The following premarital/marriage curriculum is being posted as promised. Those performing pastoral care are free to use this in any nonprofit or marriage conference setting without charge. The only other stipulation is that I, the creator of this work, be given full credit in any presentation.
Intimacy: A Path to Lasting Marriage
Elder William James Carter, I
This curriculum is designed to present pre-married couples with a godly view of marriage. By doing this a number of issues will be addressed based on the overall theme of intimacy. Intimacy can be presented in a number of forms and many of those forms will be addressed. Among those matters where intimacy is mandated for a successful marriage are communication, sex and finances. The fact is that no marriage ends “happily ever after” as in Cinderella rather there will be difficult times and considerable work. Therefore this curriculum is designed to prepare for the work of marriage with the mindset of preventing marriage failure.
Even with excellent counseling problems will arise in marriages. This is particularly true of the first year. As such follow-up sessions will be scheduled for the newlywed couple. The first session will be six months after the wedding. If the need for additional counseling is needed then sessions will be scheduled as need. The second schedule session will be one year after the wedding where additional sessions will also be scheduled as needed. However if the couple sees the need for counsel prior to scheduled times the couple will be entertained.
Dr. David Kyle Foster. “The Devine Order to Marriage” from The Devine Marriage
Willard F. Harley, Jr. His Needs, Her Needs (Grand Rapids: Revell, 2011)
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott. Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006)
Everett L. Worthington Jr. Hope-Focused Marriage Counseling (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2005)
Chip Ingram “Five Characteristics of Biblical Discipline” in Effective Parenting in a Defective World (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2006)
The below recommend tools are the work of well respected marriage counselors. The works provide Godly advice in respect to many areas of marriage. If taken to heart the newlywed couple can ward of a number of problems. Still problems are inevitable but adherence to the instructions spelled out in the below books will prove to strengthen the marriage. The recommended sources are:
Edwin Louis Cole. Communication, Sex and Money (Southlake, Watercolor Books, 2002)
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott. Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006)
Willard F. Harley, Jr. His Needs, Her Needs (Grand Rapids: Revell, 2011)
Upon completion of the premarital counseling sessions the engaged couple will:
- Have a clear understanding of the history and nature of marriage, and
- Have clear understanding of the significance of a Christ-centered marriage, and
- Have learned basic understanding of how to build marital intimacy, and
- Learn how to effectively communicate and deal with conflict, and
- Gain a clear understanding of the significance of marital sex
- Understand the different needs of males and females
- Understand the reason for a Christ-centered marriage
Week 1 – God’s Design for Marriage
All too often marriage is seen as a contract that can be broken at the whims of ay of the parties concerned. As a result many marriages end in divorce which not only tears apart the parties concerned but the reciprocal impact of divorce knows no bounds. So too does the reciprocal impact of successful marriage know no bounds. The impact on the immediate family and communities serve only to make a stronger church which translates to stronger communities. This is why marriage is held in high esteem at Springs of Refreshing Christian Fellowship (Springs).
While the Springs family is relatively small more at least half the membership is married. Those that are married as well as those that are not married look to its pastor and bishop as an example of what a godly marriage is. Marriage is not taken lightly in Springs because it is taught to be a sacred institution that is a replica of the bond between Christ and the Church. All efforts are made to abate divorce in light of the fact that the destruction of marriage does little to nothing to further the truth of the establishment of marriage.
Unfortunately the State of Maryland and the city of Baltimore do little to build upon marriage. It appears that the government is the very antithesis of marriage. The actual divorce rates in Baltimore are not easily ascertained but it is evident that the family is not among the things that are paramount in the mind of the government. For instance there are several family agencies throughout the city. However in the minds of the powers that be families do not include fathers. It could be argued that such agencies may as well post signs saying “Fathers need not enter” because the programs are geared toward women and children. This is in direct contravention of Scripture.
