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Author Topic: Pre-Marital Counseling  (Read 3214 times) Average Rating: 0
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GabrieltheCelt
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« on: October 30, 2008, 02:18:34 PM »

Brothers, sisters and friends,

 As many of you know, I'm currently facing a difficult decision on how to proceed with my relationship of 2 1/2 years.  Without delving into the details (you're welcome  Cheesy), it's a very serious and difficult road ahead for us.  So...I was hoping to get some input from the married folks in particular, but all input is welcome.  The reason for me bothering you good people with all of this is because, as most of you know, I was once married before.  Back then, I wasn't a Christian.  I feel that had Christ been in our relationship then, things would've been very different.  Now that I am a Christian, and have once again found love, I really want to be as positive as I can that my decision is not only of God, but that I do everything within my power to do it right this time around. 

 So, enough with the mellowdrama...

 For those of you who are married, did you go thru premarital counseling outside of your priests' counseling?  How important would you say such counseling is?  My girlfriend is pretty much against any sort of counseling, primarily because of her culture (she's Romanian).  I'd really like some help as to the benefits so that I can share them with her.

 In Christ,
Gabriel
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« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2008, 02:28:17 PM »

Quote
For those of you who are married, did you go thru premarital counseling outside of your priests' counseling?

We didn't have secular pre-marital counseling, only counseling in the church, so this might not be what you're looking for, but fwiw here's my two cents. I found counseling to be of some benefit in preparing us for marriage, as it made us explore each other in a structured way. Also, a point made during the counseling is that marriage is like a cross sometimes, and this was really driven home so that once the "honeymoon" period wore off, we'd know to expect some bumps. Overall I was glad that we had counseling (though I think it was mandatory anyway). Fwiw, we used the book Preserve Them, O Lord: A Guide for Orthodox Couples in Developing Marital Unity by Fr. John Mack during the counseling, along with a (then) VHS series by Fr. John, and it was an enjoyable experience.

EDIT--Fixed typos that were bugging me!  Oh, and one other thing, the book I'd recommend most highly when it comes to marriage is Women and Men in the Early Church: The Full Views of St. John Chrysostom by David Ford.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2008, 03:27:47 PM by Asteriktos » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2008, 02:39:23 PM »

I wed at 18 (so bear that in mind).  But I have been married for nearly 12 years at this point. (woo-hoo! New years eve will be our wedding 12th anniversary!)

Our premarital counseling was at my husbands childhood Baptist church. The only reason we wed at the baptist church instead of my church was because it was free to use the building. We went to premarital counseling that was completely useless. The "pastor" that was doing it basically just used the sessions to berate me to my (then) fiancee because I am outspoken. My husband is infinetely stubborn, but he is very quiet. Some mistake that for him being "whipped" but the reality is that I couldn't get that man to wipe his nose if he didn't want to.

We dated three years in total. (I was already out of HS when we met). Every year we went thru the Gary Smalley "Hidden keys to loving relationships" video seminar. Friendship is the core of a good marriage. And if you don't have that as a good base the rest will fall apart. And although it is cliche to say it-I will; communication is absolutely ESSENTIAL. If our only premarital counseling had been what we had from the wack pastor we would have been sunk. But because we worked diligently on our own before and after we have made it thus far.

If we had been orthodox I think the counseling would have been quite useful. I have a few orthodox books on marriage and they are amazingly good. What we went thru were lectures and little cartoony videos about "leaving and cleaving."

In short; your marriage isn't doomed if you don't have premarital counseling. But if you have the option I think you should take it. Worst case it is a waste of time, best case it helps you tremendously.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2008, 11:34:30 PM by Quinault » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2008, 03:06:39 PM »

For those of you who are married, did you go thru premarital counseling outside of your priests' counseling?  How important would you say such counseling is?  My girlfriend is pretty much against any sort of counseling, primarily because of her culture (she's Romanian).  I'd really like some help as to the benefits so that I can share them with her.

Our only premarital counseling consisted of our sessions with our priest, and some additional reading we had done on our own.  But I can tell you, from seeing good marriages and awful ones, that going through the counseling with an open mind and a humble heart can help tremendously.  If you want, I can offer some suggestions for books and prayers to say, also.

The one thing you should do to help her open up to the possibility of going to sessions is remind her that it is a safe, comforting, confidential, and focused environment for the two of you - normally objection #1 to attending relationship/pre-marital counseling is the fear of opening up in front of a stranger.  Get her over this kind of fear, and the path will be much easier.
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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2008, 03:28:20 PM »

Brothers, sisters and friends,

 As many of you know, I'm currently facing a difficult decision on how to proceed with my relationship of 2 1/2 years.  Without delving into the details (you're welcome  Cheesy), it's a very serious and difficult road ahead for us.  So...I was hoping to get some input from the married folks in particular, but all input is welcome.  The reason for me bothering you good people with all of this is because, as most of you know, I was once married before.  Back then, I wasn't a Christian.  I feel that had Christ been in our relationship then, things would've been very different.  Now that I am a Christian, and have once again found love, I really want to be as positive as I can that my decision is not only of God, but that I do everything within my power to do it right this time around. 

 So, enough with the mellowdrama...

 For those of you who are married, did you go thru premarital counseling outside of your priests' counseling?  How important would you say such counseling is?  My girlfriend is pretty much against any sort of counseling, primarily because of her culture (she's Romanian).  I'd really like some help as to the benefits so that I can share them with her.

