Resources for Engaged Couples
We have been asked and have had the joy of walking with young couples through the process of pre-marriage counseling and I have had the privilege of officiating weddings of family and friends.
When I agree to perform the wedding ceremony, I do that with the expectation that the couple will go through 6 weeks of pre-marriage counseling. There are many great tools out there but in my opinion one of the most comprehensive books that deals with many topics and has an overtly Christian and Biblical undergirding is Dennis Rainey’s book Preparing for Marriage.
I recommend that couples commit to read and prepare the weekly lessons alone, then to make time weekly to share the results together all before they spend time highlighting what they have learned with me.
Session 1 – Part One: Preparing the groundwork
Worksheet 1: Understanding your Personal History
- Dating history
- Family flavoring – what shaped you – affect worldview?
- Family legacies – parents marriage and achievements
- Impact and what you would have done different
- Descriptions and relationship with each parent and any unresolved issues
- Siblings – closeness
- Spiritual journey
- Role of God in your life
- Certainty of Heaven – John 3:16
- Highlights of spiritual life over 10 years
- Where is it hard to give God control
- Church involvement
- Road map for Life
Worksheet 2: Great Expectations
Discover and discuss if you are an optimist, pessimist or realist in your expectations of marriage and how that can affect your relationship.
Expectations – where did this come from?
Discuss why it is important to you discuss what you will: accept adjust or abandon your expectations in the following areas:
- Marriage Relationship
- Housekeeping – roles “clean”
- Children and Parenting
- Parents other Relatives
Session 2 – Part two: laying the foundation –
Chapter 1: Why Marriage? This week we will consider and discuss the purposes of marriage:
1) Mutually Complete One Another: How do you complete each other and what challenges do you face?
I recommend going through as many personality profiles and character assessments as possible to better understand who you are apart and together. God says that two is better than one and a chord of three (including God in your marriage) is not broken easily Ecclesiastes 4:9.
2) Multiplying God’s Legacy; Discussion on Children
3) Mirroring God’s Image – discussion of how your marriage can bring witness to God in the following areas.
- Perfect Love
I encourage you to utilize the Parental Questionnaire in the book to your benefit on page 80. In addition, I recommend that you also interview grandparents if they are still alive and married.
Chapter 2: God’s Equation for Marriage: When one plus one equals one
- Becoming One Flesh
Session 3 – Compatibility and Decision making –
Special Project 3- Evaluating your Relationship Compatibility
I recommend that the couple do this work and discuss this material over a date together.
- Spiritual Compatibility – it would be great to review the Four Spiritual Laws together as foundations of the Christian Faith (also starting on page 240 in the book).
- Do you both share the same compatibility and authenticity to know and please God?
- Do we both consistently display a desire to obey God in all things and do our actions reflect that?
- What priority to we both place on ministering to other people?
- Are we both willing to follow God’s leading?
- Relational Compatibility
Here are three of many online resources that offer free tests – I recommend you take them during this week and discuss what you learned.
I also recommended reading 5 Love Languages by Gary Smalley at some point in your first year of marriage. For now there is a free online survey which I recommend you take and discuss this week.
- Awareness and discussion of Relational Fog Producers – p118
- Heeding Relational Flags – p120
Special Project 4 – A Decision Making Guide –
(there is a part of the wedding ceremony that says that entering into marriage should not be done hastily or without consideration of the cost – this project helps work through that)
Discussing a different worldview of making a decision with a Biblical worldview.
How does your wheel look vs the paradigm on page 127.
- Spend time alone with God
- Declare your willingness to follow God’s will no matter what
- Make an honest evaluation of your readiness for marriage
- Consider if this person is God’s provision for you
- Make a decision and act on it by faith.
Session 4 – Part four: building oneness part I–
Chapter 5: Authentic Communication
This chapter outlines both scriptural and practical ways to communicate
Why do you think many couples experience so little conflict during courtship or engagement?
Listening principles: listening to understand and expressing to understand.
Go through the couples project on page 150
Talk about how integral prayer has been in your marriage and how you can build it into your marriage?
This week begin Couples Interview p 157
Chapter 6: Roles and Responsibilities
Roles Position Statement
Discuss what it means, as a Servant Leader, for the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church in Ephesians 5:25.
Discuss what “submission” as seen in Ephesians 5:22-4, could mean and should mean in light of vs 25 —
No matter what is our role or responsibility, I recommend that we have the lens of Biblical servanthood as found in Philippians 2. I recommend that each couple read this passage regularly and to memorize Philippians 1-4 as part of their pre-marriage training.
Session 5 – Part four building oneness part II–
Chapter 7: Money, money, money
I recommend that every couple go through one of two Bible studies with Compass: Finances God’s Way. Either Navigating your Finances God’s Way or Money and Marriage God’s Way.
Setting a Budget
Chapter 8: Intimacy: Sexual Communication in Marriage
Session 6 – Where do we go from here ?
Wedding plans and schedules. Here is one of many wedding planning websites that address details, protocol and ideas.
Discuss and strategize for dynamics for the wedding day
Discuss results from your Interviews
I always recommend one final session that is face to face to review discuss and make sure we all on the same page for the big day!