It is preferable that the couple NOT prepare ahead of time for this first meeting; I’ll explain why in a moment. For you to get to know the couple and to make them feel comfortable and at ease with you, your spouse, and with the counseling process. To discern the spiritual condition of the counselees, and the degree to which each is familiar with the spiritual history and commitment of the other. To discern problem areas which might disqualify the couple for marriage, and determine if the couple meets the qualifications for marriage. To come to an understanding of the necessity of sexual purity prior to their marriage. To outline the counseling process and what will be required of the couple. Should you grant your approval for their wedding and for the church’s involvement if one or more parents are against it? You may want to devote an entire meeting or more just to address this issue.You, on the other hand, will have prepared and have a mental outline of what you would like to accomplish. Schedule all other meetings, about one month apart, and outline what will be covered in each meeting. To clarify that no announcements should be sent out until approval by the counseling couple is given and communicated to the Officiant and church Office. Consult with other Pre-Marriage Counselors who may have experienced this situation, and certainly seek the counsel of the Elders and Deacons of the church.Encourage the couple to complete the assignments separately. The church’s Pre-Marriage Counseling and/or Wedding Process, states that after the first meeting you and the Wedding Officiant are to decide if the couple qualifies to continue.Using this book as a resource helps facilitate an orderly approach to gleaning from God’s Word topics related to marriage. How and why did you decide that you should get married? Since you are postponing this requirement to the next meeting, this won’t be completed. Pre-Marriage counseling is a process, and it’s better to get to the heart of the matter rather than to complete a checklist.Our responsibility is to respond to life’s events in a manner that pleases the Lord, not to change our spouses into what we want.Even if we respond biblically, we have no guarantee that our spouses will respond in kind. Is it your desire to have a Christian ceremony and Christian wedding? If the couple knows ahead of time they will be asked about their faith, they will have time to “prepare” an answer. It was mentioned earlier that it would be preferable for the couple to come unprepared for this meeting.
To be specific, you need to find out if the couple is involved physically and to what extent.
But if we remain faithful to God, pouring out our emotions before him, renewing our commitment to seek him, trusting him to guide us in our responses, then he will sustain us through our trials and provide rich fellowship with him.
What follows is a guide for counselors to take a couple contemplating marriage, or engaged to be married, through a basic process of discovery. How is a Christian service and marriage different from other marriages? How do your friends and family (including children) feel about your engagement? Likewise, have the groom tell you the bride’s testimony of her faith. How well do they communicate about spiritual things?
If they are involved physically, communicate clearly the expectation that from here on to the wedding, they must commit to refraining from physical intimacy.
Tell the couple you will check with them at each meeting on how they are doing on their commitment.