Pre-Marital Counseling

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Pre-Marital Counseling

Pre-marital counseling is a way to enrich your relationship so that it has every opportunity to grow into a satisfying and stable marriage. Pre-marital counseling will give you clearer pictures of yourselves as individuals, and of your relationship as a couple; you will learn your strengths, and identify areas where growth is needed. By learning more about yourselves, you will be better able to spot problems developing long before they become a serious threat to your relationship.  

Typically, pre-marital counseling covers a variety of topics including: conflict management, friends, finances, spirituality,  sexuality, children, gender roles and expectations. You will have the opportunity to discuss the families in which you grew up, and learn how your family experiences influence your couple relationship. Pre-marital counseling will introduce you to effective ways to communicate and solve problems together.

What can you expect from Reverend Joplin?
  • Honest responses to your questions and concerns
  • Confidentiality

A Common Question

Question:    Why do I suggest pre-marital counseling for people I marry?

Answer:    Do you realize that it is harder to get a driver’s license than it is to get a marriage license? Nearly half of the marriages today end up in divorce court. I, believe that it is worth it to make every effort to insure that people know how to make the most of their marriage before it even starts. Pre-marital counseling helps to develop marriages with healthy, positive views such as:
    Partner & marriage are special
    Respect, value, care, & love
    Separateness & togetherness both are ok
    Handle conflict positively, successfully
    Humor & play without sarcasm & put-downs
    Healthy connection with family of origin
    Feelings & opinions accepted, not rejected
    Differences of opinion openly talked about
    Freedom to bring up any issue without fear or rejection
    Flexibility of roles

When two people are dating, they usually put their best foot forward. Their partner sees the best side of them. When you change that situation to living with someone on a daily basis, their faults or little habits (and we all have them) are no longer concealed.

In a healthy relationship, the two people are bound together by their love for one another, but are still individuals with their own personalities. These two people grew up in different families, and may be coming into marriage with assumptions about how key issues will be dealt with. Some of the issues seem minor, but when two people disagree about an issue, it can cause problems and hurt feelings.

It is recommended that you attend pre-marital counseling so you can disclose and discuss your feelings and opinions on several topics. You may think "Oh, we've already talked about all that stuff, so we're all set." You probably have already discussed many topics, but by meeting with an experienced pastor/counselor, he or she may bring up some issues you haven't thought of. Or, in some cases, one partner feels like they have already discussed everything, when in reality the conversation was one sided: one partner talked, while the other one listened.

There are many other issues to sort out. It goes much smoother and you tend to stay on track better with a pastor/counselor present. Many religions require you to attend pre-marital counseling if you are getting married in the church. If this is not the case for you, I strongly encourage you to invest this time into your relationship.

Pre-Marital Counseling/Part 1

Communication Topics for GrowthHere are some topics for communication between partners who desire to grow their relationship.

  • What three things do I admire in you?
  • What three things do I like about myself?

  • What two things do I dislike about myself and what am I prepared to change?

  • How can I help you realize how important you are to me?
  • What are some ways we can help each other grow in forgiveness?

  • List three people who encourage me. How do they specifically do this?

  • What is the best way I can encourage you?

  • What do I see as the biggest differences between us? Which of these tend to bring us closer together?

  • How can our differences improve our understanding of each other?
  • List several things which I consider are romantic.

Pre-Marriage Counseling/Part 2

This tool is designed to help couples learn more about themselves and their unique relationship.

Key marital relationship factors:
    1.      Pre-marital Assessment

      Couple not previously married
      Interfaith couple
      Second marriage couple
      Cohabiting couple
      Pre-marital Instruction
      The Marriage Institution
      Family backgrounds
      Expectations in Marriage
      Fulfilling Needs In Marriage
      Love as a Basis for Marriage
      Sex in Marriage
      Divorce and Remarriage

    3.     Background Checks

      Criminal History
      Marriage & Divorce Records
      Credit History
      Motor Vehicle Report
      Education verification
      Professional License Verification
      Employment & Earning Summary
      Worker's Compensation History
      SSN Verification
      Reference Checks
      Business Credit Reports
      Name & Address Verification

Couple Quiz/Part 3

This quiz is designed to start you thinking and talking about your relationship with your partner. It is not designed to be scientifically accurate or a predictor of a successful relationship.  When you meet with your pastor, take the opportunity to give honest and thoughtful answers to these questions:

  • My partner and I have a very close relationship.
  • My partner has some habits I dislike.
  • I can share positive and negative feelings with my partner.
  • We have some important disagreements that never seem to get resolved.
  • We have similar styles of spending and saving.
  • I sometimes feel pressured to participate in activities my partner enjoys.
  • I am very satisfied with the amount of affection I receive.
  • I have some concerns about my partner as a parent.
  • I believe household responsibilities should be shared equally.
  • We sometimes disagree on our spiritual beliefs.
  • Where will you live after getting married?
  • Are you both going to work?
  • Are there theological differences to be dealt with?
  • How will you spend your holidays?
  • Do you want to have children? How many? How far apart?
  • How will you discipline them?
  • Who will discipline them?
  • How will financial decisions be handled?
  • Who will pay the bills? (actually write the checks)
  • How do you feel about using credit cards?

Pre-Marriage Compatibility Rating /Part 4

Decisions about who to marry and have children with are likely to have more effect on future happiness than any other decisions in life, so they are worth considering as soberly as possible, given that we can be so easily misled in the first flush of love.

  • There is very little conflict in our relationship.

  • When there is conflict we handle it very satisfactorily.

  • I find myself agreeing with my partner far more often than disagreeing.

  • If my partner ended up developing a similar character to his/her parents, or became like them in old age, I would be very happy about this.

  • I feel that I can share all my feelings, good and bad, with my partner and that he/she does the same with me.

  • My partner is very similar to me in cultural, social, intellectual and economic background and probably in intelligence.

  • We share similar philosophies of life or spiritual beliefs.

  • We share the same sense of humor.

  • My partner's health is good, I would describe him/her as basically a happy person and I don't think he/she is likely to suffer from depressions, obsessions, excessive anxieties or other mental health problems.

  • My partner is sensitive and kind and not selfish or self-obsessed.

  • If I lived in a society where parents arranged marriages for their children, my partner is just the kind of person my parents might have chosen for me.

  • We have a lot of conversational interests in common, I enjoy his/her conversation on a variety of topics and I like his/her friends.

  • Judging by track record to date, my partner is monogamous when in a serious relationship.

  • We agree on the extent of freedom within marriage as regards other relationships and I therefore don't think jealousy will be a problem for either of us.

The Ten Qualities Of A Happy Marriage/Part 5

The ten qualities of a happy marriage are listed below. Discuess each term with your intended and see if you both are in the same place with respects to your answers.
    Maturity And Responsibility
    Conflict Resolution
    Gender Roles and Sex

Reverend Alan L. Joplin
1356 East Saint Anne Ave.
Phoenix, Arizona 85007

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