 In Christ,
Gabriel

We went thru some sort of counseling- but it was mostly negative and meant to show us how neither one of us knew the other and basically how after the honeymoon was over we'd really get on each others nerves, the warmth would dry up, and basically all we'd have to go on was a cold duty-bound love to carry out the commitment we made before Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Of course, I believe the pastor who gaves us counsel was describing his own situation (not with those exact words) and the situation of my in laws (whom are great people btw, don't get me wrong). Thus most of our counseling that we took to heart came from my own parents, and other people who had been married some time and actually looked happy about it. Hopefully Orthodox priests are a bit more objective than that.

So 6+ years later (and 5 kids) we still don't hate each other yet- perhaps we're in denial- my Princess is also my best companion. So here's some of my own whipper-snapper advice that we learned, some has been said above.

Talk to each other- but also find out what words mean to each other- me and the mrs have had a coupla tussles because she or myself said something that meant something completely different to the other one.

Accept that it won't always be perfect (in a sense), but refuse to accept that warmth is temporary- and you as the man will be critical in keeping that.

Accept that you might have a scrum- but don't let the sun go down on your anger.

Sometimes she needs to be mad at you- and you don't need to fix that immediately, sure apologize, but allow her some time. Frederica Matthews Greene has a wonderful program on Ancient Faith Radio that deals with this- about 6-8 months ago.

Recognize that God created men and women differently (and I'm not trying to invoke Evangelical Role of the Man/Woman stuff here persay) and those differences are not negative.

Try and make sure you're best friends, be transparent but not crude.

There are many other things to be sure, if you see a happily married couple, especially an older one, ask 'em some advice. Also I'd recommend Emerson Eggrich's Love and Respect series or book- he's not Orthodox, but his message is very applicable.
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« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2008, 06:53:01 PM »

Of course I'm not married Gabriel, but I would think the more counselling one gets, the better (of course this comes from someone who has always wanted to "get it right" when it comes to marriage, and who has already been in counselling  a couple of years with a relationship therapist-and I don't even have a boyfriend). It also shows a certain humility and maturity to be desirous of this. Of course, you are right that counselling is likely more widespread in North America than it is in Eastern Europe (many of my russian baptist friends didn't even believe in dating! They thought even a pure courtship was too sinful, and so the young man would propose-often to an girl he didn't know-and she would have a couple weeks to make up her mind and then a couple weeks later they'd get married. Very often the early months of such marriages were extremely rocky  and nearly ALL needed pastoral counselling within 3 months of marriage).

It would be very nice if the two of you would share a similar mentality about this issue. I hope she will change her mind and realize the benefits of this experience which will surely only bond the two of you more closely together.
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« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2008, 07:50:31 PM »

Not married, but once was, to a Romanian.  Yes, they have an odd perspective on counseling or on just plain good advice.

If nothing else, getting her to go to counseling might show that marriage is not her preconceptions.
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« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2008, 08:51:32 PM »

Thanks everyone for the great replies and insight. 

Cleveland, when you have the time, I'd love to have those prayers and material titles. 

Thanks again, y'all!

Gabriel
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« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2008, 09:51:33 PM »

^Mr. Y and I only did the premarital counseling with Fr. Andrew, but it was very beneficial indeed.  It probably wouldn't hurt to go to a secular counselor, but I would think our priest would know both of you well enough to offer sound advice.  More importantly, his continued counsel would be equally helpful.  Sometimes I think couples think premarital counseling is good enough and then they're supposed to be off and running and successful in marriage.  I'm sure it sounds silly me giving you advice when you've already been married and I've only been so for 1.5 years.  Wink 
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« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2008, 10:06:36 PM »

Quin, if your husband had wanted to date you while you two were merely acquaintances, would you have dated him? I might be okay with going on a date with someone, but I'd prefer to be good friends with them even before we go on a date. What do you think?
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« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2008, 10:32:42 PM »

Quin, if your husband had wanted to date you while you two were merely acquaintances, would you have dated him? I might be okay with going on a date with someone, but I'd prefer to be good friends with them even before we go on a date. What do you think?

We met, fell in love and started dating within a month. Basically from the moment we met we were "dating" we just didn't acknowledge it until a month after we first met.
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« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2008, 11:30:02 PM »

So you fell in love the first moment you met him?? What were you looking for before you met him? Were you looking for someone at all, or were you waiting for it to just happen?
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« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2008, 11:31:49 PM »

So you fell in love the first moment you met him?? What were you looking for before you met him? Were you looking for someone at all, or were you waiting for it to just happen?

I was 15 Smiley At that time I was clean and sober from about a 4-5 year drug and alcohol binge. I figured I would start back up soon and die before I hit 25. And I am sure I would have. He figures he would have also self-destructed in some way if he hadn't met me too. There is no such thing as a "perfect marriage," but we helped "save" each other in many ways.
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« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2008, 11:42:03 PM »

He was living at home trying to break into the music business. I was kicked out of every HS in my region, newly clean and sober and had already gotten pregnant and had a miscarriage. I was broken and so was he. Typically this makes for a baaaaddddd marriage. But we have made it work.

The way we met was funny. His friend was making fun of me being indian, he stood up for me, made a joke about scalping, took my number under the pretext of jamming and called me the next day. I was essentially emancipated and living at home by choice. It was a pretty economically depressed area. And I was contemplating moving out to S. Carolina to live with an ex-boyfriend. My ex was the new guru of the Hari Krishna's (his dad was before he died and his baby brother was killed by being placed in a freezer by some foloowers) and offered to move me out on his dime. My parents wouldn't have known I was gone until it was too late.  If I hadn't met my husband then I would have gone. In fact my ex was finalizing flight arrangements for February.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2008, 11:53:22 PM by Quinault » Logged
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