Q: Valentine’s Day, a time for love, but I am worried. I think my boyfriend is going to pop the question and, even though we are in love, we argue about silly things. I have heard of premarital counselling but our church doesn’t have it. Can you help us?
A: If you both love each other, and are interested in working together to make this relationship work, yes I can help you. We learn our views, values, and the way of doing things, from our families. These attitudes are all we have ever known and often we do not realize that there may be other points of view. This is fine until you try to live with someone else. Individually, none of the issues may be important, but together they cause fighting, nagging and unhappiness. The following are six main problem areas:
1. Family of Origin
In other words, the in-laws. How often will we see them? What about Sunday dinner? Will our parents know our private lives, including problems? What about caring for elderly parents?
How often; when; where; who initiates; pornography and what each find to be acceptable practices, are all areas where a couple can run into difficulty.
How many? How soon? Methods of child raising? Will one parent stay home or, if not, who will care for our children? What kind of schooling do we feel is important? What about higher education?
Will we follow any? Who’s church will we go to? How often? How important is it to each of us? What about children and religion? What if our parents do not agree with our decision and try to influence our children differently?
How much do we save? What if one is a spender and the other, a saver? What are our financial priorities—house? holiday? nice clothes? security? Who controls the money? Separate or joint bank accounts? What about debt?
6. House-hold Chores and Roles
Are there men’s and women’s jobs? Who does what and when? What if one parent is home with children? Can we have free time out on our own or will this be a problem?
These are some areas to consider prior to marriage. Perspectives can change in time, but with counselling you have established common ground and learned how to deal with differences.