It’s wedding season. Thousands of couples are planning, crunching numbers and doing everything they can to make their day perfect. In the midst of cake tastings, flower arrangements and fittings, it can be easy to forget that the wedding day is the gate to a life of marriage. Couples often go into marriage unprepared for what waits for them after “I do”.
However, pastors can play a fundamental role in helping engaged couples do their best to prepare for marriage. They can help couples identify the good and challenging things that lay on the path ahead. Here are seven ways pastors can help shepherd couples along their engagement and into marriage.
1.Talk about how to put Jesus first.
Ecclesiastes says that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. Helping couples make Jesus the center of their engagement and subsequently their marriage fosters unity and dependence on the Lord. Also remind each one about the necessity to pursue the Lord as individuals. A strong relationship with the Lord independently will strengthen their marriage and carry them through the tough times. Encourage them to get discipled in a small group.
2. Be Honest.
Marriage is beautiful and wonderful and a lot of hard work. Don’t be afraid to talk about the wonders as well as the hard things. Share your own experience with your marriage ups and downs. If you’re comfortable, talk about how you and your spouse have resolved conflict and celebrated beautiful things together. Your honesty will hopefully encourage the couple to also be honest about what they’re anticipating and struggling with as they approach the wedding day.
As you meet with couples, take care to listen to what both the man and the woman expressing. Help them work through conflict. Repeat what they’re saying back to them and facilitate conversation. Teach them the value of listening to each other and how to hear what the other is saying.
4. Talk about sex and intimacy.
Sex can be a difficult topic depending on the backgrounds people bring to the table. Help couples walk through this time of setting themselves apart physically until they’re married.Don’t be afraid to talk about what healthy sexuality looks like during engagement and after the wedding. Let them know the desire they feel is not a bad thing. Wanting that physical intimacy is necessary and healthy to have. But they are things that should be saved for after they’re married.
5. Set them up with a mentor couple in your church.
Often, couples are looking for ways to connect at church. By setting them up with an older married couple in your congregation, you not only offer them helpful guidance. You also give them a way to stay involved at church. Mentor couples can help young engaged and married couples walk through the ups and downs of building a life together.
6. Talk about money.
Finances are typically the number one reason people get divorced. Couples often have differing opinions about who will keep track of the books, who spends what and how to save. Talk couples through their spending and saving styles. Help them figure out how to budget. Teach them how to have conversations about money throughout their engagement and marriage. It is one of the best ways to help them begin their life together.
7. Let them know you’re there for them.
No matter what happens, as couples become husband and wife, a support network is always necessary. There will be fights and struggles. In-laws might be an issue. Or they might struggle to have children. Maybe they want to become leaders in your church or decide to adopt. Knowing they have someone like their pastor or a mentor couple they can talk to as they walk on the journey of marriage can often help alleviate the feeling of being alone.
What are other things that engaged couples need? Comment below with a piece of advice you offer to couples who are getting married.