Last time we asked this question: How do you maintain the proper balance of the normal security and significance needs of the husband and wife after marriage – know what these needs are before getting married?
This statement begs one further question: Suppose you did not get premarital counseling?
More than half the couples coming to us for counseling did not go through premarital counseling. Over the past 30 years this ministry has proven putting married couples through premarital counseling is most productive.
As taught earlier: There is no right way to do the wrong thing. Likewise: It is never too late to learn how to do the right thing.
Following are excerpts from my book, The Tie That Binds: For Those Who Are Dating – For Those Planning Marriage – For Those Who Are Married:
“Genesis, as the book of beginnings, is rich in knowledge, and Chapter 24 is no exception. Abraham had reached old age, and expressed his concern about finding the right wife for his son of promise, Isaac.
“In studying this chapter, we find Abraham’s explicit instructions are laid out for his servant to follow in looking for this suitable wife. This list of instructions given to Abraham’s trusted servant is a list of Bible-based attributes any one should look for in a marriage partner - before or after marriage.
“Thus, the list is worth considering by any couple contemplating marriage, and as noted above, by those who missed this study prior to marriage.
“From the New International Version we read the following from Genesis 24:1-4:
“Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, ‘Put you hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.’
(This author’s commentary): There are at least five note-worthy pieces of information spelling out prerequisites for marriage to be gleaned from these four verses. I neither advocate the first arrangement, nor do I totally discourage following this process.)
1. “Arranged Marriages: Although this is not widely practiced in our culture, it is still practiced in many cultures around the world. So, before passing judgment on this practice too quickly, or too strongly; let us note that sociologist’s statistical records show that even in modern times these marriages have a better track record than those created by many other methods of bringing one man and one woman together in marriage. It is perhaps too early to evaluate the longevity of marriages growing out of social-media dating.
“This concept is not totally foreign to what this study advocates as I covered in Chapter Two under the caption In-laws or Out-laws, wherein men were advised to ask her parents for her hand in marriage. Getting their permission to marry her gives them an opportunity to agree on her choice of a marriage partner even though they did not take part in the selection process.
2. “Nationality: This is perhaps more of an issue in America than in some other parts of the world, however, the Bible says what the Bible says whether we agree or disagree.
“Abraham told his servant very specifically, ‘…that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Cananites.’
(Although I have decided not to perform interracial marriages because of the prohibition as stated in this passage, I have counseled couples that had entered into interracial marriage.
The rationale for counseling them is this, although, in this passage interracial marriages are not supported; God’s Word teaches, in principle, if two people of a different race have chosen to marry, this act does not invalidate marriage. God wants marriage between a man (born a male) and a woman (born a female) to work.
3. “Religion: If there are themes in Scripture regarding marriage, one of them is to marry someone of the same belief. This does not mean that a Baptist should only marry a Baptist or a Methodist a Methodist. The culmination of this teaching is found in II Corinthians 6:14: ‘Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with un-righteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?’
“Paul urges believers not to form binding relationships with nonbelievers because this might weaken their Christian commitment, integrity, or standards. This is further support for my electing not to perform interracial marriages.
4. “Life-dominating Sin: Unfortunately, these may not be evident even in a close dating relationship. Life-dominating sins cause a person to adopt two or more private life styles, which may be very successfully disguised even from the most observant. Consuming beverage alcohol, doing drugs and a fixation with pornography has all been discovered only after marriage.”
In closing this segment, suffice it to say if you are married and are only now discovering life-dominating sins in your spouse, find a Bible-based counselor to get a biblical perspective to your best options for dealing with these critical areas. Divorce may not be your best option.
5. “Social Class: We are not a Cast Society as practiced by some cultures, but even so, the wider the gap in age, education, sophistication, intelligence, personality, language and communication skills, manners, life goals and expectations, the greater the probability the marriage will not produce all it could if these characteristics were more compatible in each marriage partner.
“Remember, it was observed earlier that they say, ‘Opposites attract while also having to acknowledge that one of the leading causes of divorce is incompatibility.
As incompatibility is a leading cause for divorce, next time we’ll look at the Number One reason people come to New Hope for counseling. Communication Breakdown
Rev. Thomas (Tom) C. Lacy, Advisory Board Member of the Virginia Christian Alliance and Founder and Director, of New Hope Counseling Service.