| The question of pre-marital counseling or coaching as I prefer , is an important one. Most couples, if given a choice, will choose not to have counseling. Perhaps they feel it's unnecessary because they think they've already talked through all of the issues that could trouble their marriage. Or perhaps they're so caught up in the romance and excitement of their relationship that they can't conceive of anything ever coming between them,. Going to a counselor who will ask questions and stimulate discussion about "personal" matters may then seem intrusive and a waste of time. And if it's a counselor who is also a clergy person, it may feel even more threatening if their experience of "religion" or clergy has not been positive in the past.
Having said that, it's my experience that ignorance
isn't really bliss
at all. Embarking into a marriage without going through a process of
self-examination and open discussion with your partner is not unlike walking into a mine field. You don't really know what to expect. Marriage is perhaps the most complex of human relationships, and it's intended to last for
a lifetime, but unfortunately many couples are not equipped to deal with
the challenges they face in marriage. It's estimated that over half of
all first marriages will end in divorce, the average marriage lasting
less than seven years.
Loving someone doesn't mean there will never be conflict, but how you
deal with the conflict, how you communicate with each other as you work
through the conflict is vitally important. We are all required to study
and take tests, written and practical, before getting a license to drive
a car, but no such tests are currently required in most states before
getting a marriage license. Those couples who are already living together before marriage may think that is adequate preparation, but statistics
show that cohabitation prior to marriage does not increase marital success.
There is not substitute of good preparation!
I use a tool developed by Life Innovations called, *Prepare/Enrich. *It
consists of an inventory that each partner takes separately which when
scored shows the strengths and growth areas of their relationship. It
teaches valuable communication and conflict resolution skills and helps
couples become aware of important issues before they turn into major
problems. During our initial session together each partner takes the inventory and subsequent sessions the results are discussed. This inventory is scientifically designed and based on the scores of hundreds
of thousands of couples. It can discriminate premarital couples who get
divorced from those that are happily married with about an 80 - 85%
I believe strong marriages and strong families are the foundation of a
healthy society, and so I strongly urge every couple to take the time
to prepare wisely for their marriage. If couples would dedicate as much
time and effort into preparing for their marriage as they do in preparing for their ceremony, I'm convinced our divorce rate would be significantly
As a Chaplain, following the weddings I officiate, I offer a complimentary
coaching session and a marriage "debriefing" following 4 - 6
months after their ceremony, just to maintain a positive supportive connection
with those to whom I have been of service.
Reverend Richleigh H. Powers