Starting Off On The Right Foot: Pre Marriage Counseling
Marriage is supposed to be for life. Much planning goes into the wedding day after getting engaged – purchasing flowers, getting ring ideas, and deciding how the couple will spend money for the wedding. Unfortunately, engaged couples typically do not spend nearly as much time setting realistic expectations for how to handle household chores, the monthly budget, or reduce conflict after they are married. These issues are often the basis for potential conflicts. While these are difficult conversations to have, getting answers to these types of premarital questions early will help you avoid future problems and help you build a strong foundation for your marriage.
Some people never enjoy the privilege of having a wedding day or building a family, while others marry two, three, or more times. What is the difference between a relationship that will stand the test of time, and one that starts well but becomes ever more brittle over the years? While there are a variety of answers to this question, one thing that's beyond doubt is that most couples starting out on their new life together can benefit from pre-marriage counseling, also known as premarital counseling.
To be quite honest, it is fundamentally difficult to know another person well. This is one of the life secrets many people embarking on the adventure of marriage don't know. The truth is that love and money are often just not enough to compensate for the space that separates everyone, whether we choose to acknowledge this or not.
Benefits of Pre Marriage Counseling
"Fools rush in", as the saying goes, but doing so can lead to a situation where relationship counseling is required to resolve problems that didn’t have to occur in the first place. Avoiding this backward approach is one reason why many couples opt to go for pre-marriage counseling. Extended family can sometimes help guide a couple in the right direction for their future, but it is no substitute for a licensed marriage and family therapist.
Much like signing a prenuptial agreement, premarital counseling does not mean you expect things to go wrong, but you are taking an adult view of the major step you're about to take in creating a new family. The benefits of premarital counseling will be visible in the present as well as the future.
Rather than trying to improve your marriage once things have already started to head south, it makes sense to forestall any issues that may arise later with a short course of couples' counseling before the big day. You don’t need to wait until there is something creating distance between the two of you. Talking about expectations, hopes, and things that bother either of you is something couples with a healthy relationship in a licensed marriage do often.
Some people ask the following questions when trying to decide to take premarital counseling together:
What do you discuss in pre marriage counseling?
Will a therapist broach hard topics like sex and money?
Is marriage counseling before marriage a good idea?
What is the honest success rate of premarital counseling?
Does premarital counseling reduce divorce rates?
What premarital questions do they discuss in pre marriage counseling?
What premarital questions will a premarital marriage counselor ask?
Why pre marriage counseling is important?
Does marriage counseling make things worse?
Do couples therapists ever discuss separation?
Does marriage counseling with a therapist really work?
Get to Know Your Partner Better
Even though you may currently be blindly in love, both of you should remember that marriage is a bond of many dimensions - financial, familial, sexual, and emotional.
It takes time for a married couple to get to know their partner’s beliefs, religious beliefs, how each person will handle conflict, and what involvement their partner’s family will have in their married life.
Making sure that you and your future spouse are on the same page regarding all of these issues is perhaps the best way to maintain and improve your marriage. When trouble starts to emerge in married life, premarital counseling can have huge benefits.
What kinds of topics are commonly covered in premarital counseling? A therapist is likely to touch on a variety of subjects, such as how you both view commitment, what your short- and long-term goals are, what kinds of expectations you have of each other, and how you will handle financial decisions. Here is a list of the types of questions you might expect:
What do you hope to gain from premarital counseling?
What drew you to each other initially? Were you looking for someone with certain qualities?
In what ways are you similar to your partner? In what ways are you different?
How would you define a happy marriage?
What makes you two "click"?
What kinds of personal goals do you aspire to? Do they mesh with any relationship goals you might have set?
What do you admire or respect about your partner?
Are you on the same page regarding family life and children? Have you discussed how you would manage these changes with the other person?
If you plan to have children, how would you describe your parenting styles? Are they in sync?
What role will your in-laws and other family play in your life? How often do you expect to see them?
Where would you ultimately like to live? Do you have a lifestyle you are hoping to achieve?
What are your professional goals? What sacrifices might need to be made so you can help each other achieve them?
What are your expectations for alone time? Friend time? Couple time?
Do you have a clear understanding of how your past relationships may affect your relationship with each other now?
Are there any changes you would like to make in yourself that you are hoping your mate will support?
How important is it to you to achieve a certain financial status?
Have you discussed how you will handle money on a day-to-day basis? Will you have joint checking accounts or separate ones? Do you agree on a monthly budget?
What role did money play in your family growing up? Are there any issues from your early experiences that may affect your relationship now?
Have you discussed any debt either of you has? What is the plan for paying off this debt?
Premarital counseling aims to give both engaged partners time to discuss hard topics and answer premarital counseling questions in an open, honest way during professional therapy sessions so you can have a better future together.
How do you resolve arguments with each other? Would you like your partner to respond differently?
How will you divide housework and/or yard maintenance?
Do you have a role model for the type of partner you would like to be? Or the type of marriage you would like to have?
Do you have the same expectations regarding sex? Is sex a topic you can speak openly about with your partner? Does your partner expect sex more or less often than you do?
How important is religion or spirituality to you? What role does this play in your life now? If you plan to have children, are you in agreement about how you will address this topic?
Is there anything that would be considered a "deal breaker" in your relationship? What actions or behaviors are absolutely off-limits?
What kinds of traditions or rituals would you like to start as you begin your life together?
Is there any information or topic that hasn't been brought up that you think is important to discuss?
Whatever premarital questions you may have, premarital counseling with a family therapist can help answer them. A licensed marriage and family therapist can also be instrumental in helping you both improve your conflict resolution skills during joint sessions in premarital counseling.
This is just a sample of the types of questions that may be introduced in premarital counseling sessions. You will be encouraged to continue difficult conversations on these subjects at home together and bring back any issues you want to talk about. While discussing these questions on your own is certainly helpful, having someone professionally trained in counseling who can walk you through the process can help you get the maximum benefit of premarital counseling and assist with resolving any potential problems that may surface.
If you've never been in a counseling type situation before, talking about personal information in this way may be new to you. Just remember that you will get out what you put in. The goal of the experience is for you and your partner to learn more about each other and address any problem areas proactively. Premarital counseling may help you both to improve your communication skills. The more you your thoughts and feelings in an open and honest way, the better outcome you will have. (You might even have some fun learning new things about yourself and your mate.)
Still, it may seem difficult to discuss issues including very personal matters such as sex in front of someone you know, perhaps even the priest or rabbi who will be performing the ceremony. Premarital counseling can help. Fortunately, there is an easy solution: anonymous online relationship counseling provided by experienced and accredited therapists specializing in the field of premarital counseling.
Though you may want to believe that your love will conquer all, allowing a professional to point out some of the hazards your married relationship will be facing can help to lay the groundwork for a truly durable marriage.
Finding your happily ever after is rarely a question of pure luck, nor is it something you do one time and can then forget about. Building a happy marriage takes effort, compromise, and the knowledge necessary to make it work. Mistakes, once made, can be very difficult to reverse, so consider attempting pre-marriage couples therapy to avoid the worst, most common pitfalls.
Are you ready to get your marriage and future off to a great start? The benefits of premarital counseling will become evident the longer you are married. Why not reach out to BetterHelp to be matched with a licensed marriage and family therapist?
If you are worried about premarital counseling cost in comparison with the benefits you will receive, BetterHelp offers a subscription plan which will help you budget your money for future family therapist sessions.
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