I see many couples who come to me and sometimes have a multitude of different struggles, sometimes problems that have existed for years, and they are just now seeking out help and support. It is a courageous decision to seek out help from an outside person to work on the issues that are occurring in your relationship and for many it can be the best decision they have made. That said, I often find that there are many reasons to consider counseling for you and your partner before getting married. Some studies show a lower divorce rate in couples that seek out support via couples counseling before saying “I do.” So why should you consider premarital counseling for you and your partner?
1.) YOU WILL MANAGE YOUR CONFLICTS BETTER WHICH WILL HELP YOU LIKE EACH OTHER MORE
According to the research from Dr. John Gottman, one of the primary reasons people break up or end in divorce is due to built up resentment from unresolved conflict. Sure, it is normal to fight, but fights that end up in screaming matches (or, the flipside, if you and your partner avoid conflict) it can result in feelings of toxic resentment towards their partner and the relationship.
Pre-marital counseling can help you and your partner learn how to express your needs and wants, learn how to listen to your partner more effectively and increase understanding. The sooner you start to practice better communication, the better off you will be in the long-term. And, you have a better chance of feeling more love and satisfaction in your relationship as well.
2.) YOU WILL DISCUSS THE IMPORTANT TOPICS
In the beginning of any relationship, it feels easy and exciting and you cannot envision any problems arising between the two of you. Fast forward to years down the road and one of you wants to move back to their small town they grew up in in order to raise a family and you cannot stand living in small-town America. This is where the reality of who you are as individuals and your expectations and dreams start to come to the surface. As you can imagine, it’s important to discuss these ideas, expectations and dreams before you decide to spend the rest of your lives together.
One of the things I do in my practice is to guide you through conversations around important topics when considering marriage: finances, in-laws, children, sex, chores around the house, extramarital friendships in order to get clarity about what you want and need and to see if they match your partners needs/wants/expectations. Knowing these in advance can help you work through these topics and help you decide if this relationship is for the long-haul.
3.) YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AND YOUR RELATIONSHIP MORE FULFILLING
Often I hear these horrible things about marriage and long-term relationships, things like “You will never have sex again after marriage and children.” “You will only be with one person the rest of your life and you will get bored, are you sure you want to do this?” These kinds of statements are toxic and stigmatize marriage. When, the truth is, relationships and marriage have the potential to be quite wonderful and rewarding and even a vehicle for personal growth and transformation.
In counseling, you can explore your lifelong dreams with your partner, listen to feedback about what would help make your partnership better, discuss your desires and fantasies, share your life experiences, all in a safe, supportive environment. By doing so, you can start to see how a relationship isn’t just obligations and checking off the boxes on a to do list, it can also be an opportunity to grow, learn, connect, love and work together in partnership. We don’t learn everything in a vacuum all by ourselves, connection and partnership offers up the unique chance to grow as a person. And therapy can be a way to explore these thoughts and feelings with your partner.
These are just a few examples of how pre-marital counseling can be of help and benefit to you and your partner or even if you are dating and are encountering challenges. Therapy can be a helpful and support way to work through what the two of you are facing and hopefully move you towards a healthier and more fulfilling direction.