I do a lot of premarital counseling and I really enjoy it. It is fun to work with couples in this exciting stage of their lives. Everyone who is seeking to get married should get premarital counseling by an experienced pro-marriage counselor. This can be a pastor, LPC, psychologist, LMFT, MSW, etc., as long as they have experience and are pro-marriage). Many counselors are in fact not pro-marriage, as I wrote about in another post.
Here are the top 12 things I want engaged couples to know:
- This romantic stage of your relationship will not last forever. When it wears off, don’t freak out and don’t think the love is gone and the relationship is ending. Enjoy it, but when it begins to fade, don’t spend your life trying to recover it. There are deeper wells of love still out there, and the journey never ends as long as you are alive and on it together.
- Love is not all you need to make a marriage work. Premarital counseling will teach you what those other things are.
- Do you want your life together to clearly stand for something? What will it be? Do you agree on it? How will you pursue that together?
- You’re going to need to give each other a lot of space, and practice a lot of forgiveness.
- Dating will be more important after you are married than it ever was before you got married.
- We are all limited by life to some extent, and by biology to various extents, but have all the sex you can. It is your playground — enjoy it.
- Kiss and hug regularly — morning and evening. If kissing only happens during foreplay, chances are good the woman is unhappy.
- If your partner says they want to see a counselor, don’t make excuses, just go. You can’t win this one (and you probably shouldn’t). Just make sure your counselor is strongly pro-marriage.
- The healthier each individual gets, the healthier the relationship will be. Unhealthy people cannot have a healthy relationship.
- Learn to say I’m sorry. And then say it. A lot.
- Decide whether you are marrying a really good human being. If not, don’t get married. If so, continue to believe deeply in the goodness of that person, and to express that belief to him/her, even when times are hard and disagreements are fierce. Don’t lose faith in each other.
- Love does not come naturally. Lust and infatuation do, but love takes practice. But if you keep your vows, you will have your whole lives to get good at it!