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Hello friends! If you can believe it, mine and Adam’s wedding is just 38 days away. 38 days! Our engagement, thus far, has seemed to fly by and I just can’t wait for these last few weeks to do the same. Life has been hectic and busy over the last month or so and all things wedding/marriage have taken over my free time and seem to occupy any extra brain space I have floating around up there.

To give you a small sampling of what I’m talking about, as evidenced above: I have 1 binder, 2 notebooks, 5 spreadsheets, 7 folders, and countless emails all detailing wedding plans. I spent 10 hours prepping, addressing, stuffing, and sealing our wedding invitations alone. An entire room in my parents’ house has been turned into my wedding craft war zone. And, to top it all off, Adam and I spent an entire weekend cleaning, painting, filling, and rearranging his house in preparation for me moving in after the wedding.

Oh, and we both work, full time, many weeks Adam working well over full time.

Fortunately, I eat this wedding stuff up. I love all of the planning, as well as the execution of those plans. Our wedding is going to be a blast!

But, guess what. Once the wedding is over, we’ll be married! No brainer, right? Weddings lead to marriage. Duh.

Well, not “duh.” It makes logical sense, of course, but once the wedding and honeymoon are over, real life must be lived. Together. As one. With all of the ups and downs this beautiful life has to offer. When we stand on that altar together in 38 days, we are entering a covenant with one another and with God. That’s a HUGE deal. Like H-U-G-E HUGE deal!

So, it’s no wonder people get cold feet. It’s no wonder so many marriages struggle. So, what can we do? How can we make our story, or your story, or the story of the couple who’s been married for 65 years different? There are, of course, several answers to this question, but one in particular I want to discuss today.

Adam and I decided early on in our relationship, that should things lead to engagement, we would dive head first into premarital counseling. We made the decision to do everything in our power to equip our relationship for success, and premarital counseling was a must-do in making that happen.

Adam proposed on a Saturday and the following Monday I made a call to Licensed Mental Health Counselor Dawna Prostak at Grace Clinic, a Christian counseling center here in Orlando. She sounds intimidating, doesn’t she!? Fortunately, Dawna had come highly recommended by some friends of ours, so we knew we’d be in good hands. And, my oh my, that has proven to be so true! During my first telephone conversation with Dawna, she told me that her job was to encourage, strengthen, and cheer for our relationship, but that it wasn’t always going to be easy. She also warned that she would point out “red flags” the moment she saw them. Uh oh.

Before our first session, Adam and I were nervous wrecks!  We were excited to, ultimately, grow deep, solid roots heading into marriage, but the thought of dredging up past experiences, relationships, habits, and sins was daunting. What if we came out of this thing feeling like marriage just wasn’t for us? Even worse, it’s not for just ONE of us?  What if this trained, third party sees something in our relationship that we’re too blinded to see? All of these were scary thoughts, but again, we knew we wanted to explore ALL of that and, God willing, come out alright on the other side.

Much to our relief, the first few weeks were great! We spent time discussing our relationship, our childhoods, our work environments. The next few weeks, not so great. Life, like I mentioned above, had just gotten busy. We weren’t communicating well, we weren’t spending quality time together. (I’ll take full credit for that one as I slyly turned everything we did into a wedding task.) So, we met with Dawna and the session was rough, just rough. I cried. Adam “bristled” as Dawna so aptly described it. We were sitting in front of a professional and still barely communicating. And, then, the premarital hammer came down. In the most effective way possible.

Dawna explained some really important things that each of us had been trying to communicate with one another for weeks, maybe months. She spoke with authority that neither Adam nor I have. She helped us understand some really root causes of recurring issues in our relationship. And, in that session, something just clicked. Something clicked for me. Something clicked for Adam. We were given the gift of understanding paired with some very tangible tools. We left that night feeling relief and empowerment, and most of all, a new concept of loving each other in the best ways possible.

It’s been about a month since that session and our relationship honestly feels transformed. We react differently, we conflict healthily, we listen to and support each other in ways we just weren’t doing before. We feel truly, truly blessed by the work God has done through our time with Dawna. Fortunately, we have a few more sessions before the big day as well as the option to continue meeting with Dawna once we settle into “real” life. Her counsel has been invaluable and I recommend counseling to any and all serious couples, whether you’re dating, engaged, or already married!

I’d also like to note that Adam and I joined an almost-married/newly-married small group that has been a huge blessing as well. The group is lead by some of our good friends Craig and Jenn who have been married for 35 years and still celebrate their anniversary every month! We, along with 5 other couples, have been going through a series called “The Art of Marriage”  for the last 6 weeks and the experiences presented in the videos, along with Jenn and Craig’s example, has been so inspiring.

I’m not sure I can accurately express just how helpful seeking counsel in our relationship has been. We were in love before it, but have seen our love grow to new depths because of it. If you’re madly in love, or find yourself falling out of love, and you want to see your love flourish and withstand the test of time, please take a step towards preservation and restoration and invite wisdom into your relationship. You’ll be so glad you did!

Dawna can be reached here and you can purchase “The Art of Marriage” here. Do one or do both and see your relationship transformed!

Nourish and Be Nourished::