PREMARITAL COUNSELING

guidelines

eligibility

1.      In order for a couple to be eligible for this premarital counseling course, both persons must be members in good standing of his/her church before premarital counseling begins, and must intend to be members of Savior Community Church after the wedding, for at least the first year of marriage.

2.      Both persons in the couple must abide by the Rules listed below for premarital counseling.  Failure to abide by all the listed Rules below will immediately terminate the counselor’s agreement to officiate the ceremony without exception. 

RULES

1.      Complete all readings and respond to all questions given in the Premarital Counseling Couple’s Questionnaire Homework.

2.      Write out your responses to these questions completely, honestly, and by yourself.  Do not discuss them with your partner yet.

3.      Email your responses to your counselor and to your partner at least 24 hours before your next counseling meeting.  Just copy/paste the questions and your responses directly into an email (instead of attaching a file).

Rand: randcho.scc@gmail.com

Christine: christinme403@gmail.com

4.      Read your partner’s responses and discuss any points of interest and/or concern before the counseling meeting.

5.      Come to the counseling meeting with comments/questions about homework, wedding, current issues you are facing as a couple, or any other issue that relates to your relationship.

PROMISES

1.      Your confidentiality is protected.  Information that you share about your relationship will not be shared to anyone else for any reason.  The only exception to this would be in the case of physical or sexual abuse; in such a case, Rand is a legally mandated reporter and must alert law enforcement.

2.      You are allowed to ask anything to us (Rand and Christine) about our relationship regarding friendship, love, dating, marriage, sex, emotional intimacy, commitment, reconciliation, finance, time management, birth control, parenting, in-laws, church, community, and (of course) Christian faith.  You can ask anything, no matter how uncomfortable or vulnerable.  You will be met with a complete and honest response.  We make available to you our personal histories, including our mistakes and all the lessons and wisdom we’ve been able to gather over our years of marriage.  We hope you will also protect our confidentiality, as these answers often include information that we prefer to deliver ourselves to those who would like to hear.

3.      There is no charge for members of Savior Community Church to have Rand officiate your wedding nor to conduct your Premarital Counseling.  Dinner is provided for you at each meeting.  There are five meetings.

GOAL

The purpose and goal for Premarital Counseling is to establish for you a strong and bright focus on building not just a good wedding, but a healthy marriage.  The time of engagement is often filled with stress and busyness over preparing a ceremony and reception.  Our hope is to make sure that you as a couple can keep a right perspective on God’s design for marriage, as this next chapter in life (when done properly) is a self-denying act of worship and a daily leap of faith.

 

 

SESSION 1: FAITH & THEOLOGY OF MARRIAGE

YOUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION

1.      In one paragraph, explain the gospel.

2.      How did you come to saving faith?

3.      Describe your present relationship with God: how is He teaching you, growing you, humbling you right now? 

4.      How often do you read the Bible?  How often do you pray?

5.      To whom do you go for counsel and accountability?

6.      How are you currently serving in the church?

7.      How (if at all) do you and your partner grow in the Word together?  Is this what you believe is right?

8.      Do you and your partner pray together?  If so, how often?  Is this what you believe is right?

9.      What changes will you make in order to do what is right by both of you, regarding your investment in the Word and prayer together?

10.   Describe the kind of and level of commitment you expect you and/or your spouse to have in church or ministry.

11.   What kind of participation and relationships do you expect each other to have among church members?

WHO YOU’RE WITH

12.   How did you meet your partner?  How long have you known each other?

13.   What are your favorite memories with/of your partner?

14.   Of all of the persons in your life that you have met and could have married, why are you choosing your partner?

15.   What attracted you to your partner initially?

16.   What do you believe your spouse will help you become?

17.   What do you believe you will help your spouse become?

18.   Are there any areas of gladness that you cherish in your relationship?

19.   Are there any areas of hurt or regret that you remember in your relationship?

WHERE YOU’RE AT

20.   Read Genesis 3:16-18, Ephesians 5:15-33, 1 Peter 3:1-7, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16.  Write down any thoughts/questions on these.

