SELF-DIRECTED PRE-MARITAL COUNSELLING
by Rev. Ray Cross
Preparing for unity, not unanimity.
Coordinating differences for greater love, delight, appreciation and effectiveness.
Differences Attract and Repel in Courtship and Marriage
My son dated a lovely gal years ago. They seemed like the perfect couple. When he broke off the relationship we were very surprised. How could such a perfect relationship come apart? When we asked him, he said, “It was like I was dating myself. We were too much alike.”
When we seek a mate it is often the differences we find in the other person that draws us to them. Instinctively we look for someone with strengths we lack. They do likewise. So there is much truth to the view that opposites attract.
Differences Require Deeper Communication
While it may be the differences we find in the other person that attract us to them, it is often these very differences that get under our skin when we marry and begin to live together. Prior to this juncture, therefore, the wise couple will flush out their differing viewpoints and talk them through for the sake of learning specific relational skills. If couples approaching marriage can initiate communication on this level prior to their ceremony it will make it easier to continue this essential process in the pressured environment of household economics, time pressures and child rearing responsibilities. Moving in does not usually make communication easier. When you both occupy the same space consequences of disagreements intensify–agreements can be more elusive. Couples who stumble into marriage without resolving these crucial issues often experience undue stress that could have been avoided. Resolving these issues is usually simpler prior to a couple entering into the heated environment of household pressures and concerns.
Pre-marital Counselling you do Yourself
For this reason I recommend that couples either pursue the supportive and directive environment of premarital counselling with a trusted counsellor or, as an alternative, participate in the discussion starter questionnaires on this site, to separately and very honestly respond to the issues raised, then come together to share their separate responses with each other. It is very important that you do this in an atmosphere of attentiveness to each other and appreciation for each other. The goal is to discern where you differ and to discuss with each other what is behind these differing viewpoints.
To be compatible does not necessarily mean that you see things the same but rather that you know and understand how and why you both see things the way you do, you accept differences and have a plan for working together with them. With this goal in mind, respond to each of the items in the compatibility assessment questionnaires separately, then, in a relaxed environment, share with each other who and what you are. The key is to find ways of manoeuvring your differences and the pressures that you will face so that they do not come between you. Pressure that is not allowed to come between will push you together
In it’s essence, pre-marital counselling is a matter of brides and grooms becoming aware of areas of incompatibility between them, then determining ways they may adjust to each other to minimize the negative aspects of those differences and manage those differences so that they contribute positively to their relationship between themselves and other important people in their lives presently and in their future.
Those involved in counselling couples recognize certain relational realms that account for most compatibility confusion and problems in marriages. Premarital counselling, therefore, focuses on one area of concern at a time. Each of these categories of concern should be dealt with in at least one session of counsel each. Couples may independently complete the topically distinguished questionnaires and then sit down to compare their responses, determine where they differ, and then discuss how they will manage these differences not only to minimize their negative impact but to creatively work their differences to enhance their friendship, partnership and loving relationship.
Counselling, whether self-administered, or entrusted to the guidance of a counsellor should deal with the following issues. Each area of concern listed includes resources available on this site to facilitate the self administered counselling process. If you discover incompatibilities you are not able to resolve yourselves, seek the assistance of a marital counsellor. Take along with you the completed questionnaires to assist the counsellor to know how to most efficiently help you with your needs.
- Respond to the questions independently
- Come together to air your answers.
- Learn your differences, and
- In a caring and understanding manner appreciate and accommodate to each other’s uniqueness, seeking to discern ways of adjusting your attitudes and your actions in ways that enhance your love and strengthen your relationship.
COMPATIBILITY SESSION #1 — LOVE AND ROLES
- Questionnaire – Marriage Compatibility
- Questionnaire — Roles in Marriage
- Checklist of Love
- What is love really?
- How to love your wife
- How to love your husband
- Living Wedding Vows