Seek Wise Counsel {Day 5}

Keep Calm and go to Pre-Marital Counseling...31 Days to the Altar {A guide to a short engagement} #weddingplanning #marriage #wedding #premartial #counseling #officiant

One of the easiest wedding planning decisions for us was WHO would marry us. I’ve known Sam, the young adult pastor at our church, since I first moved to Idaho 3 years ago. He tricked me into being a youth leader; we led a mission trip to Denver together; we launched into college/young adult ministry together; but most importantly- he was the one to call me out on my “more than a friend” crush on Laszlo. He was also the one I called seeking wise counsel when Laszlo asked me to be his girlfriend and I said no because I didn’t want to be one of those couples who gets married after 3 months. {Thanks for talking me into that one, Sam!}

It was an easy decision {probably the only one of the whole process}, and we knew that Sam was already booked for approximately 12 other weddings this summer {the perils of being a youth/young adult pastor}, so we had to act fast! Thirty-six hours after we got engaged we asked Sam to do the honors and got a copy of his schedule so we could set our date. After aligning all three of our calendars, we were left with few options: May or late August. We decided we’d rather enjoy our summer as a married couple instead of attending all of our friends’ weddings while still stressing out about our own plans. {That short description makes it sound like it was another easy decision. I guarantee you it was not. There were lots of hard conversations and many tears. Did I mention I have a fear of commitment?}

But once we had the date and the officiant, it was time to start what I knew would be my favorite part of engagement: pre-marital counseling! Our church requires each couple to go through pre-marital “coaching”, although we would have done it even if it weren’t required. Sam told us that he takes his couples through a 12-week program, which meant that by the time we started we were already behind. Thankfully they let us double up on our weeks and even though our last session was a mere 4 days before the wedding, we made it through with a passing grade!

We went through the book The Sacred Search Couple’s Conversation Guide. Each week we would read through and answer the questions on our own, and wait to discuss until we met up with Sam and Sara. Even though the questions seemed pretty straight forward, Sam and Sara were incredible at pulling things out that we didn’t see or expect. Some days were really hard, and we usually got into an intense discussion on the way home, but learning how to work through these things was invaluable. In the few short months we’ve been married we’ve already seen this training be put to good use as we quickly and effectively work through conflict. Our pre-marital counseling included topics like parenting styles, finances, previous relationships, adoption, conflict, and much more. It was important for us to realize that we weren’t going to figure everything out right now; we just had to know what we were getting ourselves into. All too often we hear people regretting their choice of spouse, stating, “I didn’t know she was like this.” Or “This isn’t the man I fell in love with.” Sam and Sara walked us through each of these areas, and usually asked us at the end of the night “knowing what we’ve talked about, are you willing to go forward and join your life to this (wo)man?” Thankfully our answer was “yes” –12 times over!

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I absolutely love Sam and Sara and so appreciate their investment into our relationship- both during pre-marital counseling and looking towards the future. They were very clear that their “coaching” doesn’t end when we get married. Although some people think they shouldn’t have any problems once they’ve gone through pre-marital counseling, Sam and Sara know that after the wedding is when things can get hard because you are actually living out the hypothetical situations you were talking about before you made the vows. I don’t know how people have successful marriages without pre-marital counseling. I’m sure it’s possible, but it would be very hard to make such an important commitment without the solid foundation we developed through our counseling.

Our time spent with Sam and Sara also allowed Sam the chance to get to know us even better, which made it very easy for him to personalize our wedding ceremony. He wasn’t afraid to joke with us and knew that we wanted the Truth preached. Laszlo and I bonded over our love for Timothy Keller’s book The Meaning of Marriage, and we wanted to use the opportunity to share our Christ-centered view of marriage with our friends and family in attendance. Sam did a great job of clearly laying out the Gospel and explained the central focus and purpose for marriage. I have a co-worker who told me that no wedding would ever beat ours, because it was so personal. That was also important to us, since many of our guests knew either the bride or the groom, but hadn’t spent much time with both of us together. It was EXACTLY what we wanted.

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Twelve weeks of counseling, at least 2 hours each session; that’s a lot of time. But it’s a good investment. Our end goal was not to have a WEDDING. It was to be MARRIED, so we figured we should spend our time and energy preparing for the marriage, which would last LONG past the wedding day. It was an investment that we strongly recommend and will never regret.

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Check out the other posts in the 31 days…to the altar series here.

31 Days to the altar

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