Q: I have met a wonderful Christian man and we plan to marry. We have both been married before. My children are insisting that we go for premarital counselling. I think we’re both old enough to know what we’re doing. Do you think premarital counselling is necessary for two middleaged people who love each other and just want to get on with life?
A: The short answer to your question is yes. Everyone should have premarital counselling. When we’re in love we’re often unable to see things clearly.
The saying that “Love is blind” is true, more often than not! Marriage is a risky business. Second marriages have a higher rate of failure than first marriages (about 60 per cent) and for this reason it is best to make sure you and your partner are right and ready for each other.
To know if you’re right for each other means talking about the issues that most frequently cause friction in a relationship.
Some of these issues are: finances, children and religion. It’s very important you talk to each other about these and other issues before you commit to marriage.
To know if you’re ready for marriage involves taking stock of your emotional readiness for another relationship. Are there issues that bothered you in your previous marriage? Will they surface again in this new relationship? Do you carry any emotional baggage from the previous relationship? Some studies suggest it takes up to two years to come to terms with the end of a marriage. If you were the person who left the previous marriage, it’s often easier to contemplate another relationship, while if you were the one left behind, it may be more difficult to commit your life to another person. If your spouse died suddenly, it may take longer to even think of remarrying than if they died after a long illness where there was time to say goodbye. Whatever the case, it is good to spend at least 18 months in a relationship before deciding to get married.
Ask yourself: Why do I want to remarry? Is it because I want to spend the rest of my life with my new partner? Is it because I am looking for a father for my children? Do I want to remarry for the sake of being married? These tough questions may help you in thinking clearly.
The purpose of premarital counselling is not to change your mind about getting married to the partner of your choice, although it can happen that people may decide to give the friendship phase of their relationship a bit more time before committing to marriage. The aim is to help both of you in making this very important decision and hopefully to smooth the way into a rewarding and wonderful new stage in your lives.