Pre Marriage Counseling and How to Pray for Fewer Symptoms of Stress

Why Pre Marital Counseling?

Couples will work for years to save for a house before they get married.  Couples will spend thousands of dollars and even more hours to have the “special” wedding of their dreams.  Knowing that couples in love are willing to put in the time and energy needed to build a life together makes it astonishing to me that pre marital counseling is rarely on the radar of things that must happen before the wedding.

I suppose it’s partly because many couples don’t know what good pre marriage counseling is and they don’t know how it might benefit them.  Also, many people still believe that any kind of “counseling” implies that you have “problems.”  With more couples divorcing than staying married, you would think that running the car through the shop for an inspection would make sense to most engaged couples.  But it doesn’t.

So here is the briefest way that I know for stating the benefits of pre marriage counseling:

  1. Pre marriage counseling can help make your love less blind.  It can reduce anger and conflict later by helping you to go into marriage with your eyes wide open.
  2. It can save you time by helping each of you to see where to focus your communication energies.  You can know which things need to be talked about each time they surface after your are married because your awareness of the pressure points grows during skillful, pre marital counseling.
  3. It can reduce the symptoms of  stress by reducing the fear of the unknown.

The Problem of Blindness to the Symptoms of Stress During Engagement

There is good stress and there is bad stress.  One feels exciting and the other feels like anxiety.  But both have same underlying physiology of the symptoms of stress:  the adrenalin response.  Translation:  less stress means less anger, fewer tears, fewer arguments, etc.

One of the most important things you can do (together and individually) is to actively, intentionally reduce the known symptoms of stress that characterize the engagement period.  It’s really alright to let some of your expectations of how things are “supposed to be” in order to relieve stress from a particular week leading up to the wedding.

3 Quick Ways to Relieve Stress

While it is normal to have symptoms of stress while you are engaged, most couples tend to have too much of it.  Here are some suggestions for relieving your stress.  Try each one of these tips and then discuss together which ones seem to work best for each of you individually and which ones seems to work for both of you.

  1. Try to say, “No” to some of your plans before the symptoms of stress and time pressure force you to say, “No.”
  2. Deep-breathing – Breathing deep can bring quick relief from an immediate stressful situation and allows you to focus.  Plus it oxygenates the blood.  Practice this together and apart.  Most people underestimate the power of this simple skill for reducing and preventing the symptoms of stress.
  3. Exercise – Fire up those endorphins while enjoying nature and your companionship.  Do you have decisions to make about the wedding?  Why not take a walk while you talk them through?

How to Pray for the Right Things at the Right Time

We tend to pray for things that fit with our perspective on what the needs are.  If you are in a small group and someone asks you to pray that he or she might find a ride to the bank, you may gladly pray for them and even help them find a ride.  But if you discover that he or she wishes to go to the bank to rob it at gunpoint, then your prayers will be very different!  Why is this?  We pray for things according to how we understand them.  During engagement, couples and individuals bring a certain perspective to the situation.  Each man and each woman has an idea in their head about what is really important.  For example, the following 4 perspectives might represent 4 different individuals preparing for a wedding:

  1. “The most important thing is that my mom and dad are happy because this is a really big deal to them.”
  2. “The  most important thing is that we enjoy every moment and not get too rattled by all the preparations and plans.”
  3. “The most important thing during this time is make sure we don’t offend any of the relatives.”
  4. “The most important thing is keep our costs down.”

You see,   a bride and a groom are going to have a certain set of expectations based on what they each view as the “most important thing.”  Similarly, if they are inclined to pray, they will each pray for different things.  So, how can couples know how to pray during the pressure and symptoms of stress that saturate the weeks leading up to the wedding?

Knowing how to pray involves asking God for perspective on the situation as it changes and unfolds.  It involves asking God to grant a willingness in our hearts to let go of some of our expectations, especially the ones that are perfectionistic and unrealistic.  It’s praying for the deeper matters in your relationship like trust, respect, caring, etc.  It means praying for the very goals that you have set together during your pre marriage counseling.

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