Friday, December 11, 2009

Pre-marital counseling...why every couple should participate

Disclaimer: This is a little longer than usual, but I feel it is an extremely important issue regarding engaged couples. Enjoy :)

So being raised in a Christian home and church, it was very important to my fiance and I to have a Christ centered wedding ceremony. Since I am very involved in my local church community and have volunteered working with youth and young adults for almost 10 years now, I have gotten to know the staff and pastors extremely well. But when it came time for us to decide who would officiate our ceremony, I knew I wanted someone who knew me personally but would also click with my fiance whom he didn't know. My junior/high school pastor from over 20 years ago is only a couple years older than my fiance and they share so many of the same interests. They both have personalities that just click so well and I absolutely LOVE Lyle so I was thrilled when he agreed to marry us. Of course, most Christian pastors will insist that couples go through approximately 6 months of pre-marital counseling or mentoring in preparation for the big day.

If you know anything about this, it can take many shapes and forms and honestly, my honey was opposed to it being that he has been married before and he just felt like it was an unnecessary waste of time. But of course, Lyle insisted and so we eased John into it...and I did in fact want it as well. The point is to get you both seeing and thinking from the other's persepectives and thinking about things that as a dating couple you don't consider will change when you are a married couple. Things like how to raise your children, how to integrate your spiritual faith, how to handle money issues, where to live, who will cook and clean, who will be the main bread winner, etc? Simple things that seem so silly but are really life altering and affecting issues.

To start off, we took an online test that assesses each of you individually and as a couple. Each person takes the test at your leisure and then your pastor gets the results and reviews them with you. I asked him if he has ever turned anyone away after seeing their results and he said he's definitely had some issues with some couples not meshing well.

The results of the test provide you with percentages that reflect your relationship strengths and weaknesses...the main point is to get you talking honestly and effectively to work on the weak areas and celebrate the strengths between you. The categories are things like Communication, Spiritual Beliefs, Relationship Roles, Family & Friends, Sexual Expectations, Leisure Activities, Financial Mgmt, & Conflict Resolution. The test asks questions with rating scale type answers: Sometimes, Rarely, Never, etc.

Our scores were definitely weak in some areas like Financial Mgmt (only 40%) but we scored 100% in Communication, Family/Friends & Spiritual Beliefs. And we did okay in Conflict Resolution. So our pastor was really pleased to see that we communicate and respect each other well. For me, it wasn't anything that was going to make or break our relationship but rather a way to affirm that we are on the right path and truly work to make our relationship successful.

It also tests things like each person's assertiveness, confidence, avoidance, dominance, etc. We both scored very low in avoidance and dominance which means that we don't feel like the other tries to control us and we are willing to confront issues between us. The test also measures things like stress levels and flexibility as well as how close and connected you feel to each other.

Now don't get me wrong, no test is ever 100% fail-proof. But I truly enjoyed it and in our next pre-marital counseling session later this month, we will be discussing the issue of finances since we scored so low on that as a couple.

If you are interested, the test we took and more information about how to participate and use it if you would like can be found by clicking here. There is a small fee involved but it is so worth it!

So...what are your thoughts on this? Have any of you begun this part of your pre-wedding process and what has your experience been so far?


Nicole-Lynn said...

We're also doing pre marital counseling. It's more of a course. It will be 13 weeks long, every Sunday we'll meet with some professionals and other couples through a local church. We start in January so we're really looking forward to it! I know it will open our eyes on a lot of different topics and it is a great foundation for our marriage!

Brittany said...

We are getting married in the Catholic church so it is required that you go through pre marital counseling. When we first started last month, we were a little nervious but now we absolutley love it. It's a whole hour just talking about the relationship. Both B and I love it and look forward to going everytime. I definatley think every couple should do it!

thehickbride said...

Since we don't live in a city with either of our Pastors from our lives, or the one who is marrying us, we came up with a different solution. We talked to all three Pastors and they each came up with a list of questions, discussions and activities to do before the wedding. We're doing this on our own time, whenever we want. (although we do set times each week). It's our solution to not being near any Pastor that we know! And I can say, we're both loving it!

PartyPlannerGal said...

I have heard really good things about a husband and wife duo that offers pre-marital counseling sessions here in San Francisco. My fiance is Hindu (non-practicing), and I am Catholic. Since we will be getting married outside, our wedding will not be officiated by a Catholic priest (the church doesn't really do outdoor weddings), so not Catholic counseling for us. The husband and wife counseling is non-secular, and gets rave reviews on Yelp and Weddingbee. I think counseling is very important, so I am definitely going to push for this.

Bicoastal Bride said...

You already know that I agree counseling is so important. Stephen and I already went through the required counseling through the Catholic Church, and we’re also doing some other questionnaires on our own. I’m all for anything that fosters as much open and honest communication as possible, whether through a religious or secular program.

SG said...

My mom works at a church so her boss who is the pastor is the one that will marry us since neither of us belong to a church.

He requires pre-marital counseling as well and similar to yours we'll need to take a test individually to determine what areas we need to focus on. Then we'll have 3-4 meetings before the wedding.

I'm excited about it, I think every couple should do some form of this.

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

We did it and TOTALLY recommend it. Ours was basic - we did the test and our priest reviewed the results over a few sessions. It was helpful to really get our views out in the open. Our priest said we had the best results of couples he counseled - we were happy about that. :)

Crystal @ MyCarmelWedding said...

We're doing RCIA which is already sparking convos on how we want to start our family and someday raise a family. Being married in a Catholic church also requires a engaged encounter retreat weekend where you discuss similar topics (finance, conflict resolution, expectations of both partners, etc.). I think it's a brilliant idea and all couples should do it.
A friend of mine who has been married about 5 years or so went back and re-did that test with her hubby after they had a baby. They were having a hard time communicating and taking that test again and talking with their pastor enabled them to work on their marriage. Great post!

Miss T said...

People that don't do any pre marital counseling are crazy! One of the best things we've done. Good to know you're on the same page to start the new chapter of your lives.

Gracie said...

I think doing a pre marriage course is great! Jason and I have down two sessions. We have one more to do. We did a questionnaire and apparently did quite good in all areas. But are going to be focusing on the conflict resolution area next session.

Of course just because we scored well it doesn't mean we don't need help in all areas but it's nice to know that we mesh quite well :)

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