21.   What is the husband’s role in marriage according to all these passages? 

22.   What is the wife’s role in marriage according to all these passages? 

23.   Describe your parents’ marriage.  Were there any major crises?  Has their relationship affected your expectations of marriage?

24.   Is there any abuse in your past that might seriously affect your marriage (verbal, physical, emotional, sexual)?

25.   Is there any addiction in your past that may affect your marriage (alcohol, smoking, drugs, etc.)?

26.   What relational strengths do you believe you bring to your marriage?

27.   What relational strengths does your partner bring to your marriage?

28.   What relational weaknesses do you believe you have that would affect your marriage?

29.   What relational weaknesses do you believe your partner has that would affect your marriage?

30.   What fears or concerns do you have that you believe would affect your marriage?

31.   What do you believe is the purpose of marriage?

32.   What do you believe is the purpose of engagement?

TO THE WOMAN:

33.   How do you plan to accomplish your role?

34.   Do you have any concerns about your partner’s spiritual life: his ability to lead you, care for you, love and provide for you?

35.   In which areas do you see that your partner needs to grow?

TO THE MAN:

33.   How do you plan to accomplish your role?

34.   Do you have any concerns about your partner’s spiritual life: her ability to respect you, follow you, and submit to your leadership?

35.   In which areas do you see that your partner needs to grow?

 

SESSION 2: PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, AND TIME INTIMACY

PHYSICAL INTIMACY

1.      Read Exodus 20:14 slowly.  Write the sentence 5 times, each time capitalizing a different word.  How does the emphasis change?

2.      Read Hebrews 13:4.  If Christians are forgiven and saved from God’s wrath, how is this warning for believers?

3.      What does sexual purity look like in your relationship right now? 

4.      Have you had sex before?  Has this characterized your relationship?  For how long?

5.      Are you abstaining from sexual intimacy now?

6.      Read 1 Corinthians 7:1-5.  Summarize what this passage says, including the instructions and the reasons why.

7.      How often do you expect physical intimacy (sexual intercourse) with one another?

8.      How do you intend to resolve differences in sexual preferences?

9.      Are there certain things that are clearly off limits in regards to sex (certain practices, positions, paraphernalia, etc.)?

10.   When is the best time for you two to resolve differences in sexual preferences (instead of during sex!)?

11.   Do you both agree that sexual intimacy is only to be shared between the two of you, and no one else, as long as you both live?

12.   Read Matthew 5:27-30.  How does this affect you prior to your marriage as well as during your marriage?

13.   How does that passage affect how you display your affection in front of people who see you two?  What should be your intent?

EMOTIONAL INTIMACY

14.   Read 1 John 4:18.  What is the intent of this verse?  How does it apply especially in marriage as spouses are to exercise godly love?

15.   Do you believe that affairs of the heart are equally impermissible as sexual affairs?

16.   What are your expectations on how your spouse should behave when alone with someone of the opposite sex?

17.   Do you agree with your partner’s expectation on how you should behave when alone with someone of the opposite sex?

18.   Do you think you should confess to your spouse when you feel interest/attraction to someone else or should you avoid talking about it so as not to instill fear and jealousy?  What do you prefer your spouse do for you when s/he is in that position?

19.   Do you commit to refrain from talking about intimate details of your marriage to a person of the opposite sex?

[Note: the exception to this is when speaking to a therapist or clergy in a counseling setting]

20.   What do you do that makes you feel close to your partner?

21.   What does your partner do that makes you feel close to your partner?

22.   Read Matthew 19:5-6 and Malachi 2:14.  Even when someone was not emotionally interested in his/her spouse, what does God say bonded them?  How does this teach us for when we do not feel emotionally intimate?

TIME INTIMACY

23.   Read Deuteronomy 24:5.  What does this tell you about how God valued marriage and protected it for the newlyweds in Israel?

24.   How much time can your spouse spend with friends apart from you? Do you expect a minimum or maximum amount?

25.   How much time do you expect to dedicate exclusively to one another (like date nights) each week, just to catch up and have fun?

26.   How much alone time do you need either daily or weekly or monthly, etc.?

27.   How can your alone time occasionally be of benefit to your partner so that s/he does not feel distant/forgotten/neglected?

