After you say ‘Yes!’ but before you say ‘I Do’, there are plenty of wonderful things to think about. There are however some serious factors you should consider as well, and not all will come to mind initially with all the excitement going on. Planning a wedding and preparing for a marriage are drastically different, but should definitely come as a pair.
‘Premarital Counseling’ is a type of therapy that will help you and your partner prepare for a lifetime together. It can help you avoid any unexpected disagreements about important decisions you will inevitably face. It’s reassuring to know from an experienced outsider that you have an honest and healthy relationship before you are joined together in matrimony. Though you don’t need approval from a professional, it can’t hurt to take advantage of their knowledge and listen to their input.
It is a sensible decision that can leave you more prepared for the future than ever before. It’s common to feel some form of hesitation when you approach the subject of ‘counseling’, but you should give this a chance. People most often associate therapies with a current problem. However, in this case it is preventative rather than reactionary. It is crucial that you are both aware what is expected by the other before you’re legally bound to one another. It’s better to discuss these things now, rather than three kids down the line.
Premarital counseling will help you and your partner to recognize any weaknesses in your relationship. Though this may sound like a negative point, doing this allows you to discover and fix any problems together, thus making you stronger as a couple. Without facing up to potential disagreements prior to marriage, you could end up with more than an average night of bickering. Addressing significant issues now will give you your best chance for a stable and fulfilling life together.
If you and your loved one want to reinforce the foundation of your relationship, this is the way to do it. If you do come across any problems (which every couple has at some point), it’s better to face them sooner rather than later. Talking things out and seeking advice is something most of us do with our friends anyway, so why not do the same with a licensed therapist? Premarital counseling is usually offered through religious institution and it’s often a requirement of the church that you attend sessions anyway.
Sharing this experience will deepen your understanding of one another, and therefore tighten your bond. Though it may be a little nerve-wracking to enter into, proactively identifying possible topics of conflict now will save you an agonizing heartbreak in the future (and who wants that?). Any successful couple will tell you that the trick to a happy and harmonious lifestyle is open communication. Laying everything out on the table is the smartest way a marriage could start out.
There are different ways of approach depending on where you seek your sessions. Many topics can be addressed during your counseling. They may differ but here are some general topics you can expect to cover:
What marriage means to you:
Why get married? What does committing to a marriage mean to you? Why did you choose this person to spend your life with?
Your Expectations of each other:
What do you expect of a partner in marriage? When it comes to emotional support, dealing with illness, dealing with job loss, what do you anticipate? Do you agree on the time needed alone/together/with friends/family/working? Do you both want to support your family or will you divide yourselves between working and raising children (if you choose to have any)?
Your Life Goals:
What are your life goals, and do have any of the same with your partner? What if your life goals are different? Will you be able to compromise?
Do you both want kids, and if so, how many? How long would you like to be married before starting a family? What type of disciplinary rules would you apply to raising your children? Do you agree on the values you want to pass on to them? Is abortion an option for any reason? If one of you was infertile, what would be your next step?
Finances and the future
Are you comfortable with each other’s salaries? Will you join your checking accounts, or keep them separate? How will you resolve disagreements on spending money? Do you agree to have full financial disclosure about personal spending and debt, both now and later? Who will pay the bills? What’s the plan for paying for your children’s educations? Do you agree on a retirement plan?
Do you plan to live near family? What kind of home do you see yourself creating? How will you determine if a job-offer is a good enough reason to move? Do you want to stay in one place for a long time?
Time spent with family
Are you aware of each other’s family dynamic? How much time do you require the other to spend with your own family? How do you plan to spend holidays? Is it ok for you to share your relationship problems with your parents? What kind of relationship do you expect your kids to have with their grandparents? When a parent grows old, will they live with you?
Gender Role Expectations
Were you raised with traditional gender roles, and what do you expect of each other within the home? How will you share responsibilities of childcare, household chores, and taking care of finances? Do both of you expect to work if you have children? If so, if your children get sick, how will you decide who is going to stay home and take care of them?
Sex, monogamy and Intimate moments
If you have disagreements about the content or frequency of your sex life, how will you resolve it? Is anything completely off-limits sexually? Do you agree to be honest and discuss concerns with one another during an appropriate time? How much alone time would you like? Will you make the time to keep romance alive after children? Do you agree to be monogamous throughout your marriage? Do you agree that emotional affairs are equally as damaging as sexual ones? What would be the consequences of an affair?
Religion and Spiritual Life
Are you aware of your partner’s beliefs? What does spirituality mean to each of you? How will you share something meaningful to you with your partner? Do you agree on how your children will be educated and brought up religiously? If not, how will you decide?
Resolving heated arguments
How do you plan to settle your differences? How did your parents or carers do it? Are you prepared to deal with each others upset or anger? Will you reach out and attempt to problem solve after a fight? Can you have time apart to think about solutions?
You deserve an honest, trustworthy, patient love, in good times and in bad. Don’t be worried about embarking on your pre-marriage counseling if you choose to take it. Only positive outcomes and progression can come from truth. If you and your future husband or wife are meant to be, nothing will come between you. You are on your way to a blissful marriage.