I require pre-marital counseling if I am officiating a wedding. That declaration doesn’t mean I haven’t questioned whether the time and effort involved in pre-marital counseling is worth it or not? I have been in more than a few lively discussions on this topic with other pastors through the years. Most of the pastors I have spoken with do pre-marital counseling and most of them wonder if it is worth it.
The premise is to guide the prospective couple through important areas they will face, or need to consider, before they get married in the hope that they may avoid some serious pitfalls. With this premise why would I sometimes wonder if it is worth it? Here are a few reasons why I sometimes ask if it is worth it.
One, most couples who come to me have already set a wedding date and informed nearly everyone they know before I ever speak with them. This means that they have pretty much made up their minds and just want to do whatever is required to get married.
Two, the couple is much more interested in planning the ceremony than discussing better ways to communicate or how to fight fair. After all, they are in love and don’t plan on ever fighting. Did you chuckle when you read that?
Three, the couple has a lot of people telling them that they just need to focus on getting married and then they will have plenty of time to figure things out. Seriously, they have people saying this to them and many others who imply it by only encouraging them to plan the wedding day without directing them to plan for the marriage.
Four, the couple may be more receptive to counsel after a few struggles after they get past the wedding day.
Here are a few reasons why, in spite of the above issues, I believe pre-marital counseling is still worth the time and effort.
One, the relationship I build with the couple during this time is invaluable as I prepare to share in their wedding day. I always give a personal challenge to the couple during the ceremony and I draw on our time together during these counseling times.
Two, the time counseling the couple builds credibility with them, opening the door for future times of ministry with them.
Three, call me optimistic but I still believe that some of what we deal with in pre-marital counseling with sink in and be helpful to most couples.
Four, I believe that requiring the couple to go through pre-marital counseling sets the stage for helping them understand the seriousness of committing your life to another person in marriage.
My ideal set up would be to do pre-marital counseling and then have a mentor couple meet with them regularly throughout their first year of marriage. I am still working on this one.
I would love to hear from you. What is your experience with pre-marital counseling? What do you do?