Why should we do premarital counseling?
Couples who participate in a pre-marriage counseling or educational program are 30% more likely to have a successful marriage.
Maybe you have a great relationship and want to make sure it continues to be great long-term. Maybe there are some areas that you know could use some work. Or perhaps there’s a topic that you want to discuss before the big day that you don’t know how to talk about. There are numerous reasons to do premarital counseling, and no reason not to.
Every marriage is going to have its own challenges, but why not start off in the best possible way. Therapy is not exclusively for when people are having problems. Most of us have never been taught how to successfully merge our life with someone else’s, or deal with conflict in a healthy way. Every interaction we have with our partner impacts our perception of the relationship. Research shows that you need to have 5 positive interactions to balance out just one negative. This means that you consistently need to have an overall positive balance to counteract the impact that those inevitable negative interactions will have on your marriage.
what does premarital counseling include?
Starting a premarital therapeutic program entails a combination of education and couples therapy interventions. The program will be targeted to your individual needs based on each partner’s experiences, skills, and areas of concern. Some of the most common focus areas include:
- Communication Skills
- Identifying areas of conflict or incompatibility to be resolved
- Boundary setting
- Expectations of the marriage
- Views of separateness vs. togetherness within the marriage
- Skills to fight fair
- Relationship repair and maintenance
Begin with Conscious Intent
If you start the marriage in the ways that you intend for it to continue, it is much simpler than trying to change habits after they have become engrained. What do you want your marriage to look like in a year, five years, ten years down the road? It’s important to think about that so you know what actions you can take today to end up where you want to be.
Have You Discussed All Major Conflict Areas?
There are several areas within a relationship that most often cause problems or conflict in the marriage. Remember that you are coming together with two different sets of values, expectations, and experiences. Some of the top conflict areas are money, kids, and sex. Often we talk about these things in the abstract, or think that we already know how our partner feels about everything. But have you really talked about all of the details? Have you asked all of the difficult questions, even when you are uncomfortable with the subject? Maybe you are not sure what questions you need to ask. Even if it’s scary, it’s better to find out. It’s important to know how you both feel about all of these topics before tying the knot.
Do You Know How to Fight Fair?
Counseling can teach you how to handle disagreements in a way that does not damage the relationship. It’s okay to fight as long as you both fight fair. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to do this effectively. Many times disagreements can be avoided with good communication skills and problem solving. When that doesn’t work, you need to know how to fight without one or both of you walking away hurt and angry. You or your partner may not be fighting fair if you recognize any of the items below:
- Do you walk away from fights feeling like nothing was resolved?
- Do you have the same argument over and over again?
- Do you have trouble listening because you are thinking of your response?
- Do either of you bring up past hurts or wrongs to try to make a point?
- Do your fights change topic in the middle?
- Do one or both of you roll your eyes, sigh, or scoff when the other is talking?
- Do one of you shut down and stop engaging or walk out during fights?
- Do you feel the need to defend yourself when your partner is talking?
- Does your partner try to shift the blame on to you?
- Does your partner criticize or act condescending during fights?
- Do your fights lead to tension or awkwardness for hours or days after?
If you identify with any of these, make sure you learn how to remedy the problem.
Wedding Planning is Stressful
Getting married is a happy joyful occasion. However, everything leading up to it is not always so joyous. Even the most compatible, easy-going couples can struggle during the wedding planning phase. No matter how big or small the wedding, it is a stressful time. There’s so much to do, so many expectations to manage, and so many moments for conflicts to arise. It helps to have someone assist you in learning to navigate all of the emotions involved.