Postponing Love

A couple of 14-carat gold wedding rings. Pictu...

Dear Christian Counselor,

 

I’m looking for the most thorough, rigorous Christian premarital counseling book that you’re aware of. I need recommendations for a Christian couple that’s recklessly rushing towards marriage after spending very little time together. They’re determined to hold their wedding asap, but they’re also very open to premarital counseling and any books we recommend to them. I’m looking for a book that challenges naivete and the fairy tale they’ve spun for themselves about the necessity to get married now, without experiencing each other over time.  Many thanks!

 

Dana

 


 

Dear Dana,

 

This couple is blessed to have such a caring friend, and they may need your friendship more in the months to come if they are rushing into marriage. Before I address your question, I’d like to address your underlying fear. While there is some evidence to indicate that a longer dating relationship gives marriage a better chance of success, it is far from the only factor. The Bible does not presume that a bride and groom even KNOW one another before they marry. It gives them the same advice as it gives couples in longer dating relationships: to love and respect one another (Col. 3:18-19), not to divorce (Matt. 19:1-6) and to work as a team to build God’s Kingdom (Ps. 45). If both spouses love Jesus and are even more committed to Him than they are to each other, that will give them the strength, wisdom and grace they need to create a loving partnership. Other factors, such as their cultural value systems, family support, income and communication styles are also very important, and those are things that should come out in premarital counseling. But be warned: I have tried to talk people into postponing marriage with very little success. Those in love are thinking not primarily with their heads, but with their hearts filtered through Cupid’s chemicals. Give them all your best advice, but in the end, YOU must trust God for His work in their lives – through a happy marriage or an unhappy one.

 

While I know of no resource which deliberately bursts young love’s balloon, there are some books below that I would recommend, in no particular order. I would also recommend that the couple talk with a pastor or counselor who is trained in premarital work, someone who can speak into their lives with compassion and wisdom. May God guide them – and you, too, as you walk alongside them.

 

Thing I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman

(Contains exercises and discussion questions.)

 

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller

(Covers the basics of Christian marriage thoroughly.)

 

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas (A different, deeper perspective on marriage.)

 

Preparing for Marriage by Boehi, et al.

(Contains worksheets on decision-making and relationship evaluation for engaged couples.)

Lady in Waiting

Sad guy holding a bouquet of flowers on a bench in a parkDear Christian Counselor,

I’ve actually just started getting serious about my faith. My boyfriend and I have been dating for 3 years now, no sex involved, and I am not ready, but my boyfriend has been none too discreet with the fact that he’s ready for it. I know I won’t be ready until after we’re married. How do I explain this to my boyfriend, I mean he has been waiting for so long?

Confused


Dear Confused,

This question won’t even matter if you both are not on the same page spiritually. Your common ground, first and foremost, must be your faith in Jesus Christ. Is this man a Christian as you are? If the answer to that is no, then you have a battle with Truth in being unequally yoked (2 Cor. 6:14). If the answer is a resounding yes, then you have Scripture to guide your sexuality (see, for example, 1 Cor. 7:32-36). If this man is a respecter of Jesus and the Word of God then he will wait until marriage for the glory of God and the ultimate good of the relationship.  We follow the commands of Scripture because they are good for us; to disobey or ignore them would bring pain and hardship for you. It is healthy for your relationship to face this head on and see where he stands in regard to Truth. You need to know.

— Karen


Related Articles:

Why Wait for Sex?  Focus on the Family
Worth the Wait Video from a real groom
A Scientific Perspective WebMD

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

imageDear Christian Counselor,

 

I have decided to break up with my boyfriend. We have been dating online for 4 months and have gotten emotionally close. He loves me and wants to marry me, but I do not want to pursue a romantic relationship any further. I want to be as gentle and loving as possible in this process because I know what it’s like to be on the other side. I need help in what to say, what not to say, and how much I should say. Can you help me? Thank you!

 

Agapephilia


Dear Agapephilia,

Your desire to be kind and honest in this situation is admirable. I also commend you for being aware of what you want. No doubt, it is difficult to end a relationship with someone. Your best bet is to go with your inclination to communicate with kindness and honesty. Focus on what you want to let him know. You never have to share more than you feel safe sharing, even if it means repeating what you’ve already said.

 

It might help you to practice with an empty chair or a friend in order to become more confident in communicating your message. Some people like to write down key points or even to script the entire conversation. You could then read that message over the phone to him.

 

With all of this said, he will most likely still feel hurt regardless of how gently you deliver your message. You cannot rescue him from that feeling. You also do not have to apologize for your decision. It might take him some time and the help of friends to grieve and process the end of your relationship.

 

Lastly, decide ahead of time what you want your relationship to be like after you break up. Some will disagree with this, but I recommend making a clean break. That means no communicating or staying friends until both parties have the opportunity to heal and move on. Be mindful of family or friends you can talk to afterward about the breakup. God’s love will be there for you, as well as your ex; neither of you need to walk through this alone.

 

–Jessica