First, you might be asking yourself, “why would I want premarital counseling?” My partner and I have a great relationship. I mean we are planning on getting married. Why would we do that if our relationship is already wonderful?”
People marry for many reasons but having a great relationship is not always one of those reasons. Premarital counseling prepares you for marriage. It inoculates your relationship from being worn down by problems and distress through identify the strengths and growing edges of your relationship. Identifying potential problem areas earlier can prevent you from the devastation of divorce. The average national divorce rate in the united states is 48%. Divorce is devasting for individuals and families. It takes a toll on your self-esteem, your children, your career, and your wallet. In many cases, couples can grow through these difficult areas and develop an even better relationship with each other. Before you plan that expensive wedding or honeymoon invest in your relationship first.
Premarital Counseling: How does it Work?
Being in a partnership is both wonderful and growth producing. Unfortunately, couples can get stuck, and without assistance, they stay mired down in the same old patterns creating feelings of frustration and hopeless that will erode the relationship over time.
Premarital counseling will vary depending on the person that you work with, but I recommend that the counseling cover at least the following areas. An initial assessment that identifies your strengths and growing edges as a couple. This information provides knowledge about the strengths you can rely on in tough times and provide you with information about where your relationship needs further development to minimize unnecessary stress.
Main Areas to Cover Premarital Counseling
There are three main areas that couples need to explore. The first is the strength and depth of their friendship with each other. The second is how they manage conflict. The third is the create meaning together. Negative conflict patterns that occur are replaced with positive interactions and to repair past hurts. Skills taught that increase closeness and intimacy in addition to improving the friendship, deepening the emotional connection, and creating changes that enhance shared goals.
Skills are taught that manage the problems and prevent couples from lapsing into old patterns that were less effective in the past for them. Premarital therapy teaches couples to disarm conflicting verbal communicating effectively. Exercises assist in increasing intimacy, respect, and affection. Barriers are then removed from conflicting situations which can create a heightened sense of empathy and understanding within the context of the relationship allow it grow an nourish both individuals.
In premarital therapy, the exploration of each other’s inner world, history, worries, stresses, joys, and hopes occur. Skills to prevent behaviors such as contempt, criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and flooding that predict divorce are mastered.
You learn to identify and meet your partner’s bids for attention and how to get your bids for attention met in a healthy way in everyday life. A positive approach to problem-solving is practiced. Most importantly how to successfully repair with your partner when things go wrong, which of course they inevitably will.
You learn the difference in how to handle perpetual problems versus solvable ones. That is important because about 67% of the problems between couples are perpetual. You will learn to “manage” conflict rather than “resolve” conflict because relationship conflict is natural and has functional, positive aspects.
You learn to create an atmosphere that encourages each person to talk honestly about his or her hopes, values, convictions and aspirations. In premarital counseling, you will learn to act and think to maximize your partner’s best interests and benefits. In other words, we have each other’s back and are there for each other.
Premarital counseling is about being “all in” in your relationship with each other. It is learning to cherish your partner’s positive qualities and nurturing gratitude by comparing the partner favorably with real or imagined others, rather than trashing the partner by magnifying negative qualities, and nurturing resentment by comparing unfavorably with real or imagined others.
Premarital counseling can save and preserve a marriage before it has ever started. Beautiful weddings produce wonderful memories but no matter how beautiful a home it will not stay standing without a solid foundation. Marital therapy provides you with that foundation.