Five major principles of pre-marital counseling
Five major principles of pre-marital counseling
Origin of Marriage
Marriage has had many definitions over time many of them criticized and raising much controversy. Marriage however is generally a social union or a contract that comes about between two or more people. The union creates kinship and is usually an interpersonal relationship. The relationship is usually sexual and intimate. In different cultures, the relationships are acknowledged in different ways and often they are formalized through a wedding ceremony. There are usually many reasons that people have for getting married some of them including legal, emotional, social and economic just to name a few. The institution creates obligations to people in some societies and it can be dissolved through the process of a divorce or the annulment.
The marriage institution dates back before any recorded history and many cultures have had legends concerning the origin of the institution. One of such theories includes the need that arose for a man to be sure of the paternity of his children. Therefore, men were willing to pay a bride price or provide everything a woman wanted in exchange for the various benefits that came with marriage. The institution is believed to have come into existence more than four thousand years ago. However, most families generally consisted of about forty people. These were composed of several male leaders, several women who were shared and the children that were born out of this. This changed over time as hunters and gatherers slowly became more agrarian and required to have more stable institutions (Wilcoxon, Gladding, Remley & Huber, 2007).
The first case of a one-man one-woman marriage is believed to date back to about 2350 B.C. This was in Mesopotamia. From here, the idea spread out to other communities like the Hebrews, Romans and the Greeks. Marriage however had little to do with religion or love back then. The sole purpose of marriage in that time was to create a bond between men and women and, as mentioned earlier, ensure that children biologically belonged to the man as his heirs. Then, the woman was the man’s property. For instance, in Greece a father would state that he was giving his daughter out for making legitimate children. Polygamy was legal among the Hebrews and among the Romans and Greeks, married men were allowed to satisfy their sexual urges with prostitutes and concubines while the wives were to stay home and look after the home. Barren women were mostly left and the man looked for another woman.
Religion became relevant in marriages gradually as the Roman Catholic Church increased its hold in Europe. The participation of a priest in the institution, usually through a blessing, became significant if the participants wanted the marriage to be recognized legally. As at the ninth century marriage had become widely accepted and practiced and was viewed as a sacrament before God and in some communities it was made law. The church greatly changed the nature of marriage as respect for the woman was emphasized and divorce was banned. Faithfulness was also emphasized on as the two were named one flesh and therefore exclusive access to each other and their bodies was granted. Men however remained the heads of the families and wives were to remain obedient of them (Markle, 2010).
Love is believed to have entered the marriage institution in the middle ages. This is because previously couples entered into the institution due to reasons of practicality and convenience and love and devotion were felt after. The idea that people would fall in love then get married due to it then came. Love indeed changed marriage as women got a greater advantage in the relationship and their existence to serve only men ceased. However, the husband’s ownership of the wife still existed and the wife was supposed to surrender her name to for that of her husband. In some communities, the rules were so strict that women who married foreigners instantly lost their citizenships. Marriage has transformed over the last half century than it has in the last 5000 years since its inception. Many laws that made the institution intolerable and oppressive, mostly to women, have been changed and there is more freedom in the choice of marriage and the decisions made while in the institution.
Foundational Principles of Marriage
Many people today have lost the sacred meaning of marriage. More than fifty percent of marriages end in divorce and the remainder are the remaining half not happy and are not productive. The divorce process should not be what most couples should think of first, they should rather think of several foundational principles and steps that they should take to save their marriage. Commitment is the most basic principle of a marriage. Both partners require to be committed fully to the marriage in order for it to work out. An important step to ensure that both spouses get committed to the relationship is to seek counseling. Counseling is an important step in not only the saving but also the running of a successful marriage. Another important fact that a married couple should remember is that there are no perfect marriages. Perfect marriages are myths and the couple should learn that all marriages, even the happiest ones have vicissitudes (Straube, 2010).
The couple should therefore be ready to tackle whatever problem life throws their way and move past it stronger. Seeking perfection in one’s spouse is not a realistic goal and shall only bring or add more cracks in the marriage. Communication is the next important principle in a marriage. When communication in a marriage fails, the rifts and cracks start forming and the sooner it gets back the better since the cracks might just get to the size of valleys and the marriage shall break apart. For communication to exist there has to be honesty and with this, every issue in the marriage can be solved. Communication is also important since it helps in the solving and discussion of important matters concerning the marriage like financial issues. Compromise is another important part and principle of marriage. Compromise shows the commitment one has to their marriage.
Compromise requires the couple to view each other perfectly regardless of each other’s faults or imperfections. This shall strengthen the bond between them and ensure their marriage is of a high quality and is permanent. Children in a marriage also act as a firm foundation and a binding factor. These gifts from God make the couple responsible since they know they have a dependant or dependants. This mostly makes the people get closer as when they look at the child they view them as the materialization of their union. The knowledge of how children suffer from broken marriages should also be a catalyst to make his/her parents, the couple, compromise regardless of their misunderstandings and stay together.
The sacredness of marriage
Majority of the people today believe in the sanctity of marriage but ironically most marriages end up in divorces and some of them do so in record times. Those who take this view strongly know that a marriage is more than a legal agreement or a promise between two people who are romantically in love. This is because promises can be broken whenever one sees fit to do so and by doing so, it ends the marriage. God, as seen in the Christian scripture, views marriage as a sacred thing and in the book of Hebrews, he says that marriage should be honorable among all people. This shows that marriage should be precious and held with great esteem. Something of value therefore should be kept safe and should not be lost under any circumstances not even accidentally (Barnes & Barnes, 1996).
