The date is set, the venue is reserved, the photographer is lined up, the flowers are picked out, the guest list is finalized, the save the dates are in the mail, and the invitations are in production – everything seems to be covered, so what else is there to do? In the midst of all the time and money spent in preparing for the wedding day, it’s easy to overlook the obvious – you are about to be married. You are joining your life to another person, committing to be loving and faithful, “in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall live.”
Don’t get me wrong, your wedding is a significant event, and you want to make it beautiful and meaningful. But at the end of the day, your wedding is a doorway to your future life together. The day after your wedding, you’ll have walked through the door together, and you’ll have to face the beautiful and complicated reality of what it means to be married.
If the future of your relationship is important to you, it would make sense to give time and energy to focus on preparing for your marriage, and not just your wedding day. One of the best ways I know to prepare for marriage is through premarital counseling. Premarital counseling involves working with a trained counselor, pastor, or mentor to help prepare you both for your future life together. It’s a guided and honest conversation through what marriage is all about.
So, if you’re planning on getting married anytime soon, here are some thoughts on why premarital counseling can be incredibly helpful in building a strong marriage:
Creates space for good conversation – As you think about getting married, what do you want your marriage to look like? What are your hopes and fears? How will you foster a good friendship? What are your expectations for physical intimacy? How will you grow together spiritually? How will you work through conflict, manage finances, and interact with extended family? Premarital counseling provides a great opportunity to explore questions like these in a safe environment, and it helps set you a on a trajectory of healthy communication about what really matters in marriage.
Helps you better know and love one another – Every couple is different. There has never been this exact combination of personalities, experiences, strengths, weaknesses, and spiritual maturity. Good premarital counseling should help you know yourselves better – as individuals and as a couple. It will explore how you relate to one another – the good, the bad, and the confusing, and it will better prepare you to love your unique spouse.
Prepares you for future struggles – Cultivating a good marriage is not easy – it takes hard work. Many young couples enter into marriage with unrealistic expectations and are unprepared for the difficulties they will face. Premarital counseling provides a wonderful opportunity to walk through some of the most common struggles in marriage and to exploring ways to continually grow a strong and thriving relationship.
Long-term investment in your marriage – In light of all the expenses put towards the wedding day, the cost of premarital counseling is minimal, and it could be the most important purchase you make in all your preparation. The time and money spent in premarital counseling is a huge investment in the health of your marriage and future family. It will take a small amount of time, but it will continue to bear fruit over the long haul, as you continue to grow in loving one another well.
As you think through your own relationship, what steps are you taking to prepare for your future life together? What investments are you making now to help grow a strong, rich, and enduring marriage for years to come? As you go to great lengths to prepare for your wedding day, take some time to prepare for your marriage as well.
Jared Bryant serves as a Pastoral Counselor at Stonegate Counseling Associates. He lives in Athens, GA with his wife, Kaitie and their two young boys, Ethan and Andy. You can read more from Jared on his blog, Deep Roots.
Photo Credit: Kaitie Bryant Photography