Wednesday, March 11, 2009

PreMarital Counseling

I am currently counseling two couples who are preparing for marriage in the next few months at Bethel. They are terrific young couples. At this point in my ministry, I sometimes wonder if pre-marital counseling really does any good? Or, for that matter, if counseling does any good? Not that I'm cynical, just realistic. (That's what all cynical people say)

I determined that I would go at this with a new attitude and enjoy it. They really are good kids (?). Nervously, they come into the Pastor's Study and sit in the chairs I had for them. They don't really know what to expect. I explain that I am not there as their judge. I'm there as a servant of the church. For one thing, the counseling time is a chance to get to know the couple better and for them to get to know me better so that, when we stand up together at the altar, we won't be total strangers to each other. We will have shared some meaningful time with each other.

I explain that sometimes in counseling we uncover issues that are important to discuss before they get married. Or, we meet up with problems that we can identify and understand better before the vows are spoken.

One of the things we talk about is based on the three biggest problems in modern marriages. What would you say are the three biggest problems. They are: money (no surprise there), in-laws, and communication.

Money is one of those things that causes problems in most marriages. I ask questions like: who will handle the money, pay the bills? I talk about debt and the way in which a lot of couples want everything now and go too far in debt and spend their whole lives trying to get out of it. I share with them John Wesley's guidance about money. Wesley says that we should, as Christians, live on 80% of our income. He says that if we're living on more than that, we're living too high. He then says to save 10% and give 10% to the church.

We talk about other things like that. The last session we look at the service of worship and we talk about marriage as covenant not contract. We even discuss such mundane things like: how many children do you want.

I look forward to the day when I will stand in front of these couples and share a holly moment with them. Hopefully, this counseling opens a door to God and the church, immeasurable partners in marriage.

Dave Nichols

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