Genesis chapter two provides an example of what marriage is. The most obvious part of a marriage is that it is a union between one man and one woman. This fact is explicit and immutable. The text shows that from Adam God created a woman. That woman was “rejoined” to the man as his wife. She was to be his help meet while he was to be her cover. The idea of marriage was God’s idea and is not a matter that does well under the guiles of perversions of what God instituted.
Contrary to what some might believe marriage is not man’s idea rather it is a prescription from God to remedy the problem of man being alone. After creation God made it clear that it was “not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). The narrative continues and shows that God puts Adam to sleep and from a rib forms the woman. The woman was created so that Adam would not be alone and so that she could be a help meet to him). From this narrative the first marriage is created along with a key factor in marriage – leaving father and mother. This matter of intimacy will be addressed in week two.
The fact that God made Eve from the side of Adam brings about significance about the very essence of the woman which is a type of the creation of man. God created man in His likeness and image (Genesis 1:26). Eve, having come from man, was made in the image and likeness of Adam. This is to say that she enjoys some of his attributes and characteristics. Yet there are significant differences in the two. Eve was, as it were, made to complete her husband. Her specific characteristics as a woman were to be complimentary of Adam. This is why God sees her as a help meet. The suggestion is that the woman is capable of being an assistant to the man and not that she is inferior to him.
The fact that God provides an assistant for man in his wife is indicative of the fact that God is a God of order. Ephesians chapter five provides an outline of God’s plan for marital harmony and intimacy. Versus twenty-two through twenty-three provides instructions for the woman to submit herself to her husband. Again, this is not to belittle the wife rather it is to set order in the household. Additionally proper order in the house, that the husband being the head of the wife is a direct replica of Christ being the head of the Church. Even so the wife is not to submit merely for the sake of submission but her submission to her husband is pleasing and becoming to the Lord (Ephesians 3:19).
Moreover verse twenty-five admonishes the husband to love their wives in such a fashion as Christ loved the Church. The fact is that Christ loved the Church so much that He gave His life for it. Said differently if a man is not willing to die for his wife then it might do him well not to marry. Further, had Christ had not died the Church would not have been birthed. This is because Christ was willing to give all He had for the church. The same is true of a loving husband. It is not so much that he has to lay aside his physical life but he must lay aside his personal will so that his wife can be birthed. When the wife is fully birthed she will be more apt to honor her husband and submit to him. Her submission serves only to grow her husband much like when the Church submits to Christ it serves only to lift Jesus.
Herein is God’s design for marriage. This design is a marriage that puts God first and relies on the truths of God’s Word. Because God is first the biblical mandates become not just suggestions rather mandates from God. God’s design for marriage is that both partners grow together with Christ in the middle. As the couple grows more toward God then they grow closer together. Thereby the partners grow in certain intimacy; on one hand intimacy with God and on the other intimacy with each other. It is this intimacy that will propel a godly marriage into a lasting relationship.
Week 2 – A Look at Intimacy
Intimacy is the matter of laying bear all. This is that there is complete trust and dedication to the object of affection. This object of affection must first be directed God-ward. Adam was whole before God just as God was to him. It was evident that they communicated on a regular basis. Adam was able to be free before God without shame or concern that God would somehow not be true to him. In this sense God and Adam enjoyed an intimate relationship because of the closeness of the relationship. One suggestion is that God “created woman from the side of man” in part for the intimate fellowship which was a type of the intimacy between Christ and the Church (Foster, Divine Order).
Intimacy has little to do with sex. It has everything to do with the ability to be you in a place away from the peering eyes of criticism. Further intimacy can be displayed in a number of areas the least of which is not the emotions. When one is able to freely express emotions, especially in the confines of marriage, then the relationship is well in the way to be strong and lasting. But intimacy is not a matter that grows on its own. It requires hard work and cultivation. This means that there will be times when both partners in the marriage will have to display some aspects of emotions that will serve only to pull the couple closer together which is the whole of intimacy.
