Though many people these days forego premarital counseling, you took the step. Why? Because you wanted to gain insight into the dynamics of your relationship before you get married.
It was a wise decision.
During the counseling sessions, you discuss various important topics:
Finances – You talk about your debts and plans to pay them off. You consider your monthly budget and bill paying. In everything, you stay open and honest.
In-laws – You discuss how far you’d be willing to compromise to make your extended families happy. You exchange views on keeping a balance between respect for your parents and remaining your own separate family.
Children – You discuss having children. How many and when…
Wait. Did your partner just say they don’t really want any children?
How can that be?
Having a family is one of your biggest dreams for your future together! You imagined several children running around the yard of your beautiful home.
You feel completely blindsided by the fact that you’re not on the same page on this important topic. You wonder how this could be happening.
Premarital Counseling Doesn’t Just Help You See if You Are on the Same Page. It Brings to Light Those Areas Where You Aren't on the Same Page.
When you discuss matters honestly and openly in counseling sessions, you must be prepared to hear the truth and nothing but the truth. But don’t overreact when you encounter possible problems and don’t see eye to eye. Premarital counseling is not just designed to make sure you are on the same page. It can help you look at differences as an opportunity. You can learn to resolve problems, communicate well, and get on the same page, too.
How exactly does premarital counseling help in these situations?
Pre-marital counseling strengthens communication and problem-solving skills
In fact, good communication is a key component of a successful marriage. You will need this skill during times you agree as well as moments when you disagree. Most of all, problem-solving skills will help you work through your minor and major issues as a team.
You see, compatibility doesn’t just mean that you agree all the time. It means that you can approach disagreements together in a harmonious and unifying way. This requires empathic, loving, open, and respectful communication. It also calls for understanding, patience, and forgiveness.
While you are two individuals, premarital counseling can help you learn to be in one relationship. Aside from defining the qualities each of you would like in your mate, it will also help you take a good look at your own qualities. Also, it will help you consider how you can contribute to the success of your marriage.
Don’t be fooled into thinking your marriage will stay exactly the same from the wedding forward. It evolves with time. The exhilarating feelings of the honeymoon phase usually wear off within the first two years. So, you have to prepare for that moment – when reality sets in and the euphoria wears off. By that time, you want to be used to living together and combining your individual styles well in order to remain happy.
Premarital counseling can help you do all of that.
So, what about the discord you’ve discovered during counseling – perhaps your conflicting opinions about wanting children or some other big issue? Can it be overcome? Does it seem to be such a fundamental difference of values and principles that it is hard for you to imagine ever getting on the same page?
Well, it all depends on a few factors: (1) How deeply entrenched your different opinions are, (2) how likely the possibility is that your opinions may change, and (3) how willing both of you are to compromise on the issue.
Strong communication skills will allow you avoid becoming defensive and stay open to exploring what lies behind your differences. For example, in the case of whether or not to have children, you may learn that your partner has insecurities about their ability to be a good parent. Perhaps they lacked good role models in their own childhood.
You may decide to talk to other couples with children to get a realistic view of what parenthood is really all about. Your partner may be able to overcome their fears and move forward with you.
Even if you discover an irresolvable difference that you are unable to overcome, it's much easier to deal with before the wedding than after.
Make good use of your premarital counseling sessions and the skills you learn. Discuss the matter in depth, consider how it will affect your lives, and work together on finding a realistic solution.