I have been a pastor for 25 years and I have always tried to require at least six sessions of premarital counseling before the wedding. When I look to see how many of the couples I worked with in the past are still married, I find that most of the ones that took the time for the pre-marriage counseling I offered are still together. Many of those “you’ve got to marry us right now – no time for counseling” weddings have ended in divorce. Years ago when I was a pastor of a church with a large beautiful building where everyone wanted to get married I did pre-marriage counseling with around 10 couples a year and I found that about 80% of the couples actually went through with getting married and the other 20% found reasons not to marry that person.
Oddly enough many couples are willing to pay hundreds (or over a thousand) dollars for the wedding pictures but they don’t want to shell out $55 so they can each get a pre-marriage counseling book (Preparing for Marriage by Dennis Rainey) and the Prepare Enrich Premarital Assessment. I’ve had some parents and even a grandparent send a check to cover the costs with a note that said they wanted to make sure the couple they cared about had the tools to help them prepare for a lifelong marriage.
I am only equipped to offer Bible based counseling for a Biblical marriage between a man and a woman. The six sessions cover:
- Why God created marriage
- How to decide who to marry
- Communication in marriage
- Sharing roles and responsibilities in marriage
- Finances and goals in marriage
- How to prepare for a memorable wedding day
A lot of couples put off getting married because they think they can’t afford it so I help them find ways to lower the cost so they can get married sooner. The State of Minnesota offers a discount on the marriage license fee for those who receive at least 12 hours of pre-marriage instruction and my method totals over 12 hours between the required book reading, video watching and meeting time.
The first long distance pre-marriage counseling sessions I ever did was for a couple where one was overseas in the military and the other was traveling the country racing motorcycles. Now it is a lot easier to do long distance but in person is even better. Please take the time for pre-marriage counseling before marriage.