When it comes to the wedding ceremony and officiant, Matt and I went on a slightly different route. Typically, the pastor of the church where you are married does the premarital counseling or there is some sort of church-organized class. We had our former college pastor marry us, and we weren’t married in a church. At the time he was the director of community life at a college in Southern California, so not readily available to counsel us.
We ended up asking a favor to have a counseling pastor at my parent’s church guide us through the program they offer. We met several times over the course of many weeks, going over the workbook to “A Growing Marriage” by Gary Chapman. You may recognize the name from his famous The 5 Love Languages.
Now, it wasn’t always a breeze. Our counseling was very early on Monday mornings and often included discussing personal topics with someone with whom we weren’t particularly close. At times, we felt like we were wasting time about guessing what challenges we would face as a married couple, living together for the first time. In the end, we decided it would be smart to be prepared.
Here’s us young and engaged. Photo by Joel Flory of Flory Photo.
Here’s how we benefited from premarital counseling:
* It gave us an opportunity to talk about things that we may not have discussed otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t flippant about getting married or even dating. It’s hard to know, though, if you’re covering all the basics since we had never gone through this before. We took it seriously and were wanting to make sure we gleaned wisdom from wherever we could.
* It provided a reference point. When an argument arises, we could both directly point at what we learned and go from there.
* We learned more about each other. While I don’t think Chapman’s love languages are perfect, they’re a great way to look at how to best love your mate. A complement to this would be Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, which we also read and recommend. It is very easy to assume you know how to love someone best, but you end up giving them what you want, instead of what they want. It helped us learn to be more intentional about showing our love.
Lastly, while not part of the counseling session, one piece of advice given from a friend has made a HUGE difference with how we communicate and feel. She said both partners will typically feel like they are giving 90 percent and only getting 10 percent back. Knowing this, it’s easier to be more forgiving.
While not mandatory, for those who are trying to decide, give premarital counseling a chance!
PS — We were not paid to review the products described in this post, we just thought they were helpful for us and that others may benefit from them as well.