Sunday, April 29, 2012

Home and Household: Thoughts on Pre-Marital Counseling

I will be conducting my first marriage service on the 30th of June and have, as a result, been conducting my first pre-martial counselling sessions. I've found it helpful (and fun) to put together, and I think (hope!) the couple has as well. As every minister's pre-marital counseling is a work in progress, I wanted to put out the outline of the course and get feedback from anyone who was interested in commenting.

The sessions have revolved around the distinction between "Home" and "Household."

"Home" references the relationship side of the equation. "Home is where the heart is," after all. These are many of the soft skills of being together, of living as adults together, of figuring out how to love one another even when you're tired and cranky.

"Household," on the other hand, references all the business-like decisions that have to be made to keep the organization of a home running smoothly. Chores. Money. Meetings. You name it.

Not making this distinction can cause a lot of problems. It's amazing how quickly something like neglecting to take out the trash (a household issue) can turn into an emotional and hurtful fight (a home issue around communication). If we can manage the household well, it takes a lot of pressure off the home life of a couple. And if a couple develops skills in mending their relationship and keeping it passionate and engaging in the first place, all the better.

So, the list of things covered in this first go at pre-marital counseling looked something like this (though not in this order):
  1. What is Marriage, Really?
    1. The biblical portraits of marriage in Genesis 1-3 and Ephesians
    2. An introduction to the home/household distinction
  1. Home - Communication basics, drawing from Crucial Conversations
  2. Household - Household basics - who's responsible for what?
  3. Home - Love Languages, drawing from The Five Love Languages
  4. Household - Money - a la Dave Ramsey
  5. Home - Holding one another accountable, drawing from Crucial Confrontations
  6. Household - Moving Forward Together as a Partnership in the Gospel, drawing from The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family

What do you think? Is there anything missing? What other skills might you cover?

*Picture by Kriss Szkurlatowski


Hannah said...

I read this post with interest. I think you've put together a nice curriculum. The pastor who married us gave us the book 'Saving your marriage before it starts,' + his/hers workbooks, which we haven't yet finished. It has a chapter on sex, though you could put that in one of the categories above, too.

Derwyn said...

I like your Home and Household distinction. It's similar to an approach Wanda and I use.

Before we got married, we had grown tired of hearing about the usual causes of marital discord: where you squeeze the toothpaste tube, which way the toilet paper roll is supposed to go, whether laundry goes on the floor or in a hamper, etc. We realized that these things are not so much husband/wife issues, but things that humans sharing the same space have to deal with--roommate issues, as it were.

So, in our first couple years of marriage, we made it a practice to refer to each other as "roomie" before bringing up an observation or complaint in these kinds of areas. That label immediately categorized the issue as one that did not have to be a stressor in our marriage, but simply had to be handled in a pragmatic, administrative way.

Unknown said...

Hannah and Derwyn,

Thanks for the great comments. It's nice to know that the home/household distinction resonates, and I think you're right that sex could be its own topic or slotted in (perhaps into Love Languages).

Thanks again!


counsellor Perth said...

lovely i enjoyed it. my partner have a habit which is a turn off , when am have having conversations with him sharing some good idea with him or talking about the relationship, is like he stop listen and his mind gone in space, or should i say wonder away and then he will say he didn’t hear what i have said. am i being touchy?

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