Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Premarital Counseling

I won't officiate a wedding ceremony unless a couple agrees to met with me at least six times for premarital counseling. In our community we had a "Wedding Chapel" where couple paid some local pastor $75 and got an instant wedding. I refused to do that.

For years I've only been working with couples who are part of our church family. This gives me more than enough to do. If they are with us, I love assisting them on the road to marriage.

I'm passionate about helping premarital couples enter into a marital covenant with God that will last a lifetime. There aren't a lot of marriages like that happening, so I feel pretty intense about this. My experience is that nearly all premarital couples I work with desire a marriage that lasts a lifetime. In order to achieve this they need a lot of help, since it's likely that they lack parents who stayed together and modeled a healthy marital relationship for them. The lack of this creates a lot of problems for people looking at getting married. In counseling we address this, and many other things.

I love getting to know premarital couples. When we finally come to that moment where we're standing before God and the man and woman are expressing vows to each other, I can say that I know these two people. That's important to me.

In doing premarital counseling I have, for years, used the FOCCUS premarital inventory. Couples individually respond to statements like the examples below. The materials are sent in and, for a small fee, processed and returned to a Facilitator like myself. I get a packet of information that works like an MRI of the premarital couple's relationship. It's broken down into categories such as "Communication," "Financial Issues," "Family of Origin Issues," and "Extended Family Issues." In the premarital counseling sessions I work from the areas that have the least amount of agreement on the preferred answers.

Here are some sample statements from the actual FOCCUS inventory.