Rabbi Netanel ben Yohanan ( Percy Johnson) has been a Marriage and Family Counselor for over 35 years. His pre-marital courses have saved people from making the worst mistake of their lives. Here is some advice from our Rabbi:
His experience as well encompasses working in Drug Dependency and Prison Chaplaincy and as Chaplain for the US Department of State. He has been called in to do Mediation and Crisis management for several organizations. The study of Torah for the past 40 years gives him the added spiritual insight necessary for a more holistic approach to recovery and healing.
Shear Yashuv Counseling:
a. Family counselling
b. Individual counselling
c. Pre and marital counselling (6 months of counseling suggested prior to wedding)
d. Counsel and referrals for addictions and other life-challenging issues
a. Officiate religious ceremonies such as inter-faith marriages.
I have always been surprised at how much time and energy people put into the things of interest to them. For example, I have seen many young people who before buying their car, will spend hours searching the internet for every available car, reading the statistics and preparing extremely well before making their purchase. When a couple decides it’s time to buy their first house, again they begin an arduous search, meeting with real estate agents, visiting many homes, closely examining their finances trying to match their needs. They hire a lawyer, an appraiser and go to great lengths before making this important purchase. We look forward to our retirement and research the best investments with the highest return so that we can live out our days in comfort.
Yet when it comes to the most important area of our lives—our mate, the person with whom we will share our deepest intimacies, build a home and family and in whom we will place our trust…most of us never consider seeking counsel from a professional. We prefer to choose a partner based on “emotion” or other untrustworthy criteria. We don’t hesitate to spend a ton of money, time and effort on a wedding which lasts only one day. The result of this lack of preparation to find the right partner can be devastating not only financially but also emotionally for the couple, their families and the children who are born into a very unhappy marriage.
For this reason, I believe that the greatest investment that a couple can make has to be made before they get married. After the wedding it is already too late.
To a young couple looking to get married here is some wise advice. There are three areas that are important to analyze: First—“Spiritual and Social” (religion and birth background), second “Educational” and third “Financial”. The role of a Pre-marital Counselor is to be objective in order to give the best advice to a young couple about to embark on the most important journey of their life. At the end, it is of course up to the couple to make the final decision about their future relationship. Remember that it is important that to be objective so that the present cloud of emotion does not cover the reality of a match which is not necessarily made in heaven.
How often have I as a Rabbi brought up specific issues which were an alarm to me for the future happiness of the couple in counseling. They would simply look into each other’s eyes and say to me …”Oh, that won’t be a problem for us, we are so much in love “ Three months after the wedding, they would return crying to me “why didn’t we listen to you!?” All I could do at that point is let them know that now they would have to work very hard to make their relationship bearable but now it was too late to undo what was already done. If they didn’t want to work at it the only other alternative to consider was divorce.
Strongly consider investing your time in some pre-marital counseling before making the most important commitment of your life. You will absolutely increase your chances of having a joyful and fulfilled married life. Do not become another statistic for a broken marriage.