My fiancée and I set a date to get married later this year, and started counselling a few months ago. Things were going well, or so I thought, until the counsellor pulled me aside after one of our sessions and told me that I’d be making a bad decision to marry her. He’s someone who knows my family, and he said that because he knows the family well he couldn’t sit back and not say that we were not a good match. I have been with this woman for three years, and we live together so we have had good times and bad — so I really don’t understand how he could see something that I don’t. He is divorced, by the way, and doesn’t hide the fact that he regretted that marriage. Could this be why he is against our union? I asked him for his reasons but he said I should just trust his advice. I haven’t told my wife-to-be what he said, and now I’m wondering what to do.
Thanks for reaching out. I commend you and your fiancée for the very smart move of getting premarital counselling. Every couple getting married should do as you and your fiancée are doing. The Bible says, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). Of course, the imperative is to find good counsel. Before we make any important decision we should secure good advisors in order to have the best chance at success. Many couples do not understand that getting married is a very big decision that requires good counsel — and no, “love” (as they call it) is not enough. Getting good information is imperative to making that marriage relationship experience prolonged bliss.
I am surprised that your counsellor has not provided you with the specific information on why he is objecting — that’s a part of the job. He really should provide this deal-breaker information to both of you. I hope his knowing your family is not interfering with his ability to be objective and professional. But regarding being a divorcé, it doesn’t mean he can’t provide sound advice. In fact, he may be able to speak experientially of mistakes. Remember too, a good counsellor must see want you can’t. Training and experience facilitates that — it’s the job.
This is difficult for you because you are invested in this relationship. Upending a relationship is not easy, yet premarital counselling is for reasons such as this. Yes, counsellors are to provide guidance and ask probing questions, etc but we point out serious red flags too. A big part of the job is to be able to say, “Nope, this doesn’t work.”
I recall a situation when I served outside of Jamaica. A particular lady was told of glaring red flags in her relationship; however, as happens at times, the warning was not heeded. She found a willing marriage officer and went ahead to tie the knot. She later deeply regretted that decision. I had to spend many hours intervening, comforting and counselling her. She has since divorced and migrated from that country.
My advice to you:
1. Press your counsellor for the information. Ask again what the issue is, and why you’re “not a good match”. Remind him (especially if you’ve paid) that it’s part of his responsibility to provide the information. You can’t accept “trust me” as adequate when making such a big decision.
2. Get additional advice. Don’t discard his advice, but seek advice from another counsellor, providing all the details that you can.
3. Hold off on the ceremony. If the date is upon you, hold off until you get further advice. Marriage is a big deal! For Samson, the strong Bible character we learned about in Sunday school, a bad marriage is what ultimately did him in. Don’t fear to do the necessary work to get it right.
Get on The Counsellor’s Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.