 

SESSION 3: COMMITMENT & CONFLICT RESOLUTION

COMMITMENT

1.      Read Malachi 2:13-16.  What was the problem the people were facing in v13?  What caused that problem (v14)?

2.      In that passage, when the author is speaking of divorcing, why is the word “faithless” used instead of “unfaithful”? 

3.      Read Matthew 5:31-32.  What is the one basis by which Jesus says a person can rightfully divorce?

4.      Read 1 Corinthians 7:10-11.  In the event of a divorce, separation, or marriage annulment (which are all functionally the same thing), what is expected of the divorcees?

5.      Have you ever been engaged before?  Have you ever been married before?  Have you ever had sexual intimacy with someone else (whom you are not currently engaged to) before?  If so (for either of you two), how have you discussed and processed this?  As these are violations of your marital covenant, has your fiancé/fiancée forgiven you if you have committed such a violation?  If you are the one who is forgiving, do you promise never to bring up the past as an attack on your partner since the past has been forgiven? 

6.      Read 1 Corinthians 7:39.  When does your marital covenant end?

7.      Rewrite Matthew 19:6.  Explain what this means for the two of you as a married couple.

Conflict Resolution

8.      Understanding the magnitude of your commitment to one another under marital covenant (as explored in the section above), how does this frame your approach to resolving conflict with the person to whom you are committed?

9.      What emotional support do you expect from a spouse when you are sad, ill, angry at someone, unemployed?

10.   List two things that make you defensive when your partner brings them up.  Why?

11.   List two of your strongest defense mechanisms.

12.   What is the most fragile and/or insecure part of your partner?  How can you protect him/her in that area?

13.   Based on your partner’s childhood family experiences, what can you learn about how he/she tends to deal with conflict?

14.   When you are hurt by your partner, do you try to reconcile immediately or do you wait till later or bottle it up?  What does your partner do when he/she is hurt by you?

15.   When you realize you have hurt your partner, do you try to reconcile immediately?  What does your partner do when he/she realizes he/she has hurt you?

16.   What things have you done to your partner that required reconciliation?  Have these been resolved?  How?

17.   What things has your partner done to you that required reconciliation?  Have these been resolved?  How?

18.   When trying to resolve conflict, how well does your partner try to:

a)      Express Remorse – saying, “I’m sorry about [what I did],” or “I feel bad about how I [treated you]” (Note: expressing remorse must include mentioning the specific action that caused hurt).

b)     Admit Responsibility – saying, “I know what I did embarrassed you,” or “I shouldn’t have made you feel that way” (Note: admitting responsibility must include acknowledging the damage done to the partner).

c)      Make Amends – saying, “let me make it up to you by…” (Note: making amends should include an offer to restore harmony, but be careful not to give more than what’s appropriate especially when you feel guilty).

d)     Rebuilt Trust – saying, “it won’t happen again; I will…” (Note: rebuilding trust should include a new course of action to prevent repeating the same mistake.  Drastic changes are unrealistic; stay realistic and manageable).

19.   When trying to resolve conflict, how much do you try to do each of the above?

20.   When trying to resolve conflict, what is most important for you to hear or feel or understand from your partner?

21.   Can either of you ask for a short time-out to calm down and pray and be creative in your problem solving?

22.   What habits or rituals will you develop to reach out to each other after a big fight?

 

SESSION 4: HOME, WORK, FINANCES, AND CHORES

Living Arrangements

1.      What factors are considered when choosing the location of your home?

2.      Will you need to be close to your parents either as you get together now or as they get older?

3.      When do you plan to move?  For what reasons?

Balancing Work

4.      What do you hope to achieve in the near future and the distant future regarding your career?

5.      Do you hope to leave a legacy after you die?  If yes, describe.

6.      How much time is appropriate to give to your work during the week?

Finances

7.      Which of you is supporting the family financially?  Will that change if you have children?

8.      Are you both comfortable with the salary differential between you?  Does the difference affect decision-making authority?

9.      Will you have separate or joint checking accounts or both?  If separate, why and who takes care of which expenses?

