A Time For Reflection and Preparation
for the most important step in your life.
Policies and Procedures
Will Your Marriage Succeed?
We are in a cultural crisis in marriage. More than 50% of marriages today end in
divorce, or separation. Many couples in love deny that marital problems can happen
to them. They assume that any differences will fade with time, or will not be important
in the long run, or that they will be able to change the other person after marriage.
This is not true. The harsh reality is that 25% of all couples are separated or divorced
within the first three years of marriage.
The truth is that many Americans spend more time on their hobbies than they do on
their marital relationship. It is easier to get married than to get a driver’s license.
There is less scrutiny over a marriage than there is to buy a car or take out a
mortgage on a house.
It is possible to measure the predictability of marital success. It is possible to prepare
for a marriage that will last. A premarital questionnaire has been developed that can
predict with 80% accuracy which couples will divorce during the first three years of
marriage. There are four areas that predict early marital problems. They are:
♦ Personality issues, such as concerns about the future spouse’s drinking,
messiness, jealousy, unreliability or dependency
♦ Communication issues, such as frequent put-downs, name-calling, excessive
complaining, or inability to share feelings
♦ Conflict resolution problems, such as fear of conflict, forgiveness, arguments over
minor things or arguments that never seem to be resolved
♦ Unrealistic expectations about marriage, such as not realizing that most couples
do have problems in their relationship or that marriage will not make those
Are you ready for marriage? Are you and your fiancée compatible? If you dare, you
can find out through intensive premarital counseling and preparation.
Marriage is a sacred institution created and blessed by God. It is not to be entered
into hastily or unadvisedly, but prayerfully and with thought and preparation. For this
reason the ministers at the Grove City Alliance Church require premarital counseling
prior to committing themselves to performing any wedding. Normally this should be
done at least six months prior to the wedding.
In some cases, usually because of distance, arrangements can be made for another
minister to do the premarital counseling in consultation with the officiating minister.
Each minister has his own style of counseling and requirements may vary from
minister to minister. The minister will ask for the couple to come in for an initial
interview at which time he will explain his premarital counseling requirements.
Policies and Procedures
In the age in which we live marriage-divorce-remarriage seem to be as common as
the cold or the flu. Families across America are broken, battered, and bruised beyond
recognition. Dysfunctional people create dysfunctional marriages that produce
dysfunctional families, whose children are dysfunctional and eventually marry
dysfunctional partners, who produce dysfunctional children, and the cycle goes on
and on getting worse each passing generation.
The biblical view of the permanence of marriage is rapidly disappearing from our
culture. God’s only involvement in the marriage ritual often seems only to be that it
takes place in a church. Vows that are made before Him are hastily uttered as
traditional “wedding vows” but have no more meaning or thought than saying the
pledge of allegiance. Is it any wonder marriage has become a disposable union?
Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, separation, or abandonment, and that
does not include statistics on those who never marry choosing rather to live together
on a trial basis.
You have asked for a church wedding. You could have chosen to elope. You could
have gone to a justice of the peace, or to a Las Vegas wedding chapel. You could
have decided to live together without getting married. You have done the right thing.
You are seeking to start your life together with God’s blessing and continued help.
You are asking for God’s blessing and approval. The Bible is God’s Word. It is the
owner’s manual for life and marriage, as well as God’s blueprint for eternal salvation.
God has instituted marriage. He has set up certain rules, principles, and guidelines
for building a successful marriage and home that will last a lifetime.
You have asked your pastor to marry you. As pastor, I serve as God’s
representative in your wedding. It is my solemn duty and privilege to counsel, warn,
instruct, and encourage you through God’s Word toward a wholesome God-honoring
We require premarital counseling. These counseling times are important. It is your
last opportunity to reevaluate God’s will in this matter. It is the last chance to discern
whether you are making the right decision with the right person. You will need to
weigh carefully the evidence of whether you are compatible, and whether your
personalities and backgrounds will clash. Finally, you each need to look realistically
at your differences, and your weaknesses that will affect your marriage in dramatic
Your pastor’s role is to be a facilitator. He will help you see each other in the
bright light of reality, rather than the warm glow of romantic love. Believe it or not,
100% of the couples getting married believe they are in love and that their marriage
will work – only half ever do!
Your pastor’s role is to help open your eyes to the realities, personalities and
potential problems that lurk on your marital horizon. Ultimately, I will give you an
objective evaluation of your potential compatibility, your areas of concern and conflict,
and recommend your readiness for marriage.
