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Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by tinytim, Sep 6, 2006.
What are some good questions to ask a couple that is going through pre-marriage counselling?
I would think the first would be to make sure both parties were saved and knew it.
I just thought of something. I may need to clarify this question. I know the standard questions that we as pastors are suppose to ask... ones that reveal spirituality, questions about finances, kids, other relationships, etc...
And I could have posted this in the pastors section, but I want opinions from a wide variety of Baptists.
I guess what I am asking is:
Are there questions you think your pastor should have asked you before you were married, or questions that should be asked that we as pastors sometimes overlook?
Thank you menageriekeeper for your response. That is very important.
"Why do you want to get married?"
"Because we love each other."
"Yes, yes, I know that, but why do you want to get married?"
I'm always looking for the Christian commitment, not love.
DH and I do premarital counselling. Some of what we have the couple work out:
In your own words, define marriage.
Why do you believe this is the right time to marry?
What evidence of maturity and independence should be present in a person considering marriage?
Think of your marriage heros - couples you admire for the quality of their marriages. Make some observations about their relationship and list some reasons why you believe they have good marriages.
I would like my marriage to be like my parents' marriage in these ways:
I want my marriage to differ from my parents in these ways:
The following events and experiences of my childhood and teen years (both positive and negative) still influence my perception of life:
How would you characterize you relationship at this point in your life with the following - father, mother, siblings (looking for strained, close, warm, friendly, etc.)
We go over Genesis 1 and how God created couples and marriage (I can give you all of the questions on this if you'd like - there are 17)
Describe your life situation five years from now. Include the following plus any other details you'd like: employer and income, spouses employer and income, own or rent, where do you live, number of children and their ages, spiritual involvement, number and age of your cars, predominant leisure activities, pets.
What is the role of the husband in marriage?
What is the role of the wife in marriage?
Describe those activities which the husband alone will do as part of his role.
Describe those activities which the wife alone will do as part of her role.
Give some examples of activities either may do depending on ability and time available.
List some needs you believe you have in the following areas. Then under 'expectations' list some ways you believe your spouse will help meet those needs (I have examples if you'd like)
Spiritual, Emotional, Physical, Social, Domestic
We have one meeting time that goes over finances - a Bible study of money and then they have to prepare a budget and bring it to us. We don't look at the budget when they bring it but we do talk about it.
WE have another meeting that goes over communication and there's a list of characteristics of a communication system in good working order and they have to rate themselves on that. WE talk about being understood, arguments, reducing tensions, love languages.
The last session, we meet within the week of the wedding to discuss sexuality and this is done with the wife of the counselling couple meeting with the wife of the marrying couple and the husband with the husband.
Another important thing we do is we have each person write a letter to the fiance's parents that WILL be mailed. We tell them that they can write what they want but we suggest - a thank you to them for raising the person you're marrying, describe the kind of marriage you would like to have with their child and what you're going to do to make that happen and also letting them know how they can pray for you.
All of this is over 5 sessions. If you'd like, I can give you more details for each session - pretty much just what we give to the couple but I'm in a bit of a rush now so just typed out the highlights.
I think you ought to explain to them that after about 10 years, their relationship on a day-to-day non-romantic basis is going to be almost on the same level as being siblings, in that this goo-goo lovie-dovie mess is going to be mostly gone and you are basically and legally going to be each other's closest relatives. With that being said, I think you should ask them to imagine yourself in that situation, and ask if you would still be willing to never consider cheating on their spouse or ever leaving them. Many cannot, because they can't even get to that point.
Also ask them about being jealous. Often times when couples aren't ready for marriage, one or both of them are extremely jealous and clingy because they think there's a possibility of them seeing somebody else. You cannot live with that fear in a marriage, it will tear things apart. You should be able to trust them so much that this should never even cross your mind.
Then here is my next piece of advice:
Always, always counsel the couples you marry even when you are 99.999% sure both parties are Christian and are marrying for the right reasons.
One of these days I'll tell you why, but right now it's too close for comfort.
I have a "list" of questions that I think all couples getting ready to get married should discuss with themselves, possibly pastoral counsel, and even some of then with future in-laws. It's a list I have prepared for myself and some friends. I think it's a must.
In my mind, these questions should be answered before you get married. Not perfect answers nor written in blood or stone, but have a plan of action ready for each. The plan may work or not work, but at least ugly surprises shouldn't rear up as much.
My friends and I just think this list could ward off some potential problems especially, if both parties think the other one has the same values as they or will automatically give in, but in actuality, don't and won't.
Are we both spiritually grounded in the Lord?
Do we know each other's testimony?
What's our plan of action for having bible study and prayer together, as a couple?
Do I know and respect your spiritual gifts? Do you know and respect mine?
Are we on the "same page" as for as doctrine is concerned?
Whose church are we going to?
Where are we going to live?
At Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other traditional occasions, whose house are we going to....my parents or your parents or will we alternate or come up with something different?
What's our plan of action for resolution when we have a huge fight? (Granted, when a couple is in the middle of a big blow-up, probably neither one of them will care about the "plan".....but if at least one of them can calm down, perhaps the "plan" will occasionally work and help to solve the problem or at least temper it somewhat.)
Are we going to have children?
When are we going to have children?
How many children are we going to have?
Who is going to take care of the children and in what capacity?
What does "husband, love your wife" mean on a practical and daily basis?
What does "wife, respect and revere your husband" mean on a practical and daily basis?
