Recovering Centuries of Wisdom
Or, How to Be Happy, Though Married
Breakpoint Commentary by Chuck Colson
March 19, 2008
A pastor -- we will call him Reverend Galsworthy -- was meeting with
a young engaged couple, and he could not help heaving a quiet sigh of
frustration. Kirk and Gillian, you see, were like most of the other
couples he had met with lately. They wanted to be married right away --
no premarital counseling. They were also living together. When their
pastor asked if they would consider living apart until their wedding
day, the couple emphatically refused.
Instead of insisting, Rev. Galsworthy gave up and went along with the
What a terrible mistake. In my view, pastors like this ought to have
their marriage licenses revoked. As my friend and marriage expert Mike
McManus writes, ministers who go along to get along are complicit in
America’s divorce rate -- among the highest in the world.
Mike and his wife, Harriet, have just written a new book titled LIVING
TOGETHER: MYTHS, RISKS, & ANSWERS. Its target audience is pastors who
have no idea why or how they should counsel engaged couples.
For example, pastors ought to insist that engaged couples live apart and
remain chaste. If they object, they ought to be told that couples who
live together in a kind of "trial marriage" are 50 percent more likely
to divorce than couples who do not cohabit. As the McManuses note, "What
four out of five [co-habiting couples] experience is really a ‘trial
divorce.’ The only question is whether they will break up before the
wedding or afterwards."
There is also the matter of pre-marital counseling. Couples often brush
aside the need for it. They are convinced that love will overcome
anything. Bunk! Counseling is absolutely essential.
The McManuses describe a Christian couple they once counseled: Hector
and Teresa lived together, but kept separate bank accounts. Teresa
fought with Hector’s family, and Hector spent large amounts of money
without consulting Teresa.
Mike and Harriet McManus had the couple take a premarital inventory
called PREPARE. This questionnaire helps couples determine if they are
truly compatible and predicts marital success with 80 percent accuracy.
Although hesitant at first, Hector and Teresa agreed to live apart until
the wedding. The McManuses also helped the couple see their independent
attitudes would damage their future marriage. They taught them what a
nurturing, biblical marriage is all about.
Today, five years after tying the knot, Hector and Teresa are happily
married -- and they credit marital counseling for their success.
Too often today, young couples accept secular teachings on love, sex,
and marriage -- destructive teachings that they absorb through films,
television, and academia. Christian counseling helps couples recover
centuries of wisdom: that in the happiest marriages, husbands and wives
are chaste beforehand and faithful afterwards. They submit to and serve
one another, and bring their marriage under the Lordship of Christ.
I suggest you give your pastor a copy of the McManus’s book, LIVING
TOGETHER. And tell him how wonderful it would be if your church was
known as the one where divorce was almost unheard of -- because couples
were so well prepared for marital bliss.
And if you know a couple planning to marry -- give them a copy, too. You
will be giving them the perfect wedding gift: the gift of a happy,