Premarital Counseling provides each couple with a framework for investing the time, energy, thought and prayer that a commitment of this magnitude calls for. Often in the hustle and bustle of modern life, this energy is absorbed by the practical details of wedding planning, work and other pursuits—and the more important, but less urgent demands of marriage preparation are neglected.
Even couples who know each other quite well before deciding to marry discover that there are certain issues they either haven’t thought of or may even avoid for various reasons. Most couples discover important things about themselves and their partner during the premarital process. Skills are learned that equip them for the challenges of married life. When the process is working well, couples are able to love each other more deeply and effectively.
Premarital counseling helps couples to appreciate the value of talking over issues affecting their marriage with a trusted third party. When challenging issues arise in the course of married life (as they inevitably do) couples who have been through premarital counseling have already crossed the threshold of getting some outside help. They are less likely to try to struggle through issues alone, when help is called for.
We view Christian marriage as a lifelong commitment that requires a vital connection with Christ. Our premarital counseling ministry is designed to help couples discern their readiness for this awesome commitment and equip them for the joys and challenges of married life. Because one out of every two marriages in our society ends in divorce, we require any couple married in the church to first invest in a thoughtful premarital counseling process. The pastoral staff, as ministers of Christ and the church, perform Christian wedding ceremonies—in the presence of God, making vows in the name of Christ; we don’t want to “just go through the motions”. The marriage preparation process is holistic, covering all aspects of a couple’s relationship: practical, emotional, social, and spiritual.
What about premarital sex and/or living together?
We believe that God takes a very high veiw of sexuality–that it is something holy and good, to be shared within the protective context of a committed marriage. Therefore, we recommend that couples refrain from lovemaking and living together before their wedding. Not only is this biblical, but some studies have shown that the risk of divorce is significantly higher among couples who co-habitate before marriage. In certain cases, where children are involved or the couple is already living together, special arrangements are sometimes made (please talk to a pastor).
What about the Church Connection?
Since a meaningful church connection is an important factor in successful marriage, we think it’s best to first find the church that works for you and begin the marriage preparation process in that context. (Most churches take marriage preparation very seriously these days!) When couples with no previous connection with Vineyard inquire about the prospect of getting married at Vineyard, we usually recommend that they first begin attending the worship celebrations to see if the beliefs and values of this church make sense for them. It makes the process more meaningful for all concerned.
We want to help you to have the best marriage possible. In doing this we require that all couples who intend to get married by a Vineyard pastor complete premarital counseling. As our premarital counseling program typically requires at least six sessions, it is recommended that the couple begin the premarital counseling process at least 6 months before the wedding. If you would like a certain pastor to perform your wedding, please speak directly to that pastor to determine their availability.