious together? There seem to be different expectations, let’s explore.” A pastor or counsellor will be invested in seeing you succeed, but he or she will be far enough away from your day to day life that they may have a more objective eye. It can be a safe space to undergo relationship scrutiny without the sting of personal history and baggage.

2. Be Honest about Any Spiritual or Sin Struggles You Have

If someone is struggling with sin or a spiritual issue, the time to start addressing it is before you walk down the aisle, not after. Once vows are made, the dynamic in the relationship changes. If someone struggles with pornography, start an honest conversation now, and develop safeguards. If you have different denominational backgrounds that disagree on certain ideas – for example if one of you believes in infant baptism and the other does not – address it before it becomes a chink in the relationship.

The problems may not be solved by the wedding day, but it gives the marriage a stronger chance at success if the man and the woman have entered it honestly, flaws and all.

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Parents with adult children at wedding

3. Explore How Your Families Were Different, and What You Should Take and Leave from Your Upbringing

It is amazing how much one’s childhood affects the habits, patterns, and unconscious behaviors of adulthood. Some people may have never seen their parents fight, while others may have been subjected to screaming matches on a daily basis. Some families made quality time out of road trips, while others enjoyed dinner in front of the TV. Some people had healthy families, while others overcame abuse.

Spending time with an objective third party examining what traditions and behaviors should be brought into this new marriage – and which ones should be left at the door – can help facilitate compromise and will spare a lot of future heartache and angst.

4. It Is a Chance to Ask Questions

Everyone has questions when they are about to take on a new adventure. Marriage is such a big undertaking that people will inevitably have questions. Counselling provides the space to ask an expert about it, even uncomfortable ones.

“What if I break wind in front of my spouse? How often should we have sex? Should we get a plant and keep it alive before we have kids?”

There are no stupid questions in marital counseling, but it may be foolish to pass on the opportunity to get wisdom and input on the random, odd thoughts passing through your mind during wedding preparations.

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couple arguing

5. Talk through Any Doubts

People get cold feet, and people get engaged to the wrong person. But are those doubts just fear, or is it the nudging of the Holy Spirit that something is wrong? Don’t get married in that uncertainty. Use the opportunity premarital counseling presents to work through the concerns and fears. It could just be anxiety from a new experience or the stress of wedding planning; there is also a possibility that someone is not prepared for the commitment, or that God is trying to tell the couple this union is not His will.

Through prayer and the counsel of another, this can be clarified. In fact, for anyone experiencing that level of doubt, it may be wise to postpone the wedding date and go through weekly or bi-weekly relationship counseling until the fears are resolved one way or another.

6. If There Is Abuse, It Is an Opportunity for Someone to Spot the Problems before You Make Vows

The reality of life is that just because someone sits in a church it does not mean they are not capable of terrible actions. There are abusers who disguise themselves well. They can appear spiritual, compassionate, and supportive. They may even be ordained for service in the church.

While premarital counseling does not guarantee that an abuser may be spotted before the wedding, it does increase the chance of someone recognizing something is wrong in the relationship. If abuse starts after the wedding, separation is a great first step for ending the abuse, but if a pastor or counselor expresses concern about mental, spiritual, or physical safety during this process, take it seriously.

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Married couple embracing lovingly

7. Set Boundaries and Initial Rules for Conflicts That May Arise

Eventually, couples develop their own way of handling conflict, though some are certainly healthier than others. Getting counseling on how to handle conflict is good, but it is also an opportunity to set guidelines with one another for the early stages of the relationship. Laying out rules of engagement before the first fight will prevent it from derailing the conversation, and each person will have tools under their belt to handle this new side of the person they love.

All couples have disagreements and even arguments, but if two people enter into marriage prepared for that reality, they will be better equipped to handle those moments.

8. Discuss Expectations about Sex

The big awkward thing in any new marriage is sex, even if one or both partners have had intimacy before this relationship. Some people know so little about sex that they experience fear and guilt on their wedding night, while others are so experienced they are jaded when one partner is uncomfortable with their desires.

Getting biblical wisdom about physical relations before the wedding night is a good way to understand what it is and its purpose. For couples who were having sex before marriage, it is a chance to take time to draw close to God and re-orient their relationship – and make sure sex has not clouded their decision to marry. It is also a chance to discuss what acts each person is okay with exploring, particularly if one partner has been intimate while another is still a virgin. Reading the Song of Solomon together may also be a good exercise. Professional counselors and (most) pastors are prepared to have these uncomfortable conversations.

Sex should be a joy in marriage, not a source of tension or discomfort.

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married couple managing finances

9. Get on the Same Page about Finances

Some families incur massive debt, while others never even open a credit card. Some are okay leasing new cars every two years while others buy old beaters they drive until they fall apart. Money is one of the number one causes of tension in a marriage. Being prepared with financial expectations and goals will solve a lot of problems.

Again, honesty is essential in this situation; if one partner already has a lot of debt, and the fiancé(e) doesn’t know, now is the time to tell the truth. If this subject is out of the pastor’s depth, or if there is not enough time to address this important subject, seek additional assistance. Especially for people getting married after they’ve established careers and personal spending habits, having a joint financial plan is going to make a big difference in the future success of the marriage.

Marriage can be one of the great joys that God blesses someone with if it is taken with appropriate prayer, consideration, and patience. Taking time during the engagement period to grow close through the wisdom and the guidance of a trusted person can be a huge blessing. It is not a guarantee there will be no problems in the relationship, but it is an important step in growing closer to one another.

Chester, Tim. Gospel Centered Marriage. eBook: The Good Book Company, 2011.
Miller, Keith and Patricia Miller. Quick Scripture Refernce for Counseling Couples. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2017.
Rubio, Julie Hanlon. A Christian Theology of Marriage and Family. New York: Paulist Press, 2003.

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Bethany Verrett is a freelance writer who uses her passion for God, reading, and writing to glorify God. She and her husband have lived all over the country serving their Lord and Savior in ministry. She has a blog on graceandgrowing.com.