Little known fact - Nate and I didn't have premarital counseling. I know! Shocking! No, we're not at all against premarital counseling and we're SO excited to someday be able to counsel other couples who are preparing for marriage (you know, since that's a pastoring couple's job, of course!)
Honestly, there was no one specific reason we didn't do premarital counseling. It was kind of a million little reasons that just made it work out that way. For one, the pastor who was marrying us doesn't do premarital counseling. We didn't really want to go find a pastor who didn't know us to counsel us and we didn't really have money to pay for that either. Besides that, we were being mentored by an awesome couple from our church (one of the elders and his wife) and they didn't really think it was all that important either. They said that the only thing they remembered one thing about their premarital counseling (admittedly many years before). They were told that when you're first married you have tri-weekly sex, when you're older with kids you try weekly to have sex, and when you're truly old you try weakly to have sex. Words of wisdom. ;-) Beyond all that, the semester Nate and I were dating (our last semester of college) I was taking a marriage and family class. Because of that class, Nate and I talked about so many different aspect of marriage, parenting, and our family of origin dynamics long before we decided to get married. I had to do a report on different types of birth control and the positives and negatives of each so we had decided (if we got married) what we were going to use months before we got engaged.
My favorite thing we did to prepare ourselves for marriage, though, was read together. There were two books that were recommended to us by some friends so we picked them up and they were fabulous!!! They both brought so many great discussions and really helped us process marriage before and after our wedding.
1. Sheet Music: Yes, my first recommendation is a book about sex! Woohoo! An in depth book on sex written by a Christian? You don't see many of those. It really is a bummer that Christians aren't very willing to talk about sex. (But that's a whole different topic) Honestly, it was a VERY in depth book. At the beginning the author even suggests to not read past chapter 4 if you're not married. How wise that was. I don't think Nate and I would have done a good job remaining un-sexually active had we read through some of the later chapters together before we were married. (I mean, honestly, it was hard enough to keep ourselves off each other as it was... Yeah, I know, TMI) The first chapters (which we did read before we were married) really opened up communication about sex that we probably wouldn't have otherwise had. We were able to discuss our expectations and learn so much more about each other in the process. The majority of rest of the book was read on our honeymoon (Mainly on the drive to and from Leavenworth. There's not much else you can do in the car...) and, honestly, it was SUCH a relief. Yeah, our honeymoon wasn't AT ALL what we expected in that regard... if you know what I mean. It was wonderful to be able to read that what we were dealing with was NORMAL! I highly recommend this book as honeymoon literature for any couple getting married soon (or who's been married for a while. Honestly, I still flip through it sometimes and get a lot out of it). *Disclaimer: I appreciate the book but definitely recommend you take a few of the author's thoughts with a grain of salt. Everyone's sexuality is between them, their spouse, and God. You do what's right in your own marriage and keep your focus on honoring the Lord.
2. When Sinners Say "I Do": FABULOUS BOOK!!!!! This book put marriage in such an amazing, wonderful, Godly perspective. It was fabulous for us as an idealistic, in-love, nothing can break us, soon to be married couple. The premise of the book is that each of us marries a sinner. Seems obvious, right? Well, reading this book really made both Nate and I realize that we really hadn't gotten it. We were marrying people who would NOT satisfy us! Sure, we're in love. Sure, we are going to do all we can for one another. Sure, we have each other's best interest in mind most of the time. The book reminds us all about GRACE! The one key aspect in our relationship with the Lord and, honestly, the one key aspect in our relationships with one another. Nate and I were encouraged to talk about conflict, forgiveness, ways we feel loved, and so may other things by reading this book. It was fabulous to start out our marriage firmly linked to the truth that we need to keep the Lord as the center of our marriage. This book isn't only for newlyweds or engaged couples, though. This book addresses both couples who are doing wonderfully in their marriage and couples who are on the brink of divorce. Writing this post is making me want to go read the book again, in fact.
What are some of your favorite marriage books and what makes you love them?