In all religions, the command by the Supreme Being in each context is to hold marriage sacred and to honor and respect one another while in it. In addition, another purpose of it is highlighted in all the religions as procreation and therefore the bearing of children. However, sanctity of marriage cannot come about without a few factors. Love and respect is one such factor. The marital arrangement requires honor by the honoring of each other while in the institution. Though spouses may not always act as they should, in a loving and caring manner, the love and respect should be present and they should forgive each other. Attention and time are other important factors in the sanctity of a marriage. Time should be taken to pursue the fulfillment of one another’s physical and emotional needs, as these cannot be obtained from anywhere else.
Sex and intimacy should be included in this bracket. For financial reasons, most couples decide to live away from each other in order to earn more income. However, such arrangements end up mostly in adultery, they heavily strain the marriage, and in most cases, they lead to divorce. Couples are therefore advised to forego the material wealth in order to maintain the relationship they deemed sacred. When a married couple encounters troubling times in the marriage, most religions advice the couple to maintain their relationship and put separation as their last option. Divorce is viewed a dishonoring the sacred bond between the two and it is viewed as causing the parties to commit adultery if they remarry. When problems arise, people are also advised to view them according to seriousness.
Truly, there are situations that a divorce would be the only solution like in the case of physical abuse or lack of support willfully. However, religion advices people to make these kinds of choices and decisions independently. People from all religions should learn that if this decision is made influenced from the advice of another person, they are the ones to live alone for the rest of their lives and not the decision maker. Religion does not also allow the casual view that people place on marriage. This is like when people marry in order to get citizenship of a country. Good marriages require much effort and perseverance and failure to uphold the sanctity of the institution leads to unhappiness or divorce. Moreover, honoring the marriage makes the marriage work and honors the Supreme Being as its Designer.
Call for Fruitfulness
Most religions and traditions had set the most important canon of marriage as procreation. Children were meant to be made to create continuity in the lifeline of their family, their parents and entirely their community or tribe. The marriage institution was viewed as the most sacred to play this role and was commissioned by the Supreme Being in most religions. The act of sex was previously done as a measure to procreate and not for pleasure. Fruitfulness does not only refer to the action of making children but also the creation of other things that shall make man’s life more comfortable. In the context of marriage being fruitful meant that the couple lived together, bore kids together, provided for themselves together and did everything else together (Sorenson, 2000).
Women were granted a monthly symbol of their fruitfulness, their monthly period. Her body releases the ovum and the male produces the sperm to show that she has fertility and the male has virility. These two unite to form a being that is precious and sacred. Men and women were therefore given the potential to produce offspring and it was meant to be conducted in a pact known as holy matrimony or marriage. Fruitfulness in the marriage is also a function of the commitment that a wife and a husband have on each other. This commitment fulfils what religion intends of the people, to bring forth life. Fruitfulness in the marriage also means that the marriage remains strong and both parties remain happy and satisfied. The living of a full marriage and life comes about when all requirements are satisfied and therefore creating fruitfulness.
Lock in Situation
The word wedlock has the term ‘lock’ in it. The purpose of a marriage is to get companionship, friendship, love, care, advice, sexual satisfaction, emotional satisfaction and to procreate. All these are to be achieved while the couple is living together. Therefore, the sanctity of marriage is very important while viewing the lick in situation it puts the couple. Marriage is meant to provide stability and a sense of well-being to the products created form the shared love, the children. As many religions dictate, the vows taken in a marriage should be taken very seriously. The joint created during such an occasion should be held firm for the sake of the sanctity of the marriage and for the sake of children born out of it.
Marriage is a holy institution that came to be long before civilization. The principles and tenets of its survival need to be practiced fully for it to work out successfully. For it also to be successful the parties involved need to have trust, love, compromise and ultimately patience. Love is a catalyst to marry but it is not the right approach as it is not enough to run a successful marriage. The sanctity of marriage should be taken seriously, as a blessing from a religious leader serves a lot in promoting the success of the marriage. People should remember the sanctity of the institution before engaging in the exercise and if they see fit not to they should stop forthwith as they risk breaking a holy covenant.
The bearing of kids in a marriage is a very important concept as it promotes the bond created in the love of the couple. In the instance that the marriage is broken, it is the children that suffer more than their parents do. This should be remembered by every person in a marriage that has children since they are innocent creatures that require constant care and not neglect. They are beings of God and great punishment comes upon those who mistreat them. The lock created when people marry should be maintained and kept so until death separates the couple. No man should put apart what the Supreme Being put together.
Barnes, R. G. & Barnes, R. J. (1996). Rock-Solid Marriage: Building a Permanent Relationship in a Throw-Away World. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Markle, S. (2010). God’s Wisdom for Marriage & the Home. Longwood, FL: Xulon Press.
Straube, R. (2010). Foundational Disciplining Principles. Longwood, FL: Xulon Press.
Sorenson, D. H. (2000). Have a heavenly marriage. New York, NY: Sword of the Lord Publishers.
Wilcoxon, S. A., Gladding, S. T., Remley, T. P. & Huber, C. H. (2007). Ethical, legal, and professional issues in the practice of marriage and family therapy. New York, NY: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.