What are the most important points a counselor or pastor should try to get across to couples soon to be married? That question is very much open to debate and given the typical timeframes and sessions available there is not a single pat answer. People are different, come from different backgrounds and are at different places spiritually but I believe understanding their partner’s God-given temperament is vitally important.
I would love to have spiritually mature people who love God, know the bible and are committed to entering the marriage covenant in full obedience to Him. That is rarely the case however and my experience is that I must choose which elements of marital counsel is going to best serve each couple.Do they need to know about God’s covenant view of marriage? Are the different needs of each partner for love (the wife) and respect (the husband) from Ephesians 5:33 something they will take hold of? Are they open to dealing with hurts, wounds or strongholds from their past?
In our counseling center, we use a clinical diagnostic tool called the Arno Profile System to help assess individual temperaments. This tool focuses on the need we all have in the areas of inclusion (social interaction), control and affection. We have found it very valuable in helping people in all sorts of counseling situations because it considers each person’s God-given make-up. Each temperament type has different strengths and weaknesses and also needs that must be met in godly ways to avoid problems.
The book “Love Languages” by Gary Chapman looks at people’s needs in a simplified practical format and a key point is that people tend to “love” their spouses in their own love language rather than what the person really needs. The starting point to correcting that is a proper understanding of their mate’s needs followed by a willing heart to meet them!
I try to reinforce the notion to premarital couples that marriage is about serving, not getting and a willing heart coupled with a meaningful understanding of what their partner needs can go a long way to starting on the right foot! It doesn’t hurt that I am able to bring in my own frame of reference of thirty four years of marriage so that they know this is not “book learning” I’m laying out before them.
How is temperament analysis helpful? If one is more socially outgoing than the other, they need to figure out how to deal with that? If one is more choleric (dominant) in the area of control, how can they prepare to handle disagreements and develop a decision-making process where the more submissive partner is not left out? There are many more examples but hopefully you get the idea.
Newlyweds have a lot of struggles and truly understanding a partner’s temperament, coupled with willingness to compromise and meet those needs, goes a long way to getting things off to a good beginning? We don’t have to learn everything by trial and error!
If you’re about to be married or been married a long time, have you thought about getting your temperament analysis done?