Counseling seems scary.
But here’s a secret that could protect your future marriage- it’s not scary!
See, it isn’t counseling itself that is nerve-racking (though seeking help does often come with a stigma), but rather, it is the knowledge that at that counseling appointment, you will have to be vulnerable. You will be asked to bare your heart and soul – that’s what makes most people run the other direction. Then add your fiancé sitting next to you on that couch ALSO being vulnerable – you can see why many couples are unwilling to consider premarital as a part of their pre-wedding preparations.
We don’t want others to see the mess inside of us. It seems impossible that they could love us if they knew about our past, our weaknesses, our fears, or our failures. OR maybe we don’t want to see the mess in them! We may not want to face the fact that our partner is not perfect. Maybe this lovey-dovey stage will just go on for all eternity…
But I am here to tell you, pursuing each other’s hearts through premarital counseling may be the best decision you’ll make for your marriage. Knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses is so important for your marriage to function in a healthy way – to work together as a team!
A very wise couple (premarital counselors, themselves) told my fiancé and me, “In marriage, you must submit to each other’s strengths and protect each other’s weaknesses.”
And by that statement, they meant this: you and your future spouse are different (mind-blowing, I know… but wait, there’s more). That’s what makes you unique and likely drawn to each other! But it can also be a deep source of division. We should seek to support our partner’s strengths and defer to those. Simultaneously, we need to guard against judgement or bitterness in the areas our partner struggles.
For example, I am sure we’ve all thought one of these two things in a heated conversation:
“Maybe if I just don’t say anything, the issue will resolve itself. It’s not a big deal to me!”
“Why won’t you say something- ANYthing? For this to work, we have to resolve this issue right this very second!”
Just me and my fiancé? I’m guessing not.
How can we submit to strengths and protect weaknesses? Focus on the positives that each brings to the table. What one partner sees as withdrawing may for the other be peace-filled, instantaneous forgiveness for what happened. Or instead of getting frustrated by the nagging pursuer, know that they want more than anything to know you deeply and show you that you’re loved. Believing the best in each other is difficult! And per our premarital counselor, takes a lot of time and intentionality. Without knowing your strengths and weaknesses, it can be impossible to see the other person’s side, to understand how they tick!
So, whether you’re close to engagement, have that ring, or are even newly married (it’s not too late if you’ve been running!), know that going deep and truly seeking to understand your partner, can positively affect the way you show them love and how they respond to you in return.
And the more often you go deep with each other, the easier it gets! Soon you’ll be running to the counselor’s office just waiting to see how the two of you can press in and enrich your soon-to-be marriage and future life together!
Lindsey Strong-Sullivan, a freelance writer, is recently engaged (Jan 2017), soon to be married (May 2017), and highly recommends a short engagement to anyone considering it! Her 8 to 5 is a Public Relations position in Non-Profit. However, she loves to spend every waking moment encouraging others in their personal development, skills and passions, and most of all, their emotional health.
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