Just like prenuptial agreements, premarital counseling seems scary to many couples. After all, few of us are willing to admit that something might potentially go wrong in our current relationship or perhaps even our marriage down the road. As we are soaked in the loving moment and the excitement of walking down the aisle we can easily forget that relationships take work and commitment. However, given the staggering divorce rates of 50% nationwide, it is pragmatic to seek premarital counseling before you set the wedding date. Psychology Today’s studies suggest that couples that choose to receive counseling have lower divorce rates than those that do not.
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Open to discussing issues
Couples who attend premarital counseling are encouraged to discuss issues that most couples bicker about. The goal is to keep these little quarrels from eventually igniting, potentially leading to divorce or separation. Believe it or not, many couples may not even seriously discuss matters such as religion, children, or future goals before they decide to pop the question. There are definitely major topics that should be considered and discussed prior to saying “til death do us part”. For example, you may discuss under what religion you will raise your future children, or where to raise them. Like everything in life, having a plan in place on how you may handle serious issues solidifies the base of your relationship. Both parties get to voice their concerns and propose a course of action.
My husband and I have been married for 30 years (this year). There are many things that we may not necessarily have agreed upon but we have always been able to work through them. Literally the only thing that was a barrier was politics. I could have cared less – and he cared alot.
Counseling can also help you go through any negative feelings or triggers before they are too big to contain. We all know one couple in our friend group that seems to have it all together. Remember that nothing is always as it seems on the outside. I have several friends who I thought for sure when they got married – they were the perfect couples. Yet, they didn’t last. Don’t believe all that is displayed on social media. Personally I think those persons who constantly feel the need to proclaim their love for their spouse/significant other on social media are troubled. Like they can’t prove it to their spouse so they have to prove it to the world. Our relationship doesn’t need to be shouted from the rooftops. We are a bit more private in our love for one another.
Premarital counseling requires work and commitment and sometimes and that involves some uncomfortable topics. Maybe you don’t really know each other as well as you think you do. Perhaps there are events in one another’s past that really need to be worked through before they cause someone to self sabotage. All couples can benefit from premarital counseling, including the ones that seem perfect on the outside. Codependence is never easy. When someone told you they never argued with their partner, don’t buy it, since no marriage will ever be problem-free. Adversity is what breeds stronger bonds, longevity and happiness, if you know how to compromise and solve your issues with proper guidance.
Effective communication is a prerequisite to any relationship. Being a good, empathetic listener requires patience and no judgement. At first this can be really difficult. Yes we have been married for 30 years but I tell anyone who is young and rushing into marriage – take your time. Get to really really know one another. You will spend alot of the first five years picking your battles – accepting what you can and working on what you can. It is a skill that needs to be learned through trials and errors. Sometimes we get so caught up in life we forget how to compromise, communicate, negotiate, set boundaries, assert what we want and how we feel. A counselor can serve as a mediator of these conversations. This can happen in a safe space and in a mutually trustful and respected space.
Financed will always be an issue unless you are somehow lucky to avoid that. My husband and I both have good careers and mostly everything we need. But even with that – believe me we have had financial situations. The biggies were major illnesses, special needs children (adopted), job loss, child support, student loans, failed business ventures and more. How will your relationship be able to handle all of that? Without a doubt both of you will be coming to the relationship with your own finances and potential issues. If you can’t work through those differences, you may not be ready to handle what your life together and finances are.
Another biggie right off the bat is the wedding. I definitely did not want a big wedding. I don’t like being in the spotlight for anything – my husband, well he enjoys the spotlight far more than I. A nice dinner with immediate families to me sounded perfect. Then it grew and grew and families took over and next thing you know our wedding had 250 people. We survived it. But if you can’t come to a wedding agreement, that may be the end before your married life even starts. Our compromise – 250 people but the guys did not wear tuxes, they just wore suits; I wasn’t getting married in a church – though I am very religious that was just too much for me. So we got married in a very small chapel – in fact the smallest chapel in the world – literally. We both agreed that our wedding was not going to bankrupt us. We cut costs where we could and just didn’t consider some traditional events important. Moral of the story – premarital counseling with ReGain can help work through some of these issues where you are clearly on vastly different sides of the issue.