Statistically, half of all first-time marriages end in divorce, and approximately sixty-five percent of second marriages fail. The problem is not the issue of marriage, but the foundations and expectations of the marriage compounded by the societal pressures of today. Brotherson and Duncan note that “It is likely that marriage emerged as a topic of substantive concern in American society because the institution of marriage has seldom been subject to the societal pressures that have impacted it during the 20th century.” (Brotherson & Duncan, 2004, p. 459)
In addition to the societal pressures, marriages often begin with the couples having unrealistic expectations of their respective roles, shaped by their experiences in their own home of origin, portrayals in the media, and false perceptions.
Dr. Ted L. Huston of the University of Texas at Austin says:
“This study showed that couples’ newlywed marriages and changes in their union over the first two years foreshadow their long-term marital fate after 13 years… disillusionment—as reflected in an abatement of love, a decline in overt affection, a lessening of the conviction that one’s spouse is responsive, and an increase in ambivalence—distinguishes couples headed for divorce from those who establish a stable marital bond.”
Premarital counseling helps partners improve their ability to communicate, set realistic expectations for marriage, and develop conflict-resolution skills. The adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is most relative when considering Pre-Marital Counseling. A few hours of counseling provide new marriages with the knowledge and skills to overcome the “rough water” each relationship faces.
Pre-martial counseling typically is scheduled to occur once a week, over seven weeks. Every couple has a prepared personal plan. The first week the counselor meets with the couple to collect information from each person to help in the design of the couple’s personalized course. The following six weeks address specific issues for the client couple. Couples that have co-habituated before marriage may require additional sessions. During counseling, the couple will have homework that is due at the next session.
Where each couple is unique and has unique counseling needs, the following is a partial list of tools often used in our counseling sessions.
• God provided defined principles of marriage that every couple can experience His blessings in their relationship.
• Both partners will complete an APS evaluation that identifies inborn tendencies in each person that may strengthen the marriage or potentially cause tremendous struggles if left unaddressed. This time-tested evaluation provides the couple with accurate insight into who God created them to be.
• Develop a Genogram. A Genogram is a family tree the “talks,” identifying past behaviors of the relatives and ex-spouses of the couple that may cause relationship triangles and issues to arise in the relationship.
• Administer a Pre-Marriage Inventory that captures the martial expectations of both partners, highlighting similarities and differences, providing the couple to options to consider the resolution of conflict before differing expectations become “toxic” in the relationship. Some topics addressed are; Finances, Intimacy, Authority, Home of Origin, Children, etc.
• Communication Strategies are included in the training, providing the couple with tools to resolve the inevitable conflicts that will arise in any relationship.
Through the use of Biblical Pre-Marital Counseling, the couple is prepared to face the “storms of life.” Jesus said, Matthew 7:24-25 “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”
The successful completion of this course qualifies the completing couple to a $60.00 discount on their Knox County, Tennessee Marriage license Fee.