PRE-MARRIAGE COUNSELING – ARE YOU READY TO COMMIT?
Premarital counseling can help you improve your relationship before you marry. It will give you the opportunity to examine topics that need discussion, clarification and compromise. In the quiet moments of your life have you had concerns over finances; communication, beliefs and values; affection, loyalty and sex; roles and responsibilities in the marriage; children and parenting; extended family relationships; decision-making and compromise; anger management; free time spent together/apart. Many people in relationships have similar concerns. What is important is that they are addressed not ignored!
Discussing your differences and expectations before you marry helps you better to understand and emotionally to support one another. Did you know that the risk of divorce is highest early in a marriage, but it is lessened through early intervention, such as engagement and premarital counseling?
Speaking with your partner in the presence of a professionally trained counselor will help to prepare you for marriage. As you learn to communicate more effectively, to establish realistic expectations for your marriage, and to develop conflict-resolution skills, you will have a better chance of a stable and satisfying marriage. In addition this can help you to identify weaknesses that can become problematic during your marriage.
Each of you brings your own values, perspectives and life experiences into your relationship. However, it is important to remember that they do not always align in spite of this fact you can actively strengthen this relationship! When you focus on improving communication through respectful interactions and a willingness to compromise you are doing this.
Have you been thinking of the following issues and been hesitant to address them:
- Preoccupied that everything is “wonderful” until there is a fight?
- Have no idea how to disagree in a fair, productive way?
- Feeling unappreciated too often?
- Worried that you came from a broken home?
- Fearful that “recreational” substances have crept seductively into your lives?
- Stressed that you and your partner had poor role models for marriage, commitment and compromise?
- Fearful you are going to repeat the very patterns that caused you pain?
- Uncertain how you will resolve your differences over finances, communication, values?
If your answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” I encourage you to break the cycle of negativity and learn what it takes to have a successful marriage. The good news is that historically negative repetitions can be replaced by patterns of behavior supportive of healthy marital relationships. Through pre-marital counseling you will learn how to identify your strengths, weaknesses and potential areas of conflict. You will be helped to understand how each of you contributes to the difficulties, what you can do to respond in a productive, rather than customary, way. You will be guided to discuss your unique visions and concerns for your marriage and learn how to work proactively from there.
A survey published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that couples who participated in premarital education reported higher levels of satisfaction in addition to a thirty percent decline in the probability of divorce over five years. Are things sounding more hopeful? I hope so.
Many people entering into marriage feel that love is the most important factor impacting on marital happiness. They often think that love will be instrumental in resolving most problems. However, as many of us have seen, this is not the most important determinant in marital happiness.
A successful marriage or relationship depends upon each partner’s making the union of primary importance in his/her life. Despite disagreements, respect, kindness and compromise need to be central to their interactions. Familiarity often results in partners taking one another for granted with their thoughts and feelings aligning in the direction of “This is what she/he does! “ Unfortunately, what generally ensues is an atmosphere of expectation and entitlement, rather than one of appreciation. This is a recipe for resentment, strained communication and disappointment. If you haven not noticed, the only thing that resentment begets is more of the same!
Premarital counseling will help you to establish a stronger, healthier foundation upon which to build your future. Through this experience you can move from a place of being stuck to one where together you have created an atmosphere characterized by loving commitment, compromise and the promise of a more satisfying life.
Have some questions, concerns or worries? This is a good thing since they do not magically disappear! Be proactive and protect the love that brought you together. Make decisions that are good for you and your future, not ones that are made by default!