Rule # 1

Pre-marital counseling is a challenge. If return could be guaranteed, the couple most often would benefit by having counseling conversations 1-3 years after the ceremony. Before the hard-clad decision to marry this specific candidate, couples should talk through:

  1. What generally triggers anger. The way they express anger. How they fight. How they get over it, come back together, and say I’m sorry.
  2. What is their relationship with money? Expectations about goals, budgets, bookkeeping debt.
  3. Some examples each has of their model of marriage. What does each not like about their parent’s marriage? Their favorite part of Mom and Dad’s marriage?
  4. Sexual expectations.
  5. Role and expressions of faith.
  6. Who gets custody of the dog if you split?

That is not an exhaustive list, even if possible and the right questions. Some “pastoral counselors” lean heavy on topics we need to think through and/or carry heavy scars.

One year after the covenant is “signed” a couple might write down: “What we should have talked about!”

After my wife came home from the hospital recently, I was especially sensitive to Carole’s needs and really glad she had come home. A short time later, I heard her say she knew we were getting back to normal because I was getting irritated with her. (Only because she wouldn’t help me rake the leaves!)

When a friend asked for “wisdom” about marriage, the # 1 relationship rule for couples that repeatedly came to mind as most helpful is from Romans 12:10 NIV:

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Honor her! Honor him! Always. In every situation.

Honoring requires faithfulness, fidelity, cover his/her back, speaking kindly and have your partner’s best interests at the forefront of your intention. Honoring means to keep your mate’s personal development, mission, goals, dreams, ambitions with covenant strength. Never make fun of or diminish in public. Unless you have a death wish.

All of this assumes each of us knows what honoring means. It requires knowing your love’s heart well enough to know how he/she feels honored. That is a good question to ask. “What can I do to express my honor for you in___________” (name a specific).

God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to “keep” it. The traditional wedding ceremony includes the question, “Will you keep…?”

“To keep” means “to protect, to preserve.”

How do you intend to “keep” the person to whom you have given your heart? How will you protect your own heart if the “honoring” gets to be manipulative or destructive? Protecting and preserving are promises to build on.

Honoring one another is a Kingdom rule for all relationships.

Honor one another.

D. Dean Benton

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