The pastor reserves the right to decline to marry you should there be overwhelming
evidence of incompatibility. In most cases however, the couple makes their own
decision in this matter. Some are ready and proceed as planned; others take caution
and wait, and a few resolve that it is not wise to marry this person at this time.
Be assured that my prayer during this time is for your joy and lifelong happiness
Premarital Counseling Schedule
Premarital counseling will involve regular face-to-face meetings with the officiating
pastor and/or marriage mentor, to determine personalities and compatibilities. Each
couple is asked to to purchase the book and workbook, Saving Your Marriage Before
It Starts by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott.
This is an excellent premarital orientation that the couple is to read (we also have the
book on audio CDs) and respond to by using the workbook. As a couple you will be
expected to be faithful in reading (or listening) and then responding in your
workbooks weekly for assigned weeks.
In some cases, each couple will be assigned to an approved marriage mentoring
couple who will meet with them for one hour weekly to review their workbook
responses and coach them. They will report back to the officiating pastor when the
book and workbooks are complete.
In the last session with the pastor, you will review your material, answer a few final
challenging questions, and receive final approval of the marriage.
The goal of premarital counseling is…
1) To listen to each other respond to questions regarding your family backgrounds
2) To hear your partner’s unbiased opinion on important family values, roles, and
3) To see how your partner is skilled in expressing love, communicating and
4) To observe how and what would be your partner’s reaction to certain scenarios
a year after you are married.
5) To ask your partner questions that might arise as a result of these sessions.
The hour with your pastor or marriage mentor is only to be a catalyst to your private
discussions during the week. It is, and should be, the most important and precious
investment you will make in your marriage. It may prevent painful hours of marriage
counseling later. If you do not have the time, nor patience to work on your
relationship now, – don’t fool yourselves – you will not have time for it later either.
Book: Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, $12.00 at CBD
Workbooks: One for a man, one for a woman, $6.99 each at CBD ($14.00)
Audio CDs of Book: We can loan you copies free of charge
DVD – Seven-part Series: Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts (we can loan it)
Links: Real Relationship/ Saving Your Marriage – http://www.realrelationships.com/
Relationship and Personality Assessment:
Free E-Harmony Lab Online http://www.realrelationships1.com/symwelrev3.php
Initial Pastoral Meeting
Each officiating pastor being requested to perform a wedding will meet with the
couple for a preliminary exploratory meeting. At that meeting the pastor will explain
the wedding policies and procedures of our church including the requirements of
premarital counseling, and give the couple written copies of 1) The Premarital
Counseling 2) The Wedding Manual 3) The Wedding Application.
Some preliminary questions may be asked by the minister in this interview such as,
but not limited to…
• Why do you want to get married?
• How do you know this person is the right one, and the only one for you?
• When did you meet?
• How long have you known each other?
• When did you “fall in love?”
• What does that mean? Have you ever been “in love” before?
• Engaged or married before? Are either of you divorced?
• If so, explain how and why that ended.
• Do you believe marriage is for life?
• Do you believe in divorce as a way to solve marital conflict?
• Have you ever been married before?
• What happened to dissolve that marriage?
Private Questions (to discuss privately with each other, not with the pastor)
These are questions the couple needs to discuss privately out of the presence of the
Are both of you virgins? Will your wife or husband be the first to sleep with?
Are the two of you sexually involved with each other now?
Have either of you ever been sexually molested, abused, or exploited? Explain the
event(s) to your fiancée.
Female: Have you ever had an abortion? Explain it to your fiancée.
Male: Have you ever fathered a child out of wedlock? Explain it to your fiancée.
Do either of you have, or have you ever had a sexually transmitted disease? Explain.
Do either of you have any secrets about yourself that you should share before getting
CLOSING THOUGHT: "They were naked and unashamed.” – Genesis 2:25
This is not a test. There is no pass or fail. There is no key to right and wrong
answers. There is no key that shows psychological or personality disorders.
This is, simply put, an instrument, a tool, in the process of evaluating your personality
style and ability to communicate honestly, with integrity, and without withholding
issues. It serves not to “pigeon hole” you into a type of person, but serves the
facilitator in understanding hints to what might be issues that need to be discussed at
length. This personality profile should be filled out online at Saving your Marriage
Before It Starts web site, www.realrealationships.com prior to the first counseling
session. Results of this evaluation should be brought to the first counseling session.
Free E-Harmony Lab Online http://www.realrelationships1.com/symwelrev3.php