Premarital Counseling: Prevent Divorce Before Getting Married

Many of us dream that our weddings will end in choruses of
“And they lived Happily Ever After” as white doves fly in waves about the procession outside of the ceremony. Life is complete bliss. There are no worries or problems with only the strength of your undying love to bind you closer to your new spouse. But when the fairy dust fades and the bills roll in, along with the ever-necessary housework, constant obligations at the office, or you and your spouse are in a disagreement about spending habits, are you still in bliss?

According to Divorce Magazine, nearly 50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Divorces may result from a number of factors, including differences in age, religion, occupation, race, money, working environment and commitment, the impact of children, and even current events. Even if you and your mate are comfortable with all or most of these issues, much can change in the next few years. The way to combat divorce is to treat it like a potential infectious disease- beef up your immune system through preventative medicine. The preventative medicine of divorce and marital problems is learning the tools to effectively communicate, understand, and compromise with your partner.

Pre-marital counseling offers training in the tools that not only mend by also prevent marital issues. Counselors are there to be your
instructor in these matters and make the transition to married life in the real world easier and enjoyable. You will gain the skills for needed to strengthen your chances of staying together.

“Pre-marital counseling is a wonderful way to prepare, not
only for your wedding, but for your life together as well,” explains Dr. Gail Smith, counselor and minister in San Diego. “Even if you have been together for many years, a few sessions of counseling gives you a chance to look at what you want as a couple.”

Overview: What Will I
Get Out of It?

Pre-marital counseling provides couples with the structure
for investing their time, energy, heart, and soul into what a commitment of this magnitude calls for. Often in the hustle and bustle of daily life we become absorbed with immediate and practical needs and issues while the less-urgent yet more important issues fall on the backburner. Premarital counseling helps couples to appreciate the value of talking over issues with a trusted third party prior to marriage. When the inevitable challenges of married life arise, couples who have undergone counseling are better equipped to combat and win the battle.

The Influenza of
Marriage- Getting the Vaccine before It Hits

The trick to conquering the influenza of marriage is starting early. Regardless of how long a couple has been together, they are still in the building stage of their marriage. This is the time to bring to the
foreground each others’ expectations of the commitment to each other in all realms, how each envision married life, and what each partner pictures for their future. If there are discrepancies (which there most often are!), then this is the time to find them.

Counseling helps you and your partner recognize where you
both stand on a variety of issues and your existing ability to communicate with each other. Through sessions, a couple not only becomes aware of each others’ perceptions and expectations of your future together, but both learn priceless communication skills to work through disagreements and errs that may arise.

Rev. Jon Connor Ph.D. reflects that, “Premarital counseling
helps try to focus on the relationship, not the event of the weddingâÂ?¦ it gets couples to focus upon the relationship in itself as opposed to the event of your wedding day.”

The Process: What to Expect

A session with a premarital counselor will vary depending upon your needs, the situation, and the counselor’s style or background. Many
counselors will use religion as a backbone which helps focus the direction of the meeting. Others may reference spirituality rather than a particular religious practice.

“I usually begin with the five basic love needs of husbands and wives, which of course are different,” said Rev. Lois, a nondenominational minister and licensed family counselor. “When you meet the love needs of your spouse, you build the foundation of a great marriage.”

A typical session with Dr. Gail Smith will include the couple writing down a list of 25 things they each feel they are bringing into the marriage as a husband and wife. This follows by making a list of what they expect their future spouse to bring into the relationship. She feels that “It is a way to release the past, old relationships, and even family opinions so that you may begin your new lives together with the same vision for your future.”

When working with interfaith couples, Rabbi Ian takes a slightly different approach. “I look for commonality in the couple. In most
cases, God is the common denominator and we build from there.”

Those of the Roman Catholic faith who wish to be married through the Church are required to partake in their form of pre-marital counseling called Pre-Cana. The Pre-Cana, as it is called, is a marriage preparation program based in the Roman Catholic Church and structured according to the needs or preferences of the community. Pre-Cana is a series of sessions involving two married couples, a priest, and often a medical doctor. It is an interactive
learning process in a large group setting that keeps their faith in the
forefront of the discussions. The programs of “Engaged Encounter” and the weekly “Evenings for the Engaged” sessions are also a part of the program.

Regardless of focus, background, or denomination, all counselors will try to engage the couple in a variety of activities that flush
out inherent expectations of one-another, views on a range of issues that may arise in married life, and develop communicative strategies that aid in drawing connections at present and building armor for the future.

Regardless of focus, background, or denomination, all counselors will try to engage the couple in a variety of activities that flush
out inherent expectations of one-another, views on a range of issues that may arise in married life, and develop communicative strategies that aid in drawing connections at present and building armor for the future.

Taking it All In

You are probably asking yourself, is pre-marital counseling
for me? This is the point where you and your fianc�© should step back and evaluate the situation fully. How good is your communication? How have the two of you tackled problems as a team? Have you addressed potentially-hurtful or serious topics that may arise during your life together? If you have trouble talking through the issues in your lives, the guidance of a trusted third party may help. Every marriage presents difficulties and obstacles, and the most effective tool to overcome them is communication.

Where to Go

Check first with your officiant, since many are also licensed therapists and family counselors. Many will aid in additional aspects of the wedding planning process and would therefore know you and your spouse that much better.

If you attend a place of worship, talk to your priest, pastor, or other religious official. They will also have much experience in this area and may know you much better than those in the phone book.

Contact the American Association of Marriage and Family
Therapy at www.aamft.org or call (703) 838-9808 to find a licensed family therapist near you.

If you have insurance, counseling may be covered. Contact your insurance provider for details and all you may need to worry about is the co-pay.

If you are low on funds after planning the wedding, many community centers, colleges, or clinics will offer low-cost services or offer classes on building a successful marriage.

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