In accordance with God’s original intention, marriage is the bond of the utmost closeness between two people. However, it seems that very few find themselves in an alliance where needs are satisfied, dreams are pursued, balance is achieved, and God is celebrated. Couples are in need of someone helping them enter marriage in such a way that there is a greater chance that it lasts and each partner is fulfilled, and such people are marital counselors.
H. Norman Wright’s “The Premarital Counseling Handbook”
Numerous books have been written on the art of marriage counseling, one of which is H. Norman Wright’s The Premarital Counseling Handbook. In his work, Wright (1992) speaks on a plethora of factors that couples need to consider before deciding to get married. For instance, the author believes that it is important to know about the so-called marriageability traits. These are an individual’s traits that make them a better partner and make it more likely for their marriage to work. As per Wright (1992), marriageability traits are: “adaptability and flexibility, empathy, ability to work through problems, ability to give and receive love, emotional stability, similar family backgrounds, similarities between the couple themselves, and communication” (p.39). The presence of these elements increases the likelihood of satisfaction and stability in the marriage.
When it comes to adaptability and flexibility, they speak of a person’s ability to adapt to change with minimal rigidity. This is what the Bible says, as per Ephesians 4:2: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (BibleGateway, n.d.a). Then there is empathy, the ability to understand one’s needs, desires, and pains, and feel for them. Wright (1992) notes that empathy is a necessity for interpersonal relationships, especially for marriages. The concept of empathy seems to be reflected well in the Word of God, Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (BibleGateway, n.d.b). The ability to overcome problems and differences, which are an integral part of marriage, is another marriageability trait. Instead of running from problems and ignoring them, couples who accept that they exist and work together to find solutions are likely to stay married.
Equally important are both the ability to give love and the ability to receive it. Everyone knows that one must show another their feelings; however, by not accepting their partner’s love in return an individual increases the probability of the partner leaving to find someone who will accept it. In addition to that, there is emotional stability – a person’s ability to accept their emotions and control them – that creates balance in relationships. According to Wright (1992), people depend on those who have consistent and reliable emotional responses. Moreover, the similarities between the couple’s family backgrounds and themselves, the easier the married life. The bigger the background differences – among other, cultural, economic, and religious – the larger the number of adjustments to be made for two people to successfully live together. The same applies to their interests, perspectives, likes, and dislikes – if these are very different, it is tough for a relationship to work. Finally, there is communication, the ability to deliver information in such a way that the other person understands and accepts it, and listen to them when they share.
Furthermore, there is a portion of The Premarital Counseling Handbook that is devoted to the arrangement of premarital counseling. Wright (1992) notes that, while there is a specific structure, flexibility tends to occur within it. For one, I like the strategy of developing a support team of qualified individuals/couples to help a specialist with their premarital counseling and would like to adopt it in my practice. I believe that it is an excellent solution for someone who marries a substantial amount of couples and is physically unable to consult all of them. For training such a team, there is a variety of options when it comes to the final step, live counseling observations. In my opinion, having an individual/couple observing a specialist leading a couple’s service is the best approach. It is not as intimidating for the couple as if a whole group of trainees were to observe them and has a bigger impact than video training tapes. In terms of the counseling pattern, I would resort to such evaluation instruments as The Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis and PREPARE II. Their effectiveness is confirmed by reputable organizations and tested by time.
Gary Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages”
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is another prominent work that can help a specialist in their marriage counseling. For one, Chapman (2010) explains that love, for each person, is an emotional need that follows them from childhood into adult life and into marriage. The experience of being in love temporarily satisfies this need, but after an individual descends from the height of the obsession with someone, they inevitably feel that there is something missing. For an emotional need in love to be met, a person must have their partner speak their love language. Chapman (2010) speaks about how meeting this need for someone is a conscious choice for an individual to make. If a husband chooses to learn his wife’s love language and tends to speak it, she will feel loved in a way meaningful to her. However, if he does not put into work for this to occur, when the emotional high from the stage of being in love passes, a wife will yearn for the unmet emotional need.
One more interesting concept that Chapman discusses in his book is the concept of loving the unlovely. It refers to the author’s hypothesis that a person can save their relationship by learning a partner’s love language and speaking it for a period of time until the partner starts to respond. It is extremely difficult for the one doing the ‘saving’ since they need to practically force themselves to demonstrate love to their other half at first, hence the ‘unlovely’ in the name of the concept. However, it tends to work, and marriages have been saved in such a way, therefore, it is worth it.
All of this information is extremely beneficial for marital counseling because it proves that love is not something that arises and fades irrespective of the circumstances. Love can be worked on and relationships can be improved if two people, or sometimes even one of them, put enough work into it. Marital counseling is a practice that is capable of giving couples the tools to solve their problems, and this is why going to it is worthwhile.
Personality Trait: Neuroticism
People’s personality traits affect their relationships, and one trait that affects mine is neuroticism. According to Cuncic (2022), neuroticism is defined by one’s tendency to complain, inability to deal with stress, strong responses to perceived threats, and bad self-regulation, all of which applies to me. Manifestations of my neuroticism lead to conflicts with partners, friends, and loved ones, but I do my best to keep it under control and not let it impact my studies and work.
BibleGateway. (n.d.a). Ephesians 4:2. Web.
BibleGateway. (n.d.b). Romans 12:15. Web.
Chapman, G. D. (2010). The 5 love languages: The secret to love that lasts. Northfield Publishing.
Cuncic, A. (2022). How neuroticism affects your relationships. VeryWell Mind. Web.
Wright, H. N. (1992). The premarital counseling handbook. Moody Publishers.