Uploaded by Tonya Spruill

Pre-Marital Counseling

What to Cover in Pre-Marital Counseling
1. Explanation of my purpose/Expectations for counseling:
a. To help them prepare for life together through good times and hard times. To help
them gain a realistic picture of married life. To give them tools to grow together
(communication, conflict resolution, etc)
b. To not take sides. My role is an advocate for their relationship, not pulling for either
person but helping them see their relationship clearly and healthily.
c. To be a future resource for them. It doesn’t end when you say “I do”.
d. I also tell them that openness and honesty is important. I tell them that nothing they
tell me will make think any differently of them. The purpose here is to help them feel
safe to be open and honest so if there are issues that need to be addressed they can
come up and be addressed.
2. Family History:
What is their story? What is their family of origin like? How similar were their
families growing up? How were they different? How do the experiences with their family
of origin help and hinder their relationship?
In marriage, we find that the models we grew up with are powerful. We often get
our roles defined for us early in life on what being a mother, father, husband or wife looks
like by watching our own parents (if we had both parents at home). Sometimes I will
semi-jokingly ask (if they both grew up with both parents) what life would be like if his
dad had married her mom. What issues might have arisen? There are times that question
evokes laughter but it also can bring about some “aha” moments that help them see where
some of their issues come from and how to address them.
3. Spiritual Background:
Do they have a common faith? Do they understand the importance of having God
at the center of their marriage? How will they raise these children, when they have them
(or if they currently have them) when it comes to faith and spirituality?
4. Biblical foundation for marriage:
a. Working through various scriptures with them to help them understand the
importance of marriage and help them gain perspective on the seriousness of their
commitment as well as the great joys that come through a God-centered marriage.
b. One of the scriptures I always make sure to include is Ephesians 5:22-33. I talk
about how 5:22 is often taken out of context and how these verses really are more
about the role of the man as servant leader and how most women will want to
follow/submit to a man who has her best interest at heart and who treats her with as
much love as Christ did for his church.
5. Expectations in marriage:
a. It is important that people have a healthy expectation of what marriage is going to be like.
You don’t know this unless you have been there. Some people get scared when the
honeymoon phase wears off and it gets down to the nitty gritty of real life. People wonder
if they are still in love. They need someone to give them a healthy expectation in advance.
That doesn’t mean you rain on their parade. It just means you give guidance on what can
actually be a substantially healthier period of their marriage beyond all the intense feelings
of the early days, weeks, months, etc
b. Household chores – who is going to do what. Sometimes I will provide them a list of
chores and have them each write down who they think will do what and compare.
6. Communication, Conflict, & Problem Solving:
a. Conflict is the inevitable in marriage. A healthy marriage is not defined by the total
absence of conflict but in how the conflict is resolved. This means viewing each other as a
team and not as adversaries when conflict arises.
b. I cover the “Speaker-listener technique” for communicating through issues that cause
conflict. I can’t find a good description of this online so I will post on this later to describe
it for you. It is a method that slows down the conversation and forces both people to speak
simply and try to understand the other person.
c. I also discuss the need to resolve conflict and not to let unresolved issues pile up over time
(“loading the wagon” to be unloaded on the other person at a later date). This often means
picking a time in the future and a place for the conversation to continue when things cool
off and everyone has time to think before they say hurtful things.
7. Finances:
1. Have them work out a budget.
8. Love & Love languages:
a. Cover Gary Chapman’s five love languages, identify their love languages, talk about how
the love languages can mend a marriage that is broken.
b. This leads into a conversation about how a healthy marriage is not two people both trying
to take from each other, rather two people trying to give the other person 100%.
c. Also talk about love being a choice and not just a feeling.
d. You can have them each write a list of the things they love about each other. They can
use this at a later date if they ever have questions about whether or not they were ever
really in love (if things get tough). Have them share their lists with each other on their
own time.
9. Trust: Gaining it and Breaking it:
a. Trust is gained over a long period of time but it can be broken in an instant. I don’t know
whose metaphor this is but I usually talk about how trust is like building a wall around
your marriage, brick by brick. The world is out there and just the two of you are inside
the wall. Trust is broken when some bricks are removed so that someone else can step
inside that sacred space. When that happens the wall comes tumbling down and can take
a long time to rebuild.
10. Maintaining the Relationship After the Honeymoon:
a. Dating your spouse. What you did to win them doesn’t end. It is important that all the
effort wasn’t given to “win” them but that we continue to grow the relationship passed
the “I do’s.” This is connected with the Love Languages
11. Sex and Sexuality:
a. This goes back to setting realistic expectations. This conversation can depend on
someone’s sexual history and experience. If someone is completely inexperienced
there are things they need to understand going into marriage to help them have a
healthy view of sex as well as helping them to understand the sexual experience,
gender differences (the old men are microwaves, women are like crockpots deal) as
well as sex not being isolated from the rest of what happens in their marriage, rather,
sex as an outflow of their love and life together as a bonding experience.
12. Parenting (if they already have children):
a. This would include how they want to raise their kids, discipline, issues specific to
“stepping” (step-kids)
b. Step families