10.   Do you agree to have full financial disclosure about each of your personal financial situations at all times?

11.   How will strong disagreements about spending money be resolved?

12.   Is there any debt that either partner has incurred before the marriage (like school loans or credit card debt)?

13.   What amount of available money does each of you need to have to feel comfortable?

14.   What kind of savings plan will you use?  What for? 

15.   How much credit card debt or home equity loan debt is acceptable?

16.   How much are you willing to take care of the financial needs of your own parents if they need?  What about your spouse’s parents?

17.   How will you budget for your children’s school (private school, school supplies, college, etc.)?

18.   When do you hope to begin savings for retirement?  Life insurance?

19.   Will you use a financial planner?

HOUSEHOLD CHORES

20.   What did your parents model for you concerning who did what in the family?  Did you feel that was fair and do you expect something different?

21.   Indicate whether or not that role is for the husband (H), the wife (W), or both (B).  After you’re done, discuss your answers together; for every item that you answered differently on, try to come to an agreement and then mark a star next to the agreed upon answer.  If you cannot agree, we will discuss it in our session to try to help.

_____    Automobile care

_____    Bible study & prayer at home

_____    Cooking & baking

_____    Decorating the house

_____    Disciplining the children

_____    Dishes

_____    Grocery shopping

_____    Handling finances (paying bills, checkbook)

_____    Initiating discussions about the relationship

_____    Initiating sex

_____    Laundry

_____    Maintaining ties with friends and relatives

_____    Making major decisions

_____    Pet Care

_____    Plan leisure activities

_____    Providing income            

_____    Scheduling social events

_____    Shopping for other needs

_____    Staying home with children

_____    Taking care of aging parents

_____    Taking out the trash

_____    Taxes

_____    Tidying mess, dusting, wiping

_____    Vacuuming

_____    Yard work

 

SESSION 5: CHILDREN & FAMILY

Having Children

1.      Do you plan on using birth control?

2.      Do you plan to have children?  If yes, how many?  If no, skip the rest of this section.

3.      Are you considering adoption?  Is it conditional (for instance, only if you cannot have biological kids, or after 2 biological kids)?

4.      When do you plan to have children?

5.      How far apart would you want your kids to be in age?

6.      What kinds of philosophies did your parents have about child raising and do you agree or disagree?

7.      What values do you want your children to have?

8.      How do each of you intend to instill these values into your children?  How can you model, display, and teach them?

9.      What kinds of punishment are appropriate or not appropriate?

10.   What kinds of expectations do you each have about money spent on toys, clothes, etc.?

11.   Do you plan to send your kids to public, private, or home school?  For how long before changing to a different type of school?

Handling Parents & Siblings

12.   What is your parents’ attitude toward your partner?

13.   What is your partner’s parents’ attitude toward you?

14.   Have any family members expressed reservations or disapproval of your marriage?  What and why?

15.   What kind of relationship do you expect to have with your parents and your in-laws once you’re married?

16.   How much time should be spent with your parents?  Together or just one of you?

17.   How much time should be spent with your spouse’s parents?  Together or just one of you?

18.   What will be the holiday expectations of your parents and your spouse’s parents?

19.   What are your expectations on how (and with whom) to spend holidays?

20.   What kind of support do you expect from your spouse when you’re under pressure from your parents?  From your in-laws?

21.   Is it OK for either of you to talk with parents about the problems of the relationship?

22.   What kind of relationship do you expect your kids to have with your parents?  Your spouse’s parents?

23.   Do you anticipate that you will ever want a parent to live with the two of you when you grow old?

24.   Describe your relationship with your siblings.  Is there anything that could be a concern for your spouse?

25.   Describe your relationship with your spouse’s siblings.  Is there anything that is a concern for you?

YOUR TOP FIVE NEEDS

26.   Circle the number that corresponds to how you feel about that particular area.  Work separately.  After you’re both done, exchange results listing your top five needs and your three least important.

 

Not Important                                                                                Very Important

Admiration

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Affection

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Alone Time

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Cleanliness

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Commitment

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Companionship

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Conversation

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Financial Support

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Honesty

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Intimacy

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Personal Space

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Physical Fitness

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Respect

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Security

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Sex

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Shared Activities

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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