One of the joys we have in our counseling center is doing
pre-marital counseling.  It is a very
uplifting and encouraging thing for our staff to be in on a pre-emptive strike
against marriage counseling.  One of the
questions we ask our marriage counselees is if they had any pre-marital
counseling.  Sadly, most tell us they had
1 or 2 sessions with the person who was to marry them right before the wedding
which explains in part why they have need for marriage counseling.
It is appalling that there is so much focus on the music
and the dress and the reception and so little on what happens in the marriage
ceremony. It is a set up for disaster and any pastor who is willing to marry a
couple without pre-marital counseling is complicit in the marital mess that
follows.
A couple of the best
books on marriage basics I know of are Wayne Mack’s Strengthening Your
Marriage (1977)
followed by his Your Family, God’s Way (1991). We use both of these extensively in our
ministry.
There are a few specific common issues that bring people to the counselor’s
office and I will outline them for you here.
The first has to be a misunderstanding of what marriage truly is.  It is not a partnership; it is not based on a
contract. Marriage is a permanent covenantal relationship between a man and
woman.
But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his
father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer
two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man
separate.”
Mark 10:6-9
(NKJV)
 
Notice that there is no room in the marriage for a
parent, “the boys”, “alone time”, “my girlfriends” or other people inserting
themselves into the marriage.  Marriage
is intended to be 1 husband and 1 wife. 
In biblical terms it means they leave and cleave.  The spouse becomes the primary relationship
for husband and wife.
This is not always the case.  Parental relationships and friendships are to
take a back seat to the marital one. 
Opposite sex friendships must not be a part of married life because it
is extremely dangerous and leads to adultery. This includes work friendships
and Facebook friendships! Your spouse must be your best friend and the one you
cleave to! If you do not have a close relationally intimate bond with them
before marriage, what makes you think you will after?  The husband-wife
relationship must be primary.
When there is no
cleaving or oneness in a marriage there are going to be problems. In his book The Heart of Anger, Lou Priolo says, “Virtually
all marriage and family problems can be traced back to a failure to leave one’s
parents, cleave to one’s spouse, or become one flesh with one’s spouse.” (Lou
Priolo, The Heart of Anger, (Calvary Press, 1997), pg.25)
Another marital problem is poor communication with
respect to finances. We strongly discourage couples from having separate
finances. In fact, to do so is a clear indication that there are underlying
issues pertaining to trust, self-control, selfishness, and submission just to
name a few things.
In a biblically centered marriage there is no “my money”
and “my stuff” because it all belongs to God (Ps.24:1) and because when two
people become one there is no more “mine” and “yours” because it is now “ours.”  Together husband and wife are stewards of God’s
financial blessings and so they must trust each other to honor God with
earning, spending, and saving.
A couple must develop a biblical philosophy of money. We
know it is important to God because it is mentioned more than 2000 times in
Scripture!
These are only two of the important issues covered in
pre-marital counseling. If you know a couple planning a wedding, love them
enough to insist they get good, solid
counseling on all the aspects of marriage before they get too far into planning
the big day.

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