Part 3 of a 3-Part Essential Topics for Premarital Series
In the months leading up to your wedding, it is important to prepare yourself for the marriage. What sorts of steps can you take to get ready for this enormous transition? Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to spend time with your future spouse. You may think you know everything about your partner, but it’s important to engage in open conversation about certain topics before the marriage so that you are ready for any surprises once you have said your vows. And perhaps the best place to foster these conversations is at pre-marital counseling.
This is the last of three articles about the eight essential topics that couples should cover during pre-marital counseling. I have already discussed the first six, but these final two subjects – sex and money – are among the most problematic topics for newly married couples. These are practical as well as emotional issues. Openly sharing expectations, habits, and attitudes toward sex and money allows engaged couples to understand one another better, and pre-marital counseling can equip couples to manage any related issues that may come up after the wedding.
Sexuality: Intense Vulnerability and Rewarding Intimacy
Perhaps you’ve heard that the two greatest fight-causing topics in marriage are sex and money. They are sensitive topics! So much goes into the sexual dynamics of a marriage, many new couples are blind-sided when they first enter into a sexual relationship and find that mutual physical attraction is perhaps the smallest aspect of love-making. A sense of trust and being safely accepted, of being pursued and desired, and of emotional closeness are bigger factors. Being sexually active with other partners, having soul-ties from other relationships regardless of sexual activity, cohabitating or having a sexual relationship with your partner before marriage, the stresses of life, tension or conflict between partners, abuse or trauma associated with sexuality, sexual addictions, or intense stories/rules about sex (picked up from your family or anywhere, like grade school) can quickly add complexity to your sexual relationship.
But sex is so important! To many people, sex is easily one of the best things God made! It provides intimacy, closeness, bonding, and intensity of experience on an almost supernatural scale. Couples can often feel a mysterious relational distance when they’ve been too busy to make love for extended periods (which is a different amount of time for every couple). Because of its intense nature, even small hurts between partners – sexually – can become wounds and deep injuries even without the hurt partner knowing it! It silently becomes easy to avoid sex, and sexual intimacy maybe feels like something to face and overcome rather than enjoy. This could stem from an off-hand comment, feeling slighted or rejected in bed, or interpreting a partner’s behaviors as rejection. Sexuality goes to our core, nothing is more vulnerable or intimate.
Since the topic of sex is generally taboo in many ways, it is easy to gloss over. Our culture and the church are guilty of letting schoolmates and Hollywood do all the teaching. (And that’s like only talking about paint colors when making a car!) The topic of sex in the context of marriage has somehow been often accepted as off-limits. But don’t let that – or anything – stand between you and your healthy sexuality with your spouse. If you are waiting for the wedding night, incrementally discuss sex with each other more intentionally – engage a balance of your last season of fasting love-making with practicing physical intimacy on a level you and your partner decide on. If you are already sexually active, have conversations about how marriage might change things and commit to staying exciting and making love regularly once you’ve made your vows. Premarital work should also help partners discuss practical things like birth control and considerations like privacy, needing to prepare an encounter and even schedule it, and the fact that it will often take a year or more for a couple to find their unique harmony and melody together.
Financial Management: Fostering Intention and Stewardship
Do you have a budget written out now? Do you save for purchases? For retirement? Creating a new budget for a household of two, or even merging solid money practices, is quite a process. Our personalities are expressed in the way we treat money. Some save, some spend, some track, some figure it will all work out. Even the most similar couples will find some differences in how they think of and treat money. Maybe she wants to save everything for a down-payment on a lovely house, and he wants to save some for the house and some for a vacation in the meantime. Who is right? It would be good to start talking about it now!
Besides the personality aspects of money, money requires intentionality and stewardship. Money left un-tended simply has a way of disappearing. Programs like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University are providing insight, plain talk, and clear guidelines today that many older couples see and say “I wish something like that had been available to us! I wish we had known this when we started!” If a premarital counselor is able to convince a couple to take time regularly (e.g., once every month) to make financial decisions together and to budget, save, and spend intentionally – they will have achieved for the couple defused arguments, protected assets, prevented mistakes, and avoided crises on a level that only someone who has gone through those things can describe.
Christian Counseling To Start Your Marriage Well
A primary goal of premarital work is to expose expectations that both partners come pre-equipped with – perhaps unknowingly. The scope of topics addressed in premarital counseling help a couple know what marriage looks like, but develops the ability to see other marital phenomenon that come up as another “topic” to be understood, normalized, and worked through. Going through these topics can provide convenient structure for each session, and also helps the couple become methodical and strategic (self-empowered) in their own marriage.
As you and your partner plan for your big day, it is essential that you also prepare for your lifetime together. A Christian counselor can help you and your spouse-to-be address these eight essential topics during the weeks and months leading up to the wedding. Please do not hesitate to contact us to learn more about how Christian counseling can facilitate the conversation that will shore up your relationship for a lifetime. I would be delighted to guide you through these areas as you prepare to make this exciting commitment to one another.
Freedigitalphotos.net – Spend or Save keys by Stuart Miles and Rings by Salvatore Vuono.
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact one of our counselors for further information.