Love and Marriage
Cherish and Honor Forever
Til Death Do Us Part
Sharing Dreams and Life Goals
Growing Old Together
You’re in love and you’re getting married! Congratulations! You’re spending endless hours on planning a special wedding, a day that will be your most treasured memory in the years to come. You have so much to talk about. You’re getting to know each other better every day. It’s one of the most exciting times in your lives. Oh sure, you know every marriage has its ups and downs. But you’ll manage those when they come. Why worry about it now? Or maybe you aren’t actually getting married, but are moving in together and committing to a long-term exclusive relationship. Same emotions and anticipation.
AND THAT’S THE WAY IT SHOULD BE
Falling in love and getting married should be a blissful and exciting time. But marriage is more than a wedding. Would you expect your perfect wedding day to go off without a hitch if you didn’t invest time and money in planning it? Of course not. What about giving that kind of attention to planning your marriage? Recent research findings show that “couples who seek pre-marital counseling have lower divorce rates and higher levels of marital quality” (Fawcitt et. al, 2010). Other researchers (Carroll and Doherty, 2003) found that couples who seek pre-marital counseling fare 79 percent better in the areas of “enhanced communication and conflict skills, more commitment to one’s mate, greater positivity in marriage, and reduced chances for divorce.”
THINK OF PRE-MARITAL COUNSELING AS PLANNING YOUR MARRIAGE
Pre-marital counseling cannot promise to divorce-proof your marriage, but it can minimize the likelihood of falling into the 50% of marriages that end in divorce in this country. It can help make sure you are aware of and understand each other’s attitude regarding some of the more common issues that cause marital conflict and dissatisfaction. And you can learn valuable skills to enhance your marital happiness.
Common phrases I hear from couples who seek marriage therapy are:
- “If I had only known . . .”
- “It didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time.”
- “I saw the red flags, but ignored them.”
- "I had no idea s/he felt that way about . . . .”
- “We never talked about it . . .”
Don’t let this be you. Be pro-active. Anticipate problem areas before they arise.
Some of the areas you can expect to explore during pre-marital counseling include:
- What are your basic beliefs about marriage and what do you expect from each other?
- How similar are your views and philosophies about life in general?
- Do you have the same values and goals in life?
- What roles do you each expect to play in the marriage?
- Do you plan to have children? What kind of parenting style do you endorse? The transition to parenthood is another life event that requires careful preparation. Much advice is available about how to take care of your baby, but you must also know how to take care of your marriage during this time.
- How will you manage money? Who will be responsible for paying bills, setting budgets, investing, etc? Do you have similar viewpoints about how much to spend and how much to save?
- What are your work/career goals? Is one of you more ambitious than the other?
- What are your common interests? Do you share lifestyle values (exercise, diet, self-care) and enjoy similar leisure time activities?
- How effectively do you handle conflict? This is a “big deal” issue. Poor management of conflict is highly predictive of divorce. Learning effective conflict skills can save you a lot of heartache in the future.
- Do you know how to maintain healthy boundaries with family members and friends? Are there potential in-law problems? If so, how will you handle them?
- How will you celebrate special occasions and holidays? Who will be included?
- How will you keep romance, passion, and playfulness alive in your relationship? Don’t make the mistake of assuming it will always be there if you don’t fan the flames.
- Who will be responsible for household chores? Will you share them? How will you decide who does what?
- What are your major differences in personality and temperament, e.g., introverted/extroverted, neat/messy, prompt/chronically late, etc?
- How similar or different are your backgrounds, education, families-or-origin?
- Are you able to communicate your needs and desires to each other in a healthy way?
- Any other specific issues or concerns that are unique to your particular relationship.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How Long Does Pre-Marital Counseling Take and How Much Will It Cost?
The number of sessions typically vary from two to six weekly sessions. Each session lasts approximately 50-55 minutes. The number of session will depend on how many topics you wish to cover and the skills you feel are important to learn. You might want to take a look at my Marriage Counseling page to learn about other potential pitfalls. There is no cookie-cutter approach. We will develop a counseling plan that is suited to your needs.
The cost is $125 for the first session and $110 for subsequent sessions. Some couples are including a pre-marital counseling fund in their gift registry. What better gift than a contribution to your future happiness!
Is Pre-Marital Counseling Only for Couples Getting Married?
No. Pre-marital counseling can also benefit couples who are moving in together and making a commitment to a long-term exclusive relationship.
Is Pre-Marital Counseling Appropriate Only for First-Time Marriages?
No. In fact, it is even more important for those who are marrying for a second or third time. These marriages frequently involve the blending of families, which present challenges not experienced in first-time marriages. I have included a separate webpage on Blended Family Counseling.
SET THE RIGHT TONE FOR YOUR FUTURE TOGETHER
I can provide you a safe non-judgmental space and professional guidance as you prepare for this exciting time in your life. If you would like to schedule an appointment, visit my contact page here. If you still have questions or reservations, I’m happy to schedule a free 15-minute consult or, if you prefer, you may send your questions to me via e-mail.