Most men have been taught not to be expressive of their emotions. The idea was that if a man showed emotions then he showed his weaknesses. However this is far from true. The expression of emotions (be they good or bad) can have a most positive impact on marriage. In fact “The emotional side of love’s triangle is intimacy” (Parrott). The very suggestion of laying bear ones emotions is risky yet in the confines of marriage the candor of emotive expressions is well worth the risk because not only does trust grow but so too does the marital intimacy. But the work is not an automatic response to marriage rather there is considerable work involved.
There are a number of ways to build upon the emotional intimacy. The following is taken from Parrott and if properly employed will be a major factor in growing intimacy in the marriage. Moreover it will allow for the absolute trust necessary for emotional intimacy.
- Spend time together – this is not the time to talk about the bills and mundane nuances of marriage rather this time is to be spent enjoying and pleasing each other.
- Listen with a third ear – This is sometimes called “reading between the lines”. Listen to not only the words being spoken but also the heart behind the words. It is also not interrupting when the spouse speaks from the heart.
- Practice unconditional acceptance – No matter what the spouse says or does the love for the spouse is not diminished. This is acceptance of all that is good and what might be perceived as bad.
- Focus on commonalities – No couple will have every interest in common. However there are absolute things that the couple shares interest in. These are the things that the couple should focus on.
- Explore spiritual terrain together – As the couple grows together in secular matters it is important that they grow together spiritually. There is a need for spiritual applications whereby there is common prayer, worship, study and the like. Even more spiritual growth means that Christ is the center of the marriage.
When properly employed the above steps in growing marital intimacy prove to be considerable assets to a marriage. One of the primary assets is that trust is realized and developed. There is no better way to build trust than to build emotional intimacy. This intimacy is a matter of closeness. It means that no one else will be allowed in the sacred place of intimacy. All others will be kept out of the marriage. The bond of trust means that closeness is inevitable. When this is done marital growth is guaranteed. This is another result of strengthening intimacy – growth. This growth is toward each other as well as Christ. It means that there is a dependence on each other that no one else will be able to enjoy. It means that the couple will come to know each other in ways that no others will. Further no others should be allowed in this inner sanctum of marriage. When trust and closeness are in place the growth of the marriage knows no ends.
Week 3 – Intimacy in Communication
A foremost factor in building in marital intimacy is by way of communication. Communication is the expression of ideas from one to another whereby the desired audience receives and understands what is being transmitted. With this communication is seen as “the bedrock of the relationship” (Worthington). With good and honest communication which is not condescending. It means that each partner must be slow to speak and ready to hear what is being communicated (James 1:19). This prescription for good communication lets each partner know that (s)he is important. This importance is reflected in the fact that there is a willingness to let each other speak without fear of being denigrated. Additionally communication is more than what is said it is often what is done or not done.
Worthington borrows from Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages in order to present facts of communication. With this there are five ways spouses can and should communicate. These methods of communication not only send signals of love but strengthen marital intimacy. The five languages are:
- Words – The spoken language expressing gratitude and complementary remarks to each other goes a long way to strengthening intimacy.
- Acts of service – Things done on behalf of each other speaks volumes. The acts of service are innumerable but anything done to help the spouse can only strengthen intimacy.
- Gifts – A simple gift sometimes speaks louder than words. The spouse knows that the other has him or her on their mind and the gift only shows how much the other is loved. It is a cementing factor of intimacy.
- Physical touch or closeness – It is natural for humans to touch and want to be touched. It shows that there is care and concern. This is greatly multiplied in the confines of marriage. Gentle touching, caressing, hand-holding and even kissing are a sure indicator of growing intimacy.
- Quality time – Nothing says “I love you” like the desire to spend time with your spouse. It means there is nothing as important as that time. Quality time says “I love you” and I don’t care who knows. It means that intimacy in the relationship has grown and will continue to grow.
