MarriageThere’s a checklist of things to get on one page about before you get hitched: financial, household, personal, and, of course, emotional and spiritual stuff. It’s not just about standing up to take some vows and having 24-hour access to each other. You have to be shored up and prepared for a lifetime together.

Back in the day, it was almost intuitive for married and wannabe married folks to enlist the sole wisdom of their religious leader when their relationship needed guidance, mediation, healing, or rescue from the dismal “D” word. But modern couples would be wise to get the advisement of both a licensed therapist and their pastor, rabbi, imam, or priest to smooth out the bumps in their road to happily ever after.

Prayer is wonderful, but sometimes you need a professional head shrinker to get to the root of your issues.

During the course of a marriage, you become different people and keep growing into who you are — complete with family, bills, and lots o’ stress — and sometimes all of the changes can make just asking your spouse to pass the potatoes at dinner ammunition for an argument. The one-two punch of spiritual and psychological bolsters the couple up on all sides.

On the one hand, they have the guidance of a leader from their faith to keep them in the good graces of their religious doctrines, and on the other, they’ve got somebody to help them iron out the weirdo mental stuff that might drive each other crazy or drive one another away. Spiritual counselors, although they’re experts on what the Bible or the Talmud say, for example, are limited because their training is based solely on the rules and regulations set up by the faith.

But most folks don’t just need the principles of religion — they also need to learn how to problem solve, how to negotiate, how to listen, how to handle anger, how to stay present and focused, how to give and let go. Besides that, relying solely on their beliefs can be dangerously archaic when you weigh them against the needs of a modern-day couple with so much flying at them from every side.

Because I come from the church, I’ve seen the “Jesus is all we need” approach and roundly decided, if I should ever get married, that old-school pastoral counseling isn’t enough for me and mine. In some circles, it’s grossly outdated. And even though spirituality is the lifeblood of real relationship progress and there’s real benefit to talking to a clergy person, making it work takes looking at the two folks in the relationship individually with their own baggage that needs psychological dissection, not a scripture-backed scolding.

Research shows that faith-based relationships are more likely to stay together, but every marriage will have problems and conflict. Couples just have to find what they’re comfortable with and what works for them. Too many folks are getting divorced without doing something to save their marriage: reading a marriage book or doing marriage education or seeing the psychologist or going to the pastor at church. So however they do it — sacred or secular — the end result should be making the loving last.

Did you and your hubby get counseling before your big stroll down the aisle?

 

Image via Tela Chhe/Flickr