Success in marriage has more to do with properly managing the balance of conflict than romance. Both have a lot of variables that differ from couple to couple.
I am sometimes able to provide some pastoral help for couples, but because I am not a licensed counselor I sometimes will refer couples with perplexing issues to a trusted Christian counselor friend who specializes in Family and Marriage, who works at Pathways Professional Counselors out of the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home in Mobile, Alabama.
Before You Say “I Do”
I do not require premarital counseling before I’ll officiate a wedding, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in it. I just believe that a couple must want biblical guidance in order to benefit from it. In fact, couples who themselves understand the value of premarital counseling and engage in some sort of “premarital counseling” reduce their risk of divorcing by 30%.
I believe in premarital counseling that is marriage education based, rather than problem-issue driven. Marriage education is a lot like doing the research before you take a vacation. You figure out your travel options, plan your route, lodging, and activities with the purpose of having a pretty good understanding of what you can expect to potentially see and do while on your vacation.
If I am already booked to officiate your wedding and you want to meet in advance to talk about your upcoming marriage or issues that are causing some concern, then I am happy to meet with you at our Chapel or at a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, depending on our schedules and locations.
The Key is Conflict
My Grandma once told me, “We all learn to love. Love is what brings us together, but fighting, and learning how to fight fair is what keeps us together.” There is a lot of truth to that, but it is a truth that is often not understood until we are far down the road of aging.
If you talk to couples who have been marriage 20, 30, 40, years or more you will hear a similar experience – there were times we came close to calling it quit, but after sticking it out and getting further down the road we woke up one day realizing that we’ve arrived.
How we handle conflict in marriage is usually how we determined to handle it before we even have conflict. That’s why I encourage couples to take the 5 Love Language inventory before they marry.
Marriage should be a little bit of heaven on earth. It is given to humanity as the living representation of the image of our Creator, a model of the heavenly union between Christ and the Church.
Marriage is not just a gift to make us happy, but also to make us holy, which it does through its unique character sanctifying relational dynamics of commitment with one different from the other, and the ideal of perpetuating the human family through the ability to procreate and parent through the context that mirrors the image of God through a mother and father, husband and wife, male and female.
However, we are sinful humans and conflicts arise frequently in the best of marriage relationships, so I encourage couples to settle in their hearts and minds to be committed to making their marriage successful.