The Sweet Christian Bride

Guest Post from Reverend Danny Hall: Family of Origin

by admin on February 16, 2012 in Communication, Pre-Marital Counseling with 1 Comment

One of the biggest adventures you will have as a bride is discovering your fiancé’s family, or should I say, your soon-to-be family.  I thank God that my adventure read more like a fairy tale; my in-laws are more wonderful than I ever could have hoped for.  Both my mother-in-law and my father-in-law bless Chris and me with faithful love and Christ-centered wisdom.

It’s my privilege to share some of that wisdom with you by introducing my father-in-law, Reverend Danny Hall, as a monthly guest blogger on SCB.  As one who is seasoned in matters of pre-marital counseling, Danny will offer insight that you can address with your fiancé directly or that you can store up for your pre-marital counseling sessions.

Enjoy Post 1!

Family of Origin

As I entered the church I was stunned.  Nestled in a small town in Austria about three hours’ drive from our home in Vienna, this small church was breathtakingly beautiful. It was the night of the rehearsal for the wedding of a couple in our church, and after months of preparation, the weekend was finally here. We were all excited about the upcoming events.

Before the night was over, however, that beautiful setting hosted some excruciatingly tense moments as we worked through the staging of the ceremony.  The American bride had been dreaming for years and planning for months how her wedding would look and flow. The Austrian groom was more than supportive, but the choice to have the wedding in his homeland, where they then lived, opened the door for some serious cultural clashes. His family also had some deeply embedded notions of how a wedding was supposed to be done.

Over the course of that rehearsal, I witnessed a graphic example of what a wedding is.  It is not just the joining of two people in that moment of their lives; it is also the joining of two histories, two families, and two cultures that have shaped and will continue to shape who those people are.  Fortunately, compromises were made, and it all worked out.  The wedding was a beautiful celebration.

Even though this occurred around twenty years ago, going through this changed the way I think about pre-marital counseling. While there are many topics that require thoughtful consideration, I have found myself spending more and more time talking with couples about the impact of and the ongoing relationship with their respective families of origin. Apart from the impact of the couple’s faith journey, nothing else influences a marriage more than family.

Many, if not most, of our life patterns are influenced by our family of origin.  Among these are our views of self, our communication styles, our conflict resolution methods, our basic values, as well as our attitudes and habits in areas such as finances and sexuality. While this is not really ground-breaking news for most people, it is often surprising and hard to grasp just how deeply ingrained some of these are and how extensively, in both overt and subtle ways, our behavior is affected.

Preparing for and living out a healthy marriage requires a basic exploration of the impact of our families on us.  Over the next few months, I will explore some specific areas where this comes into play.  Hopefully, by taking some time to consider this, you can begin now to take steps to leverage the good things you have gained from your family and deal with those that hamper your growth.

As a practical first step, why don’t you and your fiancé each write out a life map, tracing your personal history and the people and events that you think have most deeply marked you. Take some time to share them with each other.  Listen carefully to each other and then ask questions only in an effort to clarify something you don’t understand. Resist the temptation to “fix” anything.  Just listen and learn.  If something difficult comes up, jot it down and take it with you to a pre-marital counseling session.  Hopefully, this little exercise will begin an ongoing dialogue that can better prepare you for marriage.

-Rev. Danny Hall

Serving as a missionary and pastor for 35 years, Danny Hall has had many opportunities to provide counseling for brides and grooms. A native of Atlanta, Danny has been married to his wife Ginger for 37 years. They have one son, Chris, and a daughter-in-law, Lindsay. He is currently Sr. Pastor at Valley Community Church in Pleasanton, California. He loves to read, ski, and support his beloved Atlanta Braves.

By Lindsay

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