Importance of Pre-marital Counselling
This podcast is a repost, orginally published on Sept 2, 2017.
This week Pastor Priji and Pastor Rashmi continue with the Preparing for Marriage series focusing on the role of pre-marital counselling in preparing ourselves and opening our eyes to the reality of the relationship, the reality of ourselves and the reality of God being the only perfect One in a marriage.
Pastor Priji: One of the greatest reasons why a marriage fails is due to the lack of Godly parental figures. Getting pre-marital counselling is vital and not to be taken lightly. The foundation of marriage gets stronger by learning and heeding to counselling.
We used to, before marriage, meet pastors who advised us things we did not understand then, but now it has helped us.
Pastor Rashmi: Someone said that pre-marital counselling is like teaching swimming in a classroom, not in the water. It is true in the sense that no matter how much you learn about it, you wouldn’t understand it till you’re actually married. However the lessons come in handy in times of need in marriage.
Lot of failures in marriage happen due to failed expectations. Learning from couples in a successful Godly marriage helps you measure how much of your expectations are real or worth expecting. Marriage is not a utopia and is definitely not the solution to all problems in life. Counsel helps in setting the right expectations.
You are not perfect and therefore you cannot expect your spouse to be so. Only God is perfect and without Him in the equation it is not going to stay.
Pastor Priji: While helping couples understand each other and their partners through personality tests, we have found that they are generally of opposite natures, behaviour, habits and temper. They would not even know about it- even after dating for a considerable amount of time. This is so, because at that time, couples tend to get blind to each other’s faults.
It is in marriage that both begin to know each other as they live together and get comfortable being themselves. It is important, therefore, to go to a third person before marriage who can impartially let you know about your strengths and weaknesses as observed by them.
Along with preparing you for marriage, pre-marital counselling also tells you of the reality of marriage. This helps your decision to get married stronger or helps you avoid a wrong choice of person. It gives you a right understanding about marriage and the person you’re getting married to.
Go into marriage prepared to face the negative. Knowing the negatives helps you love them better by loving them in spite of their weaknesses.
Pastor Rashmi: As you understand that in marriage you’ll get to know the other in a deeper way, you must not forget you’re going to have to expose yourself as well. There should not be dark and hidden corners kept away.
Growing up, we have positive and negative examples of marriage and we tend to picture and decide on how to or how not to be in our own marriage. The more we think of not being something our parents have been, it is very likely we will be the same. It gets exposed only when it begins to manifest in the marriage.
Marriage is a neutral ground where two people are going to start afresh.
Pastor Priji: Though in India, it is a social stigma to visit a counsellor (being associated with mental issues, depression or a marital break up), we go for counselling though everything is good and it helps us understand us better.
Pastor Rashmi: In times of trouble and need, we find ourselves prepared and resourceful because of the counselling we have already gone through.
Pastor Priji: It is necessary not only before but also during, to have a mentor/couple who will speak life into your marriage. You don’t have to go to them for every decision that you make or let them be the lord of your marriage. You just need to be accountable to someone.
Our lives can be divided into four areas or boxes- firstly, the box that we and others know of ourselves, secondly, that which we know and others don’t (the hidden areas), thirdly, that which others know and we do not (the blind spots), and fourthly, that which neither we nor others know of ourselves. The more we get counselling and are more open, the more our hidden and blind areas come to light becoming more self aware.
Many times, in a conflict, we tend to hurt each other unintentionally being genuinely unaware of each others personalities and temperaments. It is therefore really helpful to be aware of what we do wrong.
You can approach your spiritual mentor or parent, but do not approach your parents or your spouse’s parents- not because they’re bad, but because they can be biased. Their opinions can also be emotional and not rational. A third person would not take a side and give advice for the good of the marriage- not for you or the spouse.
Pastor Rashmi: A marriage is between a man and a woman. They are different because they are made different. What is common sense to you might be not at all common to the other.
It may seem like a sexist comment to say men are of one category and women an other category. However, it is not to be suspended that intrinsically they are both different. You cannot strictly categorize the two, but there are generally a lot of things common to men and a lot of things common to women.
As the church we need to throw light on these distinctly unique qualities. Keeping aside our own interests, we need to pursue the God given foundation for marriage based on roles and responsibilities present in the Bible.
Marriage is not about you having fun. It is you taking responsibility. It takes work to do life with another person. You have to build the marriage up. It is serious business.
Pastor Priji: The greatest challenge for marriage is selfishness. Marriage is to cease us from being self centered and selfish. We need to rid ourselves of it. That is the whole agenda of pre-marital counselling- to make us realize it is not about serving ourselves. Marriage takes hard active work and it is real hard work to get rid of selfishness. It is going to require sacrifice, renewal of mind, change of speech, and change of sight.
In the rare case of someone truly having no one to counsel them, they can also seek pre-marital counselling through books, like Pastor Ashish Raichur’s that we have linked below, and go through it with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Rashmi: A married couple who have not been through counselling can go to couple fellowships with Godly married couples and learn from them. Ask questions and learn.
There is no perfect marriage but there is a pure marriage founded in God and His Word.
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