With these communication tools employed there is least one other aspect of communication that is necessary. The communicator must “focus on the qualities you possess as a partner” (Parrott). In other words low self-esteem is no place for a marriage. The individuals must realize who they are within themselves. There are three qualities that the individual must have in order to be a good communicator. Those qualities are:
- Warmth – The ability to overlook what might seem to be faults or imperfections
- Genuineness – Being real in what you say by saying what you mean and meaning what you say (Words spoken represent only 7% of the message while non-verbal communication accounts for 58% and 35% of the communication is in the tone)
- Empathy – Seeing things the way the spouse sees them
With these methods and qualities being intricate in communication the matter of intimacy becomes foremost in the marriage. Clear and honest communication provides the opportunity for both partners to express themselves while the favor is returned. This means that as communication becomes more and more meaningful the couple learns more about the partner. Communication means that each person is laying bear his or her innermost thoughts and feelings knowing that the end result will be intimate growth.
Week 4 – Conflict Resolution
Conflict in life is inevitable. This is because as humans there are different points of view and different agendas that need to be expressed. This is not only true in day-to-day activities outside the family but very true within the family. Further, as a result of man’s fallen nature the wife would become antagonistic toward her husband. This antagonism would be in part because God placed man as the head over the woman (Genesis 3:16). However this does not mean that there cannot be meaning conflict resolution.
Meaningful conflict resolution does not mean that there will be no fights rather it means that there will be fair fighting. In doing fair fighting specific stratagems must be employed. There are also tools for fighting that should not be used. Parrott outlines those “don’t dos” as the following:
- Criticism – Placing blame or accusation
- Contempt – Comments purposefully designed to insult or abuse the partner
- Defensiveness – Shirking responsibility and placing blame on the other
- Stonewalling – Withdrawing from the problem
Even while there are ways not to act in the face of conflict there are also ways to act. The following points are the opposite of the above and present a more reasoned way to handle conflict.
- Don’t run from strife – Stay in the fight. It shows the partner that you care even though you may disagree.
- Choose your battles carefully – Not everything is worth fighting over. Fight only for those things that are important and not for the mundane.
- Define the issue clearly – Don’t argue in muddled waters; say what you mean and mean what you say while being specific in your arguments.
- State you feelings clearly – Spill your heart and hide nothing.
Above all there should be no devaluing of each other. Good clean fighting means that the couple will grow together and likely result in a more intimate relationship. However when value is taken away with negative connotations such as name calling and finger pointing intimacy falls precipitously. Devaluation is the antagonistic antithesis to love and needs to be avoided at all costs. Instead of devaluation the partner needs to be lifted and encouraged. The opposing point of view only serves to strengthen both partners. As value is made the forefront the likelihood of a good, wholesome resolution to the conflict is more clearly made. With this greater respect is created on both ends as the matter of intimacy becomes stronger because the fight presented both the weaknesses and strengths of both partners.
Week 5 – Sexual Intimacy
Just as marriage was not man’s idea neither is marital sex man’s idea. Genesis 1:27-28 provides insight into part of the reason God provide sex. The Scripture shows that the man and woman should be “fruitful and multiply.” The only way this could have happened was if the couple had sex. Today the idea of having sex in order to procreate is attempting to relieve the God ordained sexual union. Even more God created male and female and that was an intentional act of God.
Consider the fact that Eve was created from Adam’s side and when he awoke he saw a creature such as he had never seen before. His first words were indicative of the fact that she came from him and that without her he (Adam) would be incomplete (Genesis 2:23). Furthermore the text (2:25) shows that both were naked indicating that they enjoyed the physical essence of each other. With the physical attraction toward each other God instilled the desire for sex. And while the Genesis account shows that the purpose of marital sex is procreation he also made the actual sex act enjoyable.
Having said this it is important to know that sex is far more than the act itself. It involves a number of components of which a few are listed in this curriculum. In other words if a couple is to have enjoyable sex there must be intimacy. That is there must be communication wherein each partner is respected. Further there must be time spent together outside the mundane activities such as doing the laundry and washing the car. Respect and appreciation must be a part of the fabric of an intimate marriage. The closer and more involved the couple the better chances of a good sexual relationship.
