[Guest Post] Why I’m a proponent of pre-marital counseling.

Guest blogger
JQ Tomanek!

Why am I proponent of pre-marital counseling? Oh, wait. I thought the question was “Why am I a proponent of pre-martial counseling?”

I have two young kids in martial arts and I recommend parents get pre-martial counseling to deal with the stresses of high kicks to the face and low punches below the belt. However, since I am here already, let me give why I’m a proponent of pre-MARITAL counseling a whirl. First, a story.

I was born in the late seventies. I was never taught how to shave by my father. I remember seeing movies with a father and son having a great bonding experience through the use of a straight razor or a safety razor. Technology has since pretty much solved the problem of the danger of shaving and that rite of passage is no longer needed. It became all too simple: 1) Lather with shaving cream from a can; 2) Take out the Gillette SensorExcel; 3) Pull and rip the hair off your face.

Oh, the memories. Back then, that was “Gillette, the best a man can get.” No, really. Watch:

No father chat. No straight razor skill needed. No knowledge of honing, stropping, pre-post creams,
or post shower shaving. Now fast forward to the present day. I am 34 years old, married for 11 years,
three kids, a cat and a dog. I drive a truck, have guns, and now am teaching myself how to use a Merkur
Futur. That is a safety razor, for those still in the cave of the Mach whatever it is. I am watching videos
on YouTube, getting advice on Facebook, emailing friends and chatting with men about how to use a
single razor like an artist. This time next year, my goal is to be using a straight razor. It is hard to get more masculine than putting a surgical sharp knife on your face and shaving your whiskers. This process will require even more communication between hand and brain with the use of my fine motor skills.

What is the connection with pre-marital counseling? Well the qualities required of the art of shaving with a straight razor are similar to qualities required of committed relationships – relationships like those of engaged couples and married people. Relationships take practice, skills, technique, communication and knowledge of self and others to create success. For some, this can be accomplished on your own. Everybody knows the guy that can train, research, and sculpt his body without the help of a trainer. For the rest of us, a proper coach is needed.

If I had tried the safety razor technique without advice, I would look like I ran into Freddie Krueger after someone told him I had eaten his last Oreo.

Marriage is something loftier than a straight shave or sport. It is the mutual self-gift of each other to
another person with each other’s happiness on the line. No pressure, you are only married “until death
do you part” and you will likely teach your children every bad habit you have.

But what should a couple or a person talk about with a counselor regarding marriage? Why is counsel
needed? Here is a list of 8 reasons a trusted counselor is good for the pre-marital relationship. I
have made it easy to remember with this clever acronym: FLATULNT.

1. Finances. Who will take care of them? Two accounts or one? Spending habits that need to be ironed out. Saving for retirement needs. How much debt will you enter into with a marriage?

2. Love languages. How do you explain to your future spouse what your primary love language is? How do you find out your spouse’s language? What are some ways to express this language?

3. Articles of Faith. This one is way more important than most think. Even if both of you are not religious when you are engaged, this can be a problem. What is to happen if one spouse has a conversion and changes somewhat? Couples without faith will have to understand that God is not part of the marriage and someone or something will replace God. If each couple practices a different faith then there needs to be a lot of discussion on how to raise kids, going to church, etc.

4. You also marry the Tribe. When you get married, you marry your spouse and enter into his or her relationships. This includes her parents, godparents, siblings, uncles and aunts, friends, and Confirmation sponsor. Sometimes these people can bring great joy and sometimes they can bring great thorns to your side.

5. Unitary problems. It is best to get these taken care of before you compound the situation with learning another person in such an intimate way. I don’t just mean drug problems or abuse. Some problems can stem from childhood and need to be dealt with so that your spouse does not become to whipping bag even if you do not desire her to be.

6. Love-makin’. That’s right. Sex. In earlier days, it was pretty much standard that a couple could learn this together in the confines and protection of the marital vows. Today, many people are addicted to pornography, have been abused, or received some generic idea of sex from a program manual. If your idea of sex is based on porn, please find a good counselor to lose this baggage. Abuse strikes at the core of a person and so will likely affect your most intimate actions including your sexuality. Many sex education programs tout the benefits of contraception and safe sex but the human person is created for greatness through being free, faithful, total and fruitful.

7. Newlywed. Marital counselors deal with broken couples all the time. They see what problems married people encounter. They can prepare a couple to miss some of the common pitfalls like “Who will make the coffee everyday?” or “How clean to leave a bedroom?”

8. Teamwork. When you get hitched, you are made into a team of one. Every team uses common skills to create success. Communication, integration, honesty, assuming the best of someone, and many others are very important in business teams and even more important in the marital team. As kids come a long, there begins two teams. There is the husband/wife team that needs care and the family team that has different needs.

Each of these listed are good reasons that pre-marital counseling is a good option in today’s world.
I am sure there are married couples that read Arleen’s blog as well. Are there other reasons you
might add? Are there any pre-married couples that would like to give some testimony on some
good things you have learned?

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About the blogger: J.Q. Tomanek lives in the country of Texas with his wife Denise, a Southern Belle from Trinidad and Tobago, and his three children. He holds two graduate degrees from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, an MBA and Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Having taught for five years in Catholic education, he now works in the construction industry in Victoria, TX. He is a parishioner of Holy Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus Parish in the Diocese of Victoria. Click here to read his column at Ignitum Today.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • This is such a fantastic set of guidelines, JQ! I’ll admit, I had to read the acronym twice to make sure I was reading the right word =)

    I’d add developing a way to fight fairly and honestly to this list. Before I met my husband, I was usually afraid to fight with guys I dated because I’d rather have avoided a conflict than make waves that could escalate into something bigger. My husband is so honest, though, and always likes to bring issues to light right away, rather than let them simmer and poison the relationship. It’s changed me in such a good way–I think I’ve come to realize that there really is nothing wrong with the occasional disagreement, even an angry one, as long as both of us are willing to be vulnerable when sharing our concerns, humble in hearing the other’s view, and focused on bringing about the best outcome for the two of us, not on being right. Thanks for posting this!

  • Stephanie,

    Thanks for the kind words. Who can forget “FLATULNT”? 😉

    Fighting fairly is a great recommendation. Trusting in the vows helps me remember to be honest with my feelings and desires. I don’t have to fear a split because of being honest. A “We are in this together for life” attitude gives us plenty of chances and time to make our marriage exactly what we want. Notice, this is not a given positive thing. It takes work; so if we care for the relationships then we will try our hardest to “Captiv(ate) the Heart” and make each other happy.

    Have a great weekend!

  • Good points Jared. So many people discount counseling, especially premarital counseling. There are so many who don’t know . . . what they don’t know. It’s like going to the dictionary to look up a word, but you have no clue what the first letter is. I’m not an expert on marriage because I’ve never had a wife. But I’d probably say #4 is the most important and often overlooked. You never really just marry the individual, but indeed the whole tribe. I think it’s taken my mom and dad their entire 54 years of marriage to get to know each others family.

  • It is optional to have a pre-marital counseling but I guess it is better to conduct a pre-marital counseling to those who are ready and soon to get married to understand what would it be to become a committed one. There are some relationship counselor that offers counseling marriage so it is better to seek advice first and attend the counseling.