If you’re engaged, you’re probably already asking the question What are we going to do for premarital counseling?
I remember asking that question. My now-husband and I were wondering if we should go through a video course or a book, and who we should meet with to talk about all the questions.
Along the way, we stumbled upon some very surprising advice that caused us to do premarital counseling a little differently.
We were sitting down to dinner one night with my parents, when my dad said, “Premarital counseling can be helpful. But I think it’s even more helpful to find a mentor couple for the first year of marriage.”
We’d never heard of finding a mentor couple! We’d always assumed premarital counseling would mean meeting with a pastor and his wife for a few weeks prior to getting married. We’d talk through a variety of questions and get their feedback.
But my dad said, “When your mom and I were engaged, we did premarital counseling, and it was fine. It’s helpful to make sure you’ve talked through all the right questions. But it would have been way more helpful for us if we’d had an older mentor couple who we continued meeting with for the first year of marriage.”
He explained it this way: No matter how much you prepare in premarital counseling, no matter how many questions you answer, you still don’t know what it’s going to be like once you’re married.
- You don’t really know what issues you’ll face.
- You don’t know what unexpected struggles and tension will arise.
And a mentor couple can help you work through each of those things as they arise.
So that’s what my husband and I did. Honestly, we had already talked through a lot of the premarital questions we could find, so we decided to be creative.
We found a couple who had been married 35 years and still really liked being around each other. This couple didn’t know either of us very well, which enabled them to be objective in their feedback instead of siding with one person.
During our engagement, we met each month to talk through a few premarital questions, but mostly to talk about any issues we were struggling with in our relationship. We got real, deep advice into our particular struggles.
After we got married, we continued meeting with that couple. Each month, we’d come over for dinner with an issue or two that was causing friction in our relationship. Maybe it was a topic we’d tried to reconcile over and over, but we were both still frustrated and hurt by it.
This couple was very wise, so instead of telling us what to do, they helped us figure out what questions to ask, how to talk about the issue and how to reach our own conclusions.
And that’s why I’m so glad we did premarital counseling a little differently.
While asking the right questions before you get married is extremely important, I think it’s just as important to have a support system in place for that first year of marriage.
Joining two lives together takes wisdom and hard work. It can be difficult at times, and you just don’t know what it’s going to be like. You can ask all the right questions and guess as to what issues you’ll struggle with, but you don’t really know until you’re living together day in and day out.
That’s why, if you’re engaged, I would highly recommend this approach.
Instead of just doing premarital counseling for a few weeks or months before the wedding, find an official “mentor couple” who can meet with you a few times before the wedding (to do the premarital questions) and also for the year following your wedding. See if you can meet once a month to share your struggles and get their input.
This approach to premarital counseling can really help you, just as it did for us.