By now, you surely know the sage advice:
Don’t spend more time planning your wedding than planning your marriage.
Thanks to premarital counseling, an increasing number of couples are now heeding these words of wisdom. Somewhere between, “Will you marry me?” and “I do,” men and women are accepting the huge responsibility of being true partners in a committed relationship.
How Can Premarital Counseling Help Your Relationship?
Doing the important work before you walk down the aisle means you and your significant other must tackle deep issues like:
- Starting a family (or not)
- Finances and lifestyle expectations
- In-laws and other extended family members
- Sex and intimacy
- Long-term compatibility
Some new couples like to boast that they “never fight,” but, verbalized or not, conflict is inevitable. Handled well, it can even be an essential part of your growth as a couple.
Avoiding struggle is a recipe for trouble. Accepting that disagreements loom in your future doesn’t negate the positives in your relationship. It simply puts you in position to do powerful preventative work—especially on volatile or sensitive issues like those listed above.
In premarital counseling, you’ll explore what brought you together and what brings you to the brink of marriage vows. You’ll remind yourselves what you appreciate about each other and begin practicing invaluable conflict resolution skills that will keep evolving.
3 Important Things Premarital Counseling Can’t Do for Your Relationship
1. It can’t provide any kind of issue-free guarantee
There are very few guarantees in life. However, in marriage, one such guarantee is clear: not doing the work will soon lead to problems.
Premarital counseling can go a long way toward strengthening your relationship foundation. But it will not guarantee a future free of conflict (nor should it). On the contrary, it’s entirely based on managing the inevitability of spousal disagreements. Your willingness to face challenges together is vital.
2. Premarital counseling doesn’t mean the work is done
Pro tip: The work is never done…and that’s a really good thing. In a way, the work is the relationship. Having a strong foundation to stand upon gives you a place from which to launch the work. It’s like when you join a gym. You don’t train hard, get fit, and then stop exercising. The work is daily and the workload increases. The goals are fluid. The journey is the destination.
3. It will not “fix” all your problems
Nothing will “fix” all your problems. This is not a realistic goal and, if anything, it’s actually a dangerous distraction. Your marriage is a process and thus, it’s more about ongoing evolution than a long-term solution. We must be careful to not become perfectionists or to mistake progress for a final result.
What’s the Missing Link?
The short answer is communication. The long answer is healthy communication. Premarital counseling can be a super helpful tool that helps build a communication bridge from the early days of your marriage to your toughest seasons. The lessons won’t go out of style.
Healthy communication can help a couple:
- Manage unexpected crises
- Stay connected
- Plan better for next time
- Deepen their bond
- Navigate separation or illness
- Set boundaries and renegotiate them when necessary
We use such skills in other settings—work situations, sports competitions, health emergencies, and so on—but the emotions within a marriage can hamper our problem-solving skills. What tightens focus? You guessed it: compassionate, continual communication.
Get the Help and the Guidance to Cover All the Bases
There’s more good news. An experienced and qualified therapist will serve the dual purpose of providing premarital counseling while encouraging the development of stop-gap communication skills.
It’s a delicate balance but the same can be said about a healthy relationship. Pre-wedding counseling sessions are a safe space for couples. You can ask the tough questions, practice resolution techniques, and hone crucial communication skills.
The key to premarital counseling is to see it as a reality check. Love and marriage is not a fairy tale. Therefore, we need real-life training to be prepared. Investigate my premarital counseling specialty page for more information and contact me for a consultation before the big day.