Planning a wedding is a big deal. There are so many elements to consider as you bring everything together for a weekend that will change your life, for the rest of your life! You’ve got to consider venues and participants, coordinators and caterers, photographers and videographers, and exactly how you’re going to explain that particular member of your family to everybody else. You’re thinking about dresses and suits, invitations and programs, hors d’oeuvres and cakes, seating charts and favors, and perhaps most importantly – developing the perfect hashtag for the event. There’s a lot to it!
But if you’re like most people, with all of the focus you’re putting into your wedding, you’re missing something really important. You’re investing remarkable amounts of time, energy, and attention into your wedding weekend—and you should! But keep in mind that your wedding weekend will last 50-60 hours, and then you will be looking ahead to the next 50-60 years. You’d be wise to put some energy into preparing for that part, too.
Consider the following five reasons you should strongly consider making pre-marital counseling a part of your wedding preparation.
1) Marriage is amazing, but it’s not easy.
I love being married to my wife. She loves me, encourages me, challenges me, and enhances me. Over the years, we have been able to build a great life together, and we’ve been blessed with a couple of kids who look (and act) a lot like us, bless their hearts. It’s amazing. But it’s also hard sometimes. We have come together to live life as a single unit, and sometimes we have different perspectives about how best to do that. We often approach situations differently, think about things differently, process information differently, and respond to various circumstances differently. Every time we perceive and approach something differently, an opportunity for conflict arises.
Pre-marital counseling offers the opportunity to recognize those differences before the heat of life causes them to flare up into major issues in your marriage. You need to get a good glimpse at how your future husband/wife will approach life, perceive realities, think through challenges, process information, and respond to various circumstances. While some of that has happened as you’ve dated and gotten to know each other, a good pre-marital counselor will be able to coax some more information out that will only help you know your mate better before you tie the knot. The better you know each other, the better you’ll be able to work together effectively to build your life as one.
2) The person you’re marrying is not perfect.
Whether or not this comes as a shock to you, you have not found the perfect person. They’re wonderful, for sure, but they are not perfect. They have hurts, habits, and hang-ups that you might not be aware of just yet. Even if you are aware of their struggles, your overwhelming infatuation might cause you to minimize those issues right now. But they will emerge eventually, and they will likely create problems in your marriage.
Pre-marital counseling offers the opportunity to get to know your soon-to-be husband/wife at a deeper level than you do right now. It allows you to see more accurately who they really are—issues and all—and it gives you a chance to extend grace to them for areas of struggle in their lives. It also allows you to overcome potential areas of struggle in your marriage before they ever arise.
3) You are not perfect.
Again, whether or not this comes as a shock to you, you are not the perfect person. You are wonderful, but you are not perfect. You have hurts, habits, and hang-ups that your future husband/wife is likely not aware of right now. None of us like to face our faults, but we must be fair to the person we’re about to marry by showing them who we really are—even the parts that we’d rather just mask. Marriage has a way of removing even the most well-crafted and strongly protected masks as life’s challenges get real.
Pre-marital counseling offers the opportunity for you to do some introspective soul-searching, and it gives you the chance to be more thorougly honest and transparent with your mate. As they get to know you at a deeper level, they’ll be able to extend grace to you, and your relationship will grow exponentially stronger.
Bottom line, pre-marital counseling opens you to the possibility of going into your marriage without anything behind your back. You’ll know your husband/wife better than you do now, and they’ll know you better, too. The sort of trust you’ll need for your marriage to thrive cannot be built on any foundation other than transparent truthfulness.
4) Your marriage will face predictable difficulties.
No two marriages are exactly the same, but all marriages face similar challenges along the way. Every marriage must navigate challenges in communication, finances, boundaries with in-laws and friends, routine and boredom, keeping the spark alive, and a host of other common issues. The good news is that, since these are issues common to nearly every marriage, there is solid wisdom to help you anticipate, avoid, and work through them. You can benefit from the wisdom of others and greatly reduce the amount of pressure these common issues will be able to exert on your marriage.
Pre-marital counseling gives you a chance to look ahead to common issues that could be—but don’t have to be—detrimental to your relationship. You can learn from wisdom gained by other couples the hard way, and if you do, you will be able to avoid some of the battles others have faced.
5) Your marriage is worth the investment.
Pre-martial counseling will push you and stretch you in encouraging and challenging ways. It will require you to look introspectively into your own life, and it will require you to be appropriately transparent with the one to whom you are about to entrust your life. It will also give your mate the opportunity to be appropriately transparent with you before they entrust their life to you. You will have the opportunity to get to know one another better, and you will have the opportunity to extend grace to each other for past issues before you ever have to deal with current issues as they arise. You will further cultivate what will become your closest, most intimate relationship in the world, and you will be better prepared to conquer every challenge that life will present.
A Final Word.
Every marriage faces difficulties. At some point, you will recognize the value of wisdom shared by an external source – whether that is counseling, reaching out to a friend, or reading articles online. So many couples come across that wisdom in the midst of their struggle and think, “I wish someone had told us about this before we got married!”
You have a choice. Someone can tell you about these things before you get married. Will you be the couple that proactively seeks to build the best marriage you can by investing in pre-marital counseling? Or will you be that couple that wishes you had invested in pre-marital counseling as you try to fix issues that you could’ve anticipated and for which you could have prepared? As you plan for an unforgettable wedding weekend that will be a phenomenal 50-60 hours, consider investing some time and energy into preparing for a phenomenal 50-60 years, too!