Marriage ministry should not be limited to premarital and divorce counseling. The church needs to support couples as they stumble together through years of marriage following the wedding day. Surely a stronger relationship between spouses based on faith will reduce, if not eliminate, the likelihood of divorce.
Soon I’ll be celebrating my fourth wedding anniversary. I am looking forward to it and the 44+ anniversaries we will have after this. However, I know like any couple who does not live in a fantasy world that marriage is not easy. It would have been nice to have had one or more other couples not related to us to talk with, particularly during the first couple years of marriage. Surely there would have been value in relationships with either long-time married couples or those who were married around the same time. The time could have been used for gaining wisdom from many trials spent together or for mutual support from peers at the same point in the partnership journey.
In any case, the church is a wonderful place to provide support. It grows right out of premarital counseling programs and continues after the couple returns from the honeymoon. Some churches do have programs for new couples. Interpreter Magazine highlighted some of these in its May-June issue. I am excited about them. Such support will help the new couples continue their relationship with the church in the years between marriage and when they bring their kids to be baptized. It can also be an extension of the ministry to young adults, though many new couples are no longer young adults. My wife and I were in our 30s when we got married, and many other couples we know were older.
The wedding ceremony is a valuable service of worship when held in the local church. It should not be the churches only connection to marriage. We ask in the wedding service for God to be present in the marriage, so the church should continue its relationship with the couple afterward to strengthen the couple’s connection with God and each other. Please share in the comments what your church is doing to support those who are recently married.