This past year, Eric and I wrote a book titled: “So You Want to be a Fiancée?: How pre-engagement counseling can change your life.” During this series, we are highlighting a handful of chapters! Today, we’re looking at the seventh chapter: Preparing for Pre-Engagement Counseling
Being the psychology nerds that we are, Eric and I looked forward to premarital counseling more than most couples. In fact, when we were just friends, we decided to sign up for our college’s premarital counseling class with one of our campus pastors – and, perhaps we did not think that one through too clearly.
We show up and find ourselves among couples who are just months or weeks away from their weddings. Who goes to premarital counseling with their college pal just to learn? Apparently, we did. (Perhaps this was our pre-pre-engagement counseling. ~smile~) I don’t think they bought that we were not dating, but we truly were just friends at the time!
Most couples are not going to approach relational counseling with the same gleeful delight that we did (and that’s okay), but you can do some preparation to make your own counseling experience even more rewarding!
When is prayer ever a bad idea? Before beginning your sessions, ask God to reveal His will to you both as you go through the process. Ask Him to bring areas of growth needed to your attention. Additionally, ask other couples to pray for you. There is power in prayer, so the more people lifting you up, the better!
Spend Time with Other Couples
If you have followed our blog for some time, then you likely remember me talking about my mentor, Miss Betty. Miss Betty spent countless hours listening to me as a kid. She let me rattle on and on about my kid problems, she cooked with me, and she sang praise and worship songs with me on her front porch swing. She really invested in my life. Because I thought so much of her, I wanted to be like her. I still do!
Perhaps the greatest lesson Miss Betty ever taught me was how to treat a husband. She loved her husband in word and deed. She did not speak harshly about him behind his back. She laughed when he told jokes. And perhaps my fondest memory of them is her reaction when he would pull in the garage from work. She would say, “Yay!” and meet him at the door. Who wouldn’t want to come home to a greeting like that? ~smile~
Spending time with them painted a healthy picture of a God-honoring marriage in my young eyes. It made me want what they had (and have). Find couples you admire and spend time with them. Watch how they speak to each other and how they interact. Take notes. Ask questions. From our book: “Mentors are a powerful presence in our lives. One of the best ways to prepare for your own marriage is by spending time with couples who are living the kind of marriage you want to have someday.”
Make a List of Discussion Points
Make a list of what you want to discuss with your pre-engagement counselor. Instead of just showing up and covering the topics they have pre-planned (assuming your pre-engagement counselor follows a curriculum), write down topics you want to discuss with a counselor. Is there something specific to your relationship that you want to discuss in detail? Are you both coming off of bad breakups? Are you children of divorce and want to take extra safeguards for your relationship? Are you an intercultural couple who is concerned about blending two cultures? Are you concerned that you have more than the average share of conflicts and want to make sure you are handling them positively?
Talk this over with your sweetheart and make a list of all the topics you would like to discuss. Then each of you should pick your top three subjects of interest. If you meet for a consultation prior to beginning the counseling process, discuss the list with your counselor. Chances are, several of your listed topics are already covered in the curriculum; however, if the counselor or coach knows you want to dive into certain areas more deeply, he or she can emphasize the subjects you highlight. If you do not have a consultation prior to the start of counseling, e-mail your list and ask the counselor to review it before the first session to help him or her tailor how he or she is going to help you.
Preparing for counseling is not a must, but it will help you to get the most out of the process. While you are mentally and emotionally preparing, also plan time in your schedule for out of session assignments and reading. Doing so will take a time commitment, but the more you put into the assignments, the more you will get out of the program! ~smile~
For more information on how to prepare for pre-engagement counseling, check out our book, So You Want to be a Fiancée? And if you have a question about preparing for your pre-engagement counseling sessions, feel free to contact us and we will answer your questions!
On Monday, we will touch on the topics you can expect to cover during pre-engagement counseling!
In what other ways would be beneficial for you in preparing for pre-engagement counseling?