Sunday, November 23, 2008

Red Flags from Pre-Marital Counseling

I've done a lot of weddings in my 15 (yikes) years as a Pastor.  I'm estimating that I've done around 40 weddings now.  Along with those weddings comes an awful lot of pre-marital counseling.  Here are three red flags that I've come across during my pre-marital counseling sessions.

  1. We want to keep our finances seperate.  I'm not saying that this arrangement can't work.  But regardless of any financial wisdom in such an arrangement - the relational message that it sends is divisive.
  2. We've never had an argument.  If a couple gets to their wedding day and hasn't had an argument yet - they're not ready to be married.  You have to know that your partner can fight fair before you commit the rest of your life to them.
  3. Once we get married he/she will change this behavior that I don't like.  I'm amazed that really smart people actually think this will happen.  Read my lips - nothing gets easier after you're married.  If it's bad now - it will get worse (not better) after you get married.  Marriage is an amazing gift, but it takes tremendous commitment and hard work to make it great.


rachel said...

haha. we didn't have ANY of those issues. lol. And you're right, people don't change when they get married. If anything, flaws INCREASE and multiply. But, so does love, compassion, and compromise.

If you're lucky :)

Matt Donovan said...

"If a couple gets to their wedding day and hasn't had an argument yet - they're not ready to be married."

I remember you saying this during our pre-marital counseling and I'm still not sure I buy it. It strikes me as more of a Western principle than a biblical one.

I'm not saying it's unfruitful - I just think it's a goofy pre-req.


thepipers said...

So true. I really like this new blog format/focus.

Matt Donovan said...

I also dig the format/focus.

childrensministryandculture said...


The pre-marital argument isn't Bible. And cultural wisdom can be useful when one finds himself embedded in a culture and the wisdom doesn't conflict with scripture.

I would say that if two sin-damaged people haven't managed to whip up a barn-burning conflict during an engagement that they are in for ride during the first year of marriage.

Matt Donovan said...

@childrenministryandculture et al -

That's totally valid and it actually occurred to me later that day (I can't stop thinking about this for some reason).

It also occurred to me that I would not be at all excited if one of my daughters told me she wanted to marry a guy resembling who I was when I got engaged.

- Still in school
- Only working part time
- No savings
- Living with parents

In retrospect, I was not ready for marriage even by my own standards. My wife and I had not had any kind of major argument or fight before getting engaged. Would it have helped? Probably. Maybe the exercise of drumming up a disagreement would have even helped us know each other better - much less getting to the actual conflict.

The idea though, of waiting to get married until you've achieved a deep enough level of disrespect to be yelling at each other seems like sinning so that grace may abound. I mean - it's great if you've fought with and forgiven each other - but to wait for that to happen? Really?

The reason I think the idea is Western at it's foundation is because our culture so prolongs the pre-marital process. To me, this sounds like a little to much emphasis on compatibility and not enough on commitment and covenant. I could totally be wrong. Just saying this one idea doesn't sit right with me.