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 fifth chapter: What Should I Do If My Guy or Gal is not Interested in Pre-Engagement or Premarital Counseling?
A New Concept
Many of our pre-engaged couples have told us their friends think they are crazy for seeking out counseling before engagement. New paradigms are hard to receive at first. How many people were hesitant to try Facebook, but now cannot be dragged away from it? ~smile~
If we had all grown up watching our older siblings and friends go through pre-engagement counseling, we would find it completely normal. So, don’t be surprised or angry if you want to seek out pre-engagement counseling and your boyfriend or girlfriend is not as excited about the idea. ~smile~
Seek Individual Counseling First
If he or she is initially hesitant to join you, you may want to consider going to personal counseling. We all have baggage from our lives and it is a good idea to work through any past hurts, anger, and faulty beliefs before getting serious about marriage. Healthy people make healthy relationships, so do all you can to get yourself healthy first. While you are in counseling, your counselor or coach can help you look at your relationship objectively and give you tools for cultivating a healthy dating relationship.
If your honey is uncomfortable about the idea of pre-engagement counseling (or any kind of counseling), gently ask for specifics as to why he or she is uncomfortable. Don’t push the subject, but if he or she is willing to dialogue about it, see if you can get to the heart of the hesitation. It could be that he or she has had a bad experience with counselors. Maybe he or she knew of a couple who broke up after counseling. Maybe the idea of baring his or her soul to a stranger seems absurd or potentially dangerous.
Sometimes after we talk out our fears, we are more likely to take a step of faith. After talking, see if he or she is willing to try one session with a counselor or coach. Perhaps knowing that he or she does not have to be committed to many weeks at first will help him or her ease into the process.
Our administration of The PAIR Test is the first two sessions of the pre-engagement program. For those couples just looking to dip their feet into the pre-engagement process, it is a great starting point as we offer it as a standalone service. (And if you’re engaged or married, you too can benefit from this amazing assessment!) Additionally, it does not require the full program’s financial commitment up front – which is appealing to some couples.
Don’t Lose Your Composure
Using verbal manipulation, force, or anger is not the best way to get your sweetie into counseling. Even if he or she does go, it will not be for the right reasons or with the right attitude. If your honey is simply refusing to go to counseling, start by praying and asking God to soften his or her heart. Then after some time has passed, calmly let him or her know that going to counseling is very important to you and gently ask if he or she will reconsider it.
If your sweetheart continues to refuse, you have a decision to make. Are you willing to become engaged and married to someone who will not go to counseling? Your answer may be yes or no, but you need to be honest with yourself.
Additionally, ask yourself, is he or she unwilling to go to counseling – or – is he or she unwilling to listen to counsel? There is a huge difference. If your sweetie is uncomfortable going to counseling with someone he or she does not know, but is willing to be mentored by someone he or she does know, that shows a willingness to listen to wisdom. It is not ideal or recommended to enter into marriage without receiving counsel, but it is a major red flag if your boyfriend or girlfriend says anything like the following statement: “Our relationship is nobody’s business and I will not listen to anyone tell me how to run my life!”
So, if your sweetie is not quite ready to jump on the wagon, consider seeking counseling alone at first. Try to get to the heart of why he or she is uncomfortable with the idea, but do so gently. Remember not to lose your composure if his or her mind does not change. Be honest with yourself and ask if you are willing to enter into marriage without receiving prior counsel. If you desperately want to go through a counseling program with your honey, keep praying for his or her heart to change. If it does not, ask God if He wants you to exit the relationship. Sometimes He uses situations such as these to speak to our hearts.
We do hope you and your honey will consider pre-engagement counseling! We have thoroughly enjoyed working with couples as they get to know themselves and each other better while making that incredibly important decision, “Do we move forward to engagement?” Feel free to check out our counseling services! We would love to work with you!
If you would like to purchase your own copy of “So, You Want to be a Fiancée?,” then visit our store. And if you have a question regarding the content in this blog or another relationship related topic, feel free to contact us and we’ll be glad to serve you.
Stay tuned for our next post on how to prepare for pre-engagement counseling! ~smile~
How do you and your sweetie feel about the idea of pre-engagement counseling?