Additionally God intended for sex to be a regular part of the marriage relationship. I Corinthians 7:1-5 clearly shows that sex is not separate from God’s plan. Paul is teaching on proper sexual conduct in marriage and even says in verse three “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.” The narrative goes on to say that neither spouse has control over their respective bodies but the other does. In other words the husband and wife are to enjoy each other in sex not only to procreate but so that other temptation does not interfere in the marriage.
Still Paul does outline in verse five limited instances of when sex should be abstained. Those instances are for a period of agreed time relative to fasting and prayer and that with the consent of both partners. After the time of fasting and prayer the two should “come together again, that Satan, tempt you not for your incontinency.” Herewith it is evident that sex, in marriage as some have described it, is neither nasty nor sinful. The contrary is true. Hebrews 13:4 shows that “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled.” Therefore not only is sex necessary for the propagation of man but it is pleasing man to God in the confines of marriage.
Marital sex provides wonderful consequences for the couple. Among all it is pleasing to God because sex is the idea of God. Additionally sex promotes the human race which is the image of God. Furthermore marital sex promotes unique oneness in the couple. They become closer together because they share something that they will share with no one else- their bodies. Thereby intimacy becomes a perpetual factor in the marriage because of marital sex.
Week 6 – Finances
Among the most troublesome aspects of marriage is the handling (or lack thereof) of the household finances. When the finances are ignored bills may go unpaid or overspending may take place. When this happens undo discord can be created in what otherwise might be a good marriage. When finances are handled improperly the couple falls outside the mandate of Scripture which teaches that in business the Christian is not to be slothful (Romans 12:11). Therefore it is not only prudent to properly handle the household finances but in line with Scripture.
EChristian Finance provides a number of ways that marriages can be successful in their finances. The principles suggested are as follows:
- Develop a budget – With the proper development and implementation of a budget marriage partners can successfully adjust outgoing funds with incoming funds while planning for the future.
- Set long-term goals – Long-term planning such as retirement and home buying require not just proper budgeting but discipline in working toward the goals.
- Share decision making – The marriage is a partnership; finances are no exception. This includes big ticket items as well as issues such as grocery shopping.
- Live on one paycheck – Even though both partners may be presently working that may not always be the case. It is better to become accustomed to living on one check than two. Additionally the second check can be used for savings for future expenditures.
- Create a wish list – Both partners in a marriage will have certain things they desire. A wish list will help develop a budget so that at least some items on the list can be achieved. This list can be changed as the needs and desires of each change.
- Have the spender pay the bills – While this may be an unusual technique if the spender pays the bills then that person will get a first-hand view of what is happening with the money. As a result the spender may learn to become thriftier.
- Set Priorities – The most important things in families may not be the finances. As such if making extra money strains the family it may be a good idea not to make the extras money by working overtime or taking a second job. Further if more money is needed then a change of career may be needed. Either way the couple needs to make first things first.
- Spending Allowances – This principle utilizes the budget to put “pocket money” on the side. It can be used for anything the spender desires without interfering in the day-to-day family budget. There is no reason to keep track of where the money is spent because it has already been budgeted.
- Grow up – Take responsibility and be responsible
- Start Saving – Saving should be incorporated in the budget and be non-negotiable. This will take work and agreement by both partners but is necessary for the future.
The significance of proper financial management cannot be overstated. While it may not do much good in the matter of sexual benefit it can certainly do much to aid in the overall intimacy of the marriage. This is because proper financial management shows that there is care for not only the marriage but those involved in it. Also there will be a great reliever of undue stress as well as ward off unnecessary conflict.
