THINGS NECESSARY FOR PRE-MARITAL COUNSELLING:
A COUPLE - That's you, two people who want to get married.
A COUNSELLOR - That's me, Bill, along with Jill. We're anxious for you to exhilarate in all the joy God has in store for you! We want to help you experience God's best for your relationship. We've thought of some ways that we can aid you in preparing for a lifetime of married bliss. If we've left out anything that would be helpful to you, just ask.
A COMMITMENT - To do what will bring the maximum glory to God. (This incidentally, brings what's best for us!)
A CONFERENCE- Campus Crusade for Christ's Family Life Conference is great preparation for marriage. It has sections designed for engaged couples as well as married folks. We would strongly recommend that you attend as soon as possible. (If not before than after your wedding.) We have the tape from the section that they've found to be the most helpful for engaged couples entitled "God's Will for Marriage." Listen to the tape separately and do the exercises prayerfully, as soon as possible. Remember God always gives the grace (desire and power) to do His will.
Feel free to talk with me about any questions you have while listening to the tape or doing the exercises.
A CARDGAME - Sort through the cards in the Marriage Counseling Kit and record your answers according to the directions. There is a fair amount of discussion starters. I don't agree with all the proposed answers, and I doubt if you will. Note anything you want to discuss with me.
A NOTEBOOK - Each of you should get a bound diary or journal that is for your eyes only. Under no circumstances, for the rest of your lives, are either of you to look into the other's journal. To do so would be a violation of a sacred trust. In this notebook, record only things that relate to your marriage: write your questions, thoughts, ideas, goals, prayer, dreams, fears, problems, anything that comes to mind about marriage. Some of the questions you may want to ask me, or each other, or leave unanswered. You might want to write down all the positive and negative qualities of your mate (for purely evaluative reasons). It will be fun to see how God (not you) answers your prayers in these areas. In the future you might want to voluntarily read excerpts of your journal to each other. But you must NEVER read each other's journals.
A BOOK - The most helpful and practical book we've found on marriage in Marriage Takes More Than Love, by Jack and Carole Mayhall. If you build your marriage on the sound, Biblical advice in the book, you won't be disappointed. You'll find the material they cover excellent fodder for preparing your vows. Write down any questions you want to discuss with each other and/or me. Start a list of "Good Ideas for Our Relationship" in your Notebooks based on your reading of the book. Get a couple of copies, you'll want to loan it out and re-read it many times.
A BIBLE STUDY - Above all else, your understanding of and obedience to Scripture will determine your joy in marriage. When operated according to the manufacturer's directions, marriage will work best and bring the intended fulfillment. The hours (and I do mean hours) you put into studying and meditating upon these passages and answering the questions will not be spent but invested in something that will pay rich dividends. This study will serve as the basis for your vows, and future happiness. Be sure to record your answers in your notebook. You'll want to see how your understanding of marriage deepens as you know God better. Jot down or highlight things you want to discuss with each other or with me.
A GUIDE - Communication, The Key to Your Marriage, is an aid to help you communicate. If you can communicate over an issue, you can usually solve it. Norman Wright's guide has been very helpful to many people. Read it thoughtfully. Write the answers to the suggested questions in your notebook and learn to communicate over the issues.
A MANUAL - Intended for Pleasure, by Dr. Ed Wheat is the best Christian information on sex from a medical viewpoint. You'll have a lifetime to follow his advice AFTER you're married. You'll also have a lifetime to suffer the consequences of awakening the sexual part of your relationship too early. All couples struggle with the increasing intensity of their sexual feelings toward each other. Lack of self control in your relationship before marriage is the best preparation for infidelity outside your relationship after marriage. Don't think you won't get burnt. Everyone with burn marks thought they were immune. Once the focus gets on the physical part of your relationship, you no longer spend time learning to communicate and relate in the spiritual and psychological aspects of your relationship. Most people sow seeds of mistrust and destruction in their marriage by failing to wait for God's best in their physical relationship. For your benefit I'll be asking you if your physical relationship is pleasing in the sight of God.
A CHECKLIST - Those who have spent countless hours in counseling broken marriages and studying healthy marriages have developed list of things that make or break a marriage. These items will help you evaluate yourself and your potential mate, clarify your thinking on issues, and provide the basis for communication and action. As you respond to the checklist, do so prayerfully. You might see some weeds that need to be pulled before they get too big, or some seeds that need to be watered so they'll blossom.
A BIBLIOGRAPHY - There are many excellent books and studies on marriage available. Knowledge is power; the more you know, the better chance you'll have of overcoming the destructive forces that will prevent you from having a Christ honoring relationship. Everyone grows up in an imperfect environment with less than perfect marriage role models. The erroneous concepts of life, ourselves, and marriage which we bring to a marriage must be corrected to have an ideal union. Some of these books will be of great help now and in the future, depending on your needs.
A BUDGET - How to spend your time and your money causes major friction in many marriages. Discussing and planning your financial budget and future schedules (in light of your goals) will give you practice in communication and conflict resolution, as well as making your future union smoother.
A SET OF GOALS - Nothing of any value is achieved by accident. You will only accomplish that for which you aim. Aim so as to glorify God.