The Last 3 of 7 Premarital TopicsIf you are unmarried and are thinking about becoming engaged to be married, or if you are engaged and want to prepare well for marriage, it is important to appreciate that premarital counseling is a key feature of long-lasting marriages. In my previous article, I discussed four key premarital counseling topics and the reasons why they are worth considering. These were personality and temperament mix, family backgrounds, communication and conflict resolution skills, and God’s vision for marriage, which included the purpose of marriage, roles within it, and children. In this article, I discuss three more core topics that are important to address in premarital counseling.
5) Approaches to Finances
Many arguments in marriage revolve around financial concerns. Jesus says, “You can’t serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24b). It therefore pays to discuss your individual approaches to finances, to identify similarities and differences, and to decide on your practices and expectations. Engaging each other on money matters can be a golden opportunity. A Christian counselor can provide resources that enable you to do this with a faith-based commitment. These conversations can go a long way toward avoiding later and more intense discussions. How do we plan to make money, spend it, save it, and give it away? How do we differ in our spending habits? Will we use a budget? Who will be responsible for paying bills, shopping, and managing finances?
6) Cultivating Sexual IntimacyScripture enjoins married couples to a life-long delight in the spouse of their youth (Proverbs 5:18). You will belong to each other and your sexual intimacy is a gift to each other. What do we look forward to concerning our physical relationship? What might we feel anxious about? What constitutes ‘good sex’? How do we cultivate healthy sexuality? What about our past sexual experiences? These are all good questions that a professional can help you navigate.
7) Your Personal and Common Spirituality in Marriage
A person’s spirituality is an expression of his or her relationship with God and with others, and a reflection of their character. Who I am on the inside affects all my relationships. How can we encourage one another’s spiritual growth and how can we pursue spirituality together? The bible speaks of guarding one’s heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Spirituality is the out-working of one’s heart and marriage is the only human relationship that is described as ‘one-flesh’. In what sense do husband and wife become one spiritually? What common practices can build our relationship with God?
Christian Counseling to Prepare for Marriage
Your approaches to finances, the cultivating of sexual intimacy, and your personal and common spirituality in marriage round out the key topics that are important to address in premarital counseling. As a Christian counselor, I have seen how important it is to cover these before one is married, as part of a continuing conversation about the shared aspects of life together. Premarital counseling can provide a great setting to start, jump start, or deepen these conversations with the help of a professional who is committed to marriage and skilled in facilitation. In addition, you may also find that other topics branch off from these seven key topics. Premarital counseling can also benefit those who may be re-marrying, for it provides an opportunity to process what was learned in previous relationships, as well as to be proactive about creating a different experience in a current relationship.
“Couple chatting in restaurant,” courtesy of stockphotosforfree.com; “Love Birds,” courtesy of Geert, morguefile.com; “img20120810_02042059,” courtesy of Patrick Denker, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)