Noted counselor and author Norman Wright is perhaps the guru of premarital counseling, having written and spoken extensively on this subject. He discussed his views during an interview on my radio broadcast some years ago and made several significant observations.
1. Couples should not announce their engagement or select a wedding date until at least half of the counseling sessions are completed. That way they can gracefully go their separate ways if unresolvable conflicts and problems emerge.
2. Couples need to think through the implications of their decisions regarding children. For example, when an engaged man and woman indicate they intend to have three children, each three years apart, they will not be alone at home for twenty-six more years once the first child is born! Couples often are stunned at hearing this. They then proceed to talk about how they will nurture their relationship and keep it alive throughout the parenting years. This is a healthy interaction.
3. Spiritual incompatibility is very common in couples today. The man and woman may share the same belief system, but one partner is often relatively immature while the other is well-seasoned. In those instances, couples should pray together silently for three to four minutes a day, and then share their prayers out loud.
After they are married, Wright recommends they ask one another each morning, "How can I pray for you today?" At the end of the day they are instructed to ask again about the issues raised in the morning and to pray about them together. That's not a bad way to handle stress in any relationship!
4. Another frequent source of conflict is the continuation of parental dependency in one or both partners. This problem is more likely to occur if an individual has never lived away from home. In those cases, additional measures must be taken to lessen the dependency. Living arrangements are changed so that the person cooks his/her own meals, does the laundry, and exercises independence in other ways. Parental overprotection can be a marriage killer if not recognized and handled properly.
5. Many loving parents today are paying for premarital counseling as a gift to an engaged son or daughter. I think this is an excellent idea--and may be the greatest contribution mothers and fathers will ever make to long-term marriage in the next generation.
In addition to premarital counseling, another wonderful way to eliminate the unpleasant surprises of early married life is a program called Engaged Encounter. Offered by many church denominations, it is a weekend retreat during which fiancés learn to communicate and understand each other better. Having participated with Shirley in a Marriage Encounter program based on similar concepts, I can attest to its value. For us, that weekend was a highlight of our lives together. I wouldn't take anything for the memory of that shared experience. Again, I strongly recommend Engaged Encounter to every couple planning a wedding in the future.
Well, the point of this discussion has been to help young brides and grooms begin their marital relationships on the right foot. Premarital counseling and Engaged Encounter are two great ways to start. Without specific effort to overcome the barriers to understanding, the honeymoon can be a blind date with destiny.
There is a better way!
From Love For A Lifetime by Dr. James Dobson.
From Dr. Dobson’s book Request this resource HERE.