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Pre-Marital Counseling: What do you think about...?

Posted by Joshua Claycamp on with 1 Comments

One of the special joys of being a pastor is having the privilege of celebrating marriage and getting to watch new families begin within my congregation.

One of the highlights of counseling comes when you get to sit down and talk through things with the couple as they prepare for their special day. It occurred to me that there isn't much out there publicly available on this topic from the various churches within Kamloops, so I thought I would post a little bit of the material that I use in my pre-marital counseling so that couples who are thinking about taking the next step can just have something to frame their discussions as they ponder the future.

Here is the letter that I give to my nearly weds as they enter my office on their first day of premarital counseling:

Dear [Nearly Weds],

As you think about getting married, I’m sure there are a million thoughts running through your head. What will it be like living with that special someone? How will my life change?  What will we do as a couple? How will the world see us? How will we raise our kids?

Maybe you have some darker fears regarding the future that you aren't even willing to admit to friends and family. When I first decided to propose to my wife, Shanti, I was convinced that I would do something in the first year that would ruin our marriage. I was terrified of it. I’d heard a preacher say once, “If Samson, the strongest man in the Bible, Solomon, the wisest man in the Bible, and David, the man with a heart like God’s, all had issues with women and faced wrecked marriages and wrecked homes, what makes you think you’re going to escape it?” I knew I wasn't as strong as Samson. I wasn't smart like Solomon. I also strongly doubted that I had a heart for God like King David did. I felt it was inevitable that I would mess up our marriage.

These thoughts and fears are perfectly normal. I have some good news: by God’s grace, with careful planning and a strong commitment to Jesus Christ through His Word, you can have an amazing marriage!

As you prepare for marriage, I’d like to encourage you to talk to one another about your expectations regarding the first year of marriage. I present to you a list of ten items that I strongly encourage you to talk about in the weeks ahead. Make sure you can agree on these topics. You may not agree on everything right away, but you should discuss your differences, you should evaluate these topics in light of the Scriptures, and you should arrive at a consensus on these issues as soon as possible.

So... What do you think about…?

1. Theology & God

What do you believe about . . . everything?

Perhaps read through the Bridge Baptist Church Statement of Faith to see where each other is on various biblical doctrines.

Discover how you form your views and opinions. What is the reasoning-believing process? How do you intellectually arrive at your understanding of faith and what the Scriptures say? How do you handle the Bible? Do you approach it from a historical grammatical perspective, do you read it in context, or do you just try to interpret it 'spiritually' ?

How do we deal with differences over these issues?

2. Worship & Devotion

How important is corporate worship? Other participation in church life?  

How important is it to be part of a small accountability/support group? Do we feel the need to go to Sunday School or a mid-week Life Group? Why or why not?

What is the importance of music in life and worship? Do we have strongly different opinions on the 'style' of worship?

What are your daily personal devotional practices? Prayer, reading, meditation, scripture memorization?

What would our family devotions look like? Who leads out in this?

Are we doing this now in an appropriate way: praying together about our lives and future, reading the Bible together?

How do we deal with differences of opinion over these issues?

3. Husband & Wife

What is the meaning of headship and submission in the Bible and in our marriage?

If we practice submission and headship in a particular way in our marriage, will this impact the churches we attend? Should we expect the church to support certain beliefs of headship and submission?

What are the expectations about situations where one of you might be alone with someone of the opposite sex?  

How are tasks shared in the home: cleaning, cooking, washing dishes, yard work, car upkeep, repairs, shopping for food, and household stuff?

What are the expectations for togetherness? Talk a lot about this and often, even years after you are married. This one always comes up for review sooner or later!

What is an ideal non-special evening?

Who does the checkbook—or are there two checkbooks? Two bank accounts? If there are two, why? Should there be two?

How do we deal with differences over these issues?

4. Children & Parenting

If and when, should we have children? Why?

Will we use birth control medication or techniques?

How many children?

How far apart?

Would we consider adoption?

What are the standards of behavior?

What are the appropriate ways to discipline them?

What are the expectations of time spent with them and when they go to bed?

What signs of affection will you show them?

What about school? Home school? Christian school? Public school?

How do we deal with differences over these issues?

5. Lifestyle & Home

Own a home or not? Why?  

What kind of neighborhood? Why?

How many cars? New? Used?  

View of money in general. How much to the church?

How do you make money decisions?

Where will you buy clothes: Department store? Thrift Stores? In between? Why?

How do we deal with differences over these issues?

6. Entertainment  & Fun

How much money should we spend on entertainment?

How often should we eat out? Where?

What kinds of vacations are appropriate and helpful for us?

How many toys? Snowmobile, boat, cabin?

Should we have a television? Where? What is fitting to watch? How much?

What are the criteria for Movies and theater and video/DVD? What will our guidelines be for the kids?

 How do we deal with differences over these issues?

7. Conflict & Stress

What makes you angry?

How do you handle your frustration or anger?

Who should bring up an issue that is bothersome?

What if we disagree both about what should be done, AND whether it is serious?

Will we go to bed angry at each other?

What is our view of getting help from friends or counselors?

 How do we deal with differences over these issues?

8. Work & Finance

Who is the main breadwinner?

Should the wife work outside the home? Before kids? With kids at home? After kids?

What are your views of daycare for children?

What determines where you will locate? Job? Whose job? Church? Family?

How do we deal with differences over these issues?

9. Friends & Family

Is it good to do things with friends but without fiancé, or without spouse?

What will you do if one of you really likes to hang out with so and so and the other doesn’t?

How do we deal with differences over these issues?

10. Health and Sickness

Do you have, or have you had any, sicknesses or physical problems that could affect our relationship? (Allergies, cancer, eating disorders, venereal/sexually transmitted disease, etc.)

How do you think about exercise and healthy eating?

Do you have any habits that adversely affect health?

How do we deal with differences over these issues?

Tags: kamloops, marriage, wedding, premarital counseling, church, theology

Comments

Anonymous Jan 24, 2019 10:20pm

Hold it... where's the answer key?

Name: