Why Pre-Marital Counseling is Not Enough

A couple in our church recently got engaged. Knowing that my husband and I have experience doing pre-marital counseling with soon-to-be married couples, they approached us to ask if we would meet with them.

Before we could even schedule a time, the bride-to-be spoke up: “I have a question. Why do we only do this after couples get engaged? Why is there no such thing as pre-engagement counseling?”

She makes a good point. My forehead scrunched as I thought hard about her question. Why don’t we offer pre-engagement counseling?

Pre-Engagement Counseling

Imagine all of the heartache and turmoil that could be avoided if dating or courting couples sought out a structured mentoring relationship with an older married couple.

Imagine how helpful it would be to work through some key marital issues, learn about opinions and convictions, and have intentional discussions before the ring is on the finger.

Maybe you’re already engaged or married, and you’re thinking it’s too late. If that’s the case, use your knowledge and experience to bless another couple in an earlier stage of their relationship.

Look around and see who you could approach about getting together to chat before the guy bends down on one knee. You don’t have to have a counseling degree to be a positive, godly influence.

Consider going through a book with another couple. Set aside an hour a week to read and discuss together. See how you might be able to invest in another couple’s relationship. By doing so, you may be surprised just how much it strengthens your own.

Post-Marital Counseling

Besides the idea of pre-engagement counseling and the more widely practiced pre-marital counseling, what about post-marital counseling?

Yes, I certainly recommend spending as much time and effort in preparation for marriage as possible – but isn’t it true that the most issues arise after the honeymoon wears off, so to speak, and the rubber hits the road?

If that’s the case, why don’t more churches offer regular marriage enrichment courses? Even if they’re offered, why are married couples usually hesitant to seek out such resources and attend events or counseling sessions to strengthen their marriages?

Perhaps one key hindrance is pride. Maybe we’re too afraid to admit our need for help.

Maybe we don’t want people to know we don’t have it all together behind closed doors.

Maybe we don’t think we have the energy to get down to the heart of the matter and resolve underlying tensions and root causes.

Or maybe we think we’re beyond help.

If that’s the case, don’t despair.

Every marriage is made up of two sinners. We all need help. Desperately so.
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Regular Maintenance

We spend money on regular maintenance of our vehicles – oil changes, alignments, tune-ups. We check the tire pressure and add air when needed. Why don’t we do the same for our marriage relationships?

Whatever stage you’re in – whether it’s pre-engagement, pre-marriage, or post-marriage – make time to maintain your relationship.
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Check the spark plugs. Test the brakes. Change the oil. Attend a conference. Read a marriage book. Meet with an older married couple.

Whether or not the warning lights are flashing on your dashboard, do it now – before the wheels come off, and you’re standing stranded on the side of the road.


Kate Motaung is the author of A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging (2018), A Start-Up Guide for Online Christian Writers, and Letters to Grief. She is the host of Five Minute Friday, an online community that encourages and equips Christian writers, and owner of Refine Services, a company that offers writing, editing, and digital marketing services. Kate blogs at Heading Home and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@katemotaung).

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