It is Open Season!

It is premarital season. The Christmas rings have sparkled. Wedding plans are under way. June is just around the corner. Have you, pastor or counselor engaged the engaged for a series of premarital counseling sessions?
If not, you should seek to do so immediately. The statistics confirm my 1960’s intuitive judgment call that premarital counseling would positively impact the divorce rate in America. I chose one example from the many studies conducted in the past ten years. Scott Stanley devised and conducted a survey in 2001 in which he found that the divorce rate was thirty-one percent lower among couples who had participated in premarital counseling (Scott Stanley Journal of Family Psychology March 2006, Vol. 20, No. 1, 117-126).
Again, a variety of studies indicate that regardless of racial origin, income level, religious affiliation, or social class premarital counseling can be effective. As Christian pastors we admittedly take the responsibility of joining two people in matrimony as the agents of Almighty God. If there is anything we can do to support and enhance this union which we publically affirm, it certainly behooves us to do so.
This blog is the outgrowth of my efforts to promote premarital counseling. Upon completion of my doctoral project the book, Three to Get Ready: A Premarital Counseling Manual was published. That was in 1976. Since then it has be revised and expanded on two occasions and has been translated into Spanish. There are other programs available. While I would certainly be pleased to have you utilize the product of my efforts, I am much more concerned that you find the tool that best fits for you. Whatever tool you choose it will take going through the process with several couples to become completely comfortable with the practice.
I have the privilege of training and supervising a staff of very competent Lay Counselors. Each year this staff provides premarital preparation for some 40-50 couples both from our church and the community. It is not uncommon for a couple to decided to postpone their marriage while they continue counseling to resolve personal or family issues. From time-to-time couples agree to disengage and cancel a marriage. Such actions are difficult, painful and frustrating for families as well. However, such action is far better than a divorce.
So, pastors and counselors, tool up! Require premarital counseling as a condition of performing a wedding or recommending to a pastor a couple for marriage. Let’s contribute to the curbing of divorce through this very enjoyable process.

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