Whose paycheck will pay for what bills?
Will we have a joint checking account or separate?
How will we file income taxes? Together? Separately?
What are our future thoughts on taking care of our parents when they are too old to take care of themselves?
What do we want to accomplish for the cause of Christ, as a couple?
Whew! I know that couples may think that they have an answer for these questions, but then the reality of marriage may deal them a completely different deck of cards than they or he or she intended.
But at least they will have talked about these things before hand and each other's opinions and beliefs and values should not come as a surprise to the other one. And in that respect, things could possibly run smoother....not perfect, but possibly smoother.
Thanks, this is examples of things that are never taught in Bible college classes.
I would second HopeofGlory's answer. Why do you want to get married. But the thing that we must realize is that people are great actors So pre-marriage counseling is only going to work if couples want to be absolutely honest with the pastor.
I'm also curious - does your churches have any qualifications for marrying a couple? Such as - do they need to be members of your church, do they have to be Christians, what if they've been divorced, etc.
One question that I have wondered why it is never asked and is, in my opinion, paramount in the marriage:
To the man: Do you trust your relationship with the Lord to be enough to guide a marriage and family?
To the woman: Do you trust his relationship with the Lord?
The reason for this is that so many marriages fall apart or at least get severely strained by the power struggle. But if they both feel secure about the man's relationship with the Lord, then the woman will be far more willing to move into her role as co-pilot instead of pilot.
There is another thing which is not a question, but something I would want all couples everywhere, who are Christian, to be told. It is something my husband has done with me and the results are incredible: do not criticize your mate, even in private. Pray about the 'fault' and let God do the changing. Barry's absolute refusal to criticize me since he met me has resulted in me leaving a very defensive personality behind and opening up and being changed by the Lord in much, MUCH better ways. Barry has absolute confidence in the Lord's handling of any situation, including me.
Perhaps another question which should be asked is "Are you at peace with one another?" To be at peace with a person you are going to marry is saying, "With this person, I'm home. Wherever we are, I'm home."
It would be nice if we could ask someone "Are you saved?" and get a truthful answer. Often we cannot. Games get played, people get manipulated. The "right answer" gets given for their own purposes. But perhaps being at peace with one another and trusting the other's relationship with the Lord is probably about as close as you can honestly get.
Thought of another question: "Who's going to raise the kids?" It's one thing to get married, and another to farm out your kids for others to raise... What sort of rules do they want in their house?
Do they know how to make a budget? Do they know how to live simply? Can she cook? Are they willing to not buy something until they have the money for it?
Kids and money and power and trust. The big four...right? If they are both loving God and paying attention to Him -- most hopefully as truly born again Christians -- those four mountains can be moved. Otherwise, as with so many marriages, one battle after another ensues.
Since we will both be middle-aged in our first marriage, I don't think there are any questions that need to be asked beyond whether we are Christians and what it means to be such. That's only because anyone doing a marriage ceremony is entitled to know who they are marrying. But after a quarter century of living as adults with all the ups and downs in business, social relationships, other family members getting married and having kids while we weren't, going on trips together, involving the other in our major decisions... simply being put on the spot with questions that are either difficult in philosophy, or embarrassing in simplicity, to answer is not going to help a frazzlin thing.
Here is a set of questions I use for two Christians that are planning on marriage:
1. Why do you want to marry?
2. Why do you want to now, as opposed to 3 yrs from now?
3. Where will you live?
4. How will you support yourselves?
5. Will you have separate bank accounts or a joint one?
How will you decide what comes out of each paycheck?
Who will be in charge of finances?
6. What do you expect marriage to feel like?
7. In 10 years from now, the romantic feelings you feel now are probably going to fade away, can you commit to stay with your spouse even when you don’t “feel” like you are in love?
8. Describe what a typical day in your marriage may be like:
a. 1 week after wedding
b. 1 yr after wedding
c. 5 yrs after wedding
d. when you’re old and grey.
9. How many children do you want?
10. When do you want them?
11. What kind of birth control will be used if any?
12. Who will be responsible for the birth control, husband or wife?
13. How will you decide how to give each other alone time?
14. Do you have lustful thoughts about others?
15. If so, do you expect those thoughts to stop after the wedding?
16. When you have children, how will you keep the romance in your relationship?
17. When your parents offer unsolicited advice (and they will) how will you deal with them?
18. Will you run to your parents to “tattle” on each other when you get into a fight?
a. In a disagreement, who makes the final decision?
19. Describe a plan of action to resolve any disagreements.
20. Would you be able to follow the plan of action in the heat of the battle?
21. How would you describe your relationship with Christ?
22. What is your spiritual responsibility in your marriage?
23. Who will be the spiritual leader in your home?
24. How will you lead your children into spiritual things?
25. What is the one question you would want to ask your future spouse before you marry them?
Tell me what you think....(I know, I have just set myself up!!!! lol)
The only question I think I would take out was the one about lustful thoughts. That's asking something pretty personal that I don't think would necessarily be beneficial to the discussion. Otherwise, I think it's good. How many times would you meet with a couple?
As someone stated earlier, many couples marry for wrong reasons. Pre-marital counseling should definitely cover this.
And the spiritual line of questioning is a must.
tinytim, how important do you feel it is to ask couples "What kind of birth control will be used if any? Who will be responsible for the birth control, husband or wife?" What advice do you hope to share after hearing their responses to these questions?