Week 7 – Child Rearing
Among the most troubling parts of a marriage is the matter of children. The problems range from if to have children, when and how many as well as how to discipline them. The attitudes of how to deal with children generally stem from the families of the spouses. However many children were not raised in Christian homes thereby creating a dichotomy in how they should be raised. No matter what methods are employed in the child rearing there should be agreement in how discipline as well as other matters should be carried out.
Chip Ingram relies on Hebrews chapter twelve to present an idea of what godly discipline should look like. In doing this five characteristics of godly discipline are suggested. Those suggestions are:
- The necessity of discipline: to deter destruction (v. 4) – Discipline is all too often see as a negative action taken to correct however proper discipline does not necessarily wait until a wrong has be done rather good discipline teaches the benefits of good as well as bad behavior. The desired result is that the children not turn to the way of destruction rather lean more to what is good and proper.
- The means of discipline: actions and words (v. 5) – The idea here is leadership by example. It is a matter of both teaching and living what is taught. If both words and actions are contrary the child will likely do what he sees rather than what he hears. Additionally there are things that can be done to enforce good and bad behavior. Rewards may be necessary for the one while punishment might be in order for the latter.
- The motive in discipline: to express love (vv. 6-9) – The lack of love means that children will be allowed whatever they choose no matter the consequences. However love means that the parents will need to chasten the child when necessary. Love means that the parents see the children going down the wrong path but the love they have will not allow bad decisions that leave to destruction.
- The goal of discipline: to teach obedience (v. 9) – The short term and long term goals of discipline mean that the children will become more apt to do what is expected of them. This means that they become better students and eventually better employees. Further they will be at a societal advantage because they would have coupled obedience with humility.
- The result of discipline: short-term pain and long-term gain (vv. 10-11) – Discipline is not easy and causes hurt. However the hurt is not lasting but serves to remind the child of the consequences of disobedience and the lack of discipline. In the end the disciplined child not only becomes an attribute to the family but a life of discipline will be the end result.
While these characteristics do not outline the methods of discipline they do present biblical principles of why discipline is a must in child rearing. The methods of discipline are varied and contingent upon a multiplicity of factors to include the child, what was done and any agreement the parents may have decided. Either way agreement in child rearing and discipline will definitely ward off undesired marital conflict, produce God-fearing disciplined children and be another cause of growing marital intimacy.
Week 8 – Recognizing Different Needs
The Genesis narrative of the creation of man and woman clearly shows that there are differences between men and woman. Because of these inherent differences there are obviously different needs. For a marriage to be successful and intimate the needs of both partners must be addressed. Harley presents some compelling differences in the needs of both sexes as he urges that spouses not only heed but embrace the magnificent differences.
The following needs are a partial list of Harley’s observations in the needs of men and women. If husband and wife truly respect each other they will be more than willing to meet the needs of each other. It is the matter of mutual respect that will ultimate send the couple in a whirlwind of romance. First her needs are:
- Affection – There are a number of ways the husband can show affection to his wife. He can touch her, kiss her and call her throughout the day simply to pronounce love to his wife. A number of other things can be done such as helping around the house and buying the “just because” gift. The more affection is wife is shown the more likely she is to meet the sexual needs of the husband. However the affection should not be shown merely as a precursor of sex but should be a lifestyle tool just to show love for the wife.
- Trust – While this is an issue important for both spouses the wife has to know that her husband will be forthright no matter the circumstance. This lets her know that he is there for her and that he trusts her as well.
- Intimate conversation – Many men bemoan the talkative nature of their wives. However women see talking as a means of meeting her emotional needs. Although many men do not need conversation to meet this emotional need it is a must for women. To downplay intimate conversation is to say that what she has to say is insignificant thereby nullifying a necessity.
- Good father – This attribute almost goes without saying yet some men are not good fathers. The husband must be a part of the child’s life not just for the matter of discipline but also for recreational purposes as well as leadership. The husband needs to look to God as an example of what a father should be and employ godly sentiments in his day-to-day interactions with his children.
