We’ll use three major resources for our premarital sessions.
“Pastor Nate helped equip us with strategies for a supportive lifetime partnership and officiated a beautiful ceremony highlighting our love and lifetime commitment.”
– Erika, bride
When it comes to preparing for your marriage, every resource is on the table. That’s right, every resource! Books, seminars, retreats, couples’ counseling, podcasts, and just plain old talking it out – they’re all there for you. Try them out and see what works. For your premarital sessions, we’ll use three major resources as homework and in our time together:
1. Before we meet, you’ll both read The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts.
The ideas behind The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman come up again and again in our relationships. The five love languages – words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch – impact many aspects of our life. You’ll both receive a copy so you can take your time with it and read it before we meet. Consider this book a prerequisite. We won’t take time to an in-depth discussion of it, necessarily, but you’ll be amazed at how often its ideas will keep coming up for you. That means no one is going to check up on you to make sure you do the work… except each other!
Why read this book? You’ll get to know yourself and your partner in the ways that matter the most to each of you. When you learn each other’s languages, you can adapt your approach in order to “speak” to them in the ways that are meaningful.
2. Before we meet, you’ll take the Prepare-Enrich Assessment.
First, this is not a test. Second, you can’t pass or fail. And third, you deserve to know your strengths and know your growth areas so you can grow even stronger. Here’s how Prepare-Enrich Assessment works:
Couples sign up to each take an assessment on their own. They respond to tons of questions, and their responses are compared and calculated with each other to determine where they have the most agreement and disagreement. Then, we meet to explore their strength and growth areas by going over the results and trying some exercises together. Couples get their results processed, assignment sheets, and a workbook they get to keep.
Why take Prepare/Enrich? You’re going to have the opportunity to think about your relationship in ways you’ve maybe never thought about before. It will be powerful to not just have a vibe about your strengths but to own them. And it will be essential not just to wonder if there are parts of your relationship that need to grow, but do the hard work of growing.
3. You’ll do a Genogram together.
There’s a reason they call it our “formative years.”
We are who we are for a variety of reasons, and one of those includes our family of origin. The relationships we had and currently have with the people who surrounded us in our formative years have great influence on the person we are today. When we were young, these people were our primary example of relationships with others and the world. Their attitudes and interactions often get reflected in our own relationships. Sometimes, we are similar to them intentionally, often it’s unintentionally, and other time we’re not like them due to an intentional choice. We’ll take time during one of our sessions to take a deep dive into your family of origin and try to make connections with who you are today.
Why do a genogram? You and your partner will gain new insight into why each of you are who you are. Maybe you’ll end up more patient with each other because now you understand why they act that way. Perhaps you’ll get a new tactic on how to approach them about that tough topic. And maybe you’ll hear family stories that didn’t seem like a big deal that turn out to truly matter and make you want to make an intentional choice to emulate them in your own family. A genogram is a real gift.
“From the start, Nate’s warm and open character made us both feel comfortable and at ease as we began the discussion of our relationship in our pre-marital classes. Though the thought of two hour sessions of premarital education seemed daunting at first, I looked forward to each session.”
– Evan, groom
That’s it, three resources that are simple, meaningful, and fun!
Oh, and paper. We use lots of paper. On clipboards! Bring a pen. Or I have some, too. 🙂