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Christian Premarital Counseling: What to Expect

September 27, 2016

Before getting married, couples often complete Christian premarital counseling at their church. Premarital counseling helps the couple understand and plan for a marriage that will glorify God. It also helps the couple set reasonable expectations.

Churches vary in how they approach premarital counseling. For instance, it is common for a pastor at a small church to meet with the couple directly for Christian premarital counseling. At a larger church, the couple may join other couples in a class with an established curriculum.

How Christian Premarital Counseling Helps Couples

The premarital counseling curriculum from Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) in Washington D.C. lists five purposes for premarital counseling.

  1. It helps build a solid, biblical foundation for marriage. A lot of time is spent in Scripture looking at how biblical ideas apply to marriage.
  2. It helps couples begin a dialogue. Topics like communication, finances, sex and parenting need to be discussed before marriage.
  3. It points out areas of concern in the relationship. No relationship is perfect. Potential problems, conflict and struggles should be addressed.
  4. It preserves couples from temptation. Getting engaged can result in couples rationalizing premarital sex. Premarital sex and other temptations need to be discussed.
  5. It prepares couples for the marriage, and not just the wedding day. Couples can have a tendency to focus on the wedding day and not on the marriage.

An important part of premarital counseling is getting the couple to have serious conversations about their upcoming marriage. Marriages are filled with common problems that most couples experience, and each couple has certain strengths and weaknesses that require a certain approach.

Premarital counseling explores each person’s faith and history. It helps the couple examine personal convictions, expectations for their future and responsibilities they will have. More than anything, premarital counseling aims to produce a marriage that is biblical and God-honoring.

Applying Scripture to Premarital Counseling

Studying the Bible is a primary part of Christian premarital counseling. Couples often examine the “basics of marriage” contained in Genesis 2:18-24, William McRae writes in his book Preparing for Your Marriage. A couple might discuss what Ephesians 5:21-31 and the passage in Genesis mean when stating that the two “become one flesh.”

The couple will participate in other biblical studies. For instance, the CHBC curriculum for premarital counseling includes sessions on a theology of communication, a theology of sex and “a theology of everything else” that includes love, money, forgiveness and children. Another example might be, in the context of a couple’s communication and spiritual growth, to study the power of prayer.

Biblical studies are not isolated from other parts of premarital counseling. Combined with an assessment of each person and his and her strengths and weaknesses, premarital counseling can use Scripture to help a couple approach marriage with the right mindset and heart. The couple looks at how to model their marriage, how to enhance their faith and how to encounter any obstacles, struggles or concerns.

The Bible is as critical to the life of a married couple as it is to the life of the individual Christian. Remember that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV).

Path to Ministry

Ministry leaders can help couples planning to get married better understand each other and God’s purpose for this covenant. Christian premarital counseling is a powerful opportunity to ensure that each person and their relationship is rooted in God and to inspire them to follow His plan for their lives.

Grace College’s online Master of Arts in Ministry Studies helps students enhance their ability to minister to others in a variety of vocational ministry careers. This fully online, accelerated program can be completed in two years and offers concentrations in counseling, camp administration and women’s leadership studies.