His needs are:
- Sexual fulfillment – While some men have abused this need it cannot go ignored in marriage. One reason for the need of sex with men is in keeping with God’s mandate to replenish the earth. However when a wife is willing to have sex with her husband it validates him and makes him feel loved. It is not simply a matter of the physical act with the husband but can be equal to the wife’s need for intimate conversation. With this need fulfilled it is unlikely that the husband will ignore the needs of his wife.
- Recreational companionship – For husbands spending time with his wife is also validation of the love his wife has for him. While not all men are given to sports most men do enjoy certain activities. For instance he may enjoy walking or playing board games. If this is the case it would be wise for the wife to find out what her husband enjoys and spend time with him. The result will be intimacy beyond expectation.
- Domestic support – Domestic support can cover a wide variety of things. The bottom line is that the husband needs to know that the wife is there for him. He needs to know that she is there professionally as well as personally. She needs to be his greatest cheerleader not only in words but in various actions that show that he is loved.
- Admiration – With that love comes admiration. Admiration for the husband is tantamount to the need for affection for the wife. It means that the wife has confidence and trust in her husband not merely as a sexual partner but as a husband, father, protector and bread winner. This is another method the wife can employ to show that she loves her husband.
When the needs of both spouses are met there is no end to the benefit. Among the most important benefits is that the opportunity for any outside interference becomes minimized. Mutual respect and admiration becomes evident as levels of intimacy grow. More importantly the children begin to understand what a godly marriage entails. With the positive example before them they will be more apt to be godly spouses thereby perpetuating the wholesomeness of a godly intimate marriage.
Week 9 – Christ Centered
With all that is involved in building a lasting relationship without intimacy the chances of the lasting marriage fall short of reality. Even more the best way to build marital intimacy is for the couple to have Christ as the center of the marriage. With Christ as the center each member seeks to immolate Him and as this happens the couple grows closer together. Even while individual worship is important worship as a couple is just as important. Included in the couples normal practices should be the following:
- Both partners should be Christian – Christians should never marry anyone that is not a Christian. This may well be a strong killer of intimacy because of differing worldviews. For instance if a Christian marries a Muslim there are problems from the onset because Islam is diametrically opposed to Christianity. Further II Corinthians 6:14 warns against the practice.
- Prayer together – Praying together means there is agreement in the marriage. The agreement is not linked to the prayer alone but points to an overall trust in the marriage. In means that the couple is seeking God in their life and look to Him for guidance. Intimacy grows in the spiritual realm with the fringe benefit of growing within the couple.
- Joint Bible studies – When couples study together it means that they listen to each other. It means that their separate motivations are to please each other with the ultimate desire to please God. When Jesus is lifted in Bible study in means there is spiritual growth because in the studies there naturally comes the desire to implement what was learned in their lives.
- Attend the same church/Worship together – Church attendance is fundamental for the Christian (Hebrews 10:25) and more important for the couple. It may be part of what the husband needs in doing things with his wife while a need of the wife may be met as trust is built. Attending the same church shows the world that they love God and that they support each other was well.
- Serve together – Serving together also builds trust and intimacy in the marriage. It means that there are like goals and a willingness to work together in order to achieve those goals. Serving together also keeps the marriage fresh because there is no end to service.
Spiritual growth with Christ as the center has benefits that can be learned only from the experience. Still there are some thing that will obviously be the benefit of a Christ centered marriage. Most importantly God will be pleased as the couple becomes more like Christ. Secondly the couple will grow closer together because of the commonality of spiritual desires and the intimacy level of the marriage will skyrocket.
Week 10 – Review and Questions
The final week of counseling will be used to review what has been discussed over the past couple months. It will also be an opportunity for the pre-married couple to ask any questions they deem necessary. If the need arises for additional sessions the times will be set during the tenth week. Week ten will also be used to discuss the events of the wedding day and any other follow-up that may be necessary. This will be a very open-ended session and perhaps longer than the previous sessions.