Getting engaged is an exciting time! Why come down from Cloud 9 to discuss potential problems, right? Wrong! Now is the perfect time to discuss your needs in the relationship, including how they might be different from your partner’s needs and lead to conflict. You would check the foundation of a house before you buy it, and make repairs as needed before you move in. The same can be said of your marriage – you will have a stronger relationship if you identify and make adjustments before you sign on the dotted line.
Here are just a few reasons premarital counseling is a must-have for your relationship:
Getting Things Out in the Open
Even though you may have spent years with your fiancé (or fiancée) leading up to the engagement, believe it or not, there can be things you still don’t know about him or her. For instance, some people expect their partner to stop working after marriage, or you might expect your new husband to handle the bills since that is how your parents handled things. During all the time you dated, these expectations might have remained tacit, unspoken. Other issues like child rearing, how often you expect sex, how you feel about taking out credit, etc., also need to be addressed, but you can often put off the discussions because they get uncomfortable. Premarital counseling is a forum where every issue can be put on the table and discussed.
Receiving Impartial Advice
As a member of your relationship, you might not even notice that you and your partner have certain fundamental differences. Premarital counseling lets you sit with your partner and an impartial, non-judgmental counselor who will be able to identify and talk to you about areas where they see a potential issue. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with your partner on issues, as long as you can come to compromise! Your counselor gives you an impartial assessment of how you might address your differences and doesn’t create a “right” or “wrong” list; she guides you in determining the right path as a couple.
Learning Coping Techniques
Now that you and your partner have called out the areas where you agree and those where you disagree, and your counselor has pointed out the things that might create an issue – it is time to sort out how you will confront conflict. Learning each other’s communication styles, emotional triggers, and traumas is key to long-term success. Even with a road map of expectations, at some point someone will change their mind about what they expect, or a bump in the road will occur. Pre-marriage counseling arms you with healthy communication techniques for coping with conflict and remaining bonded through hard times.
Creating a secure and safe haven in the relationship is a priority for long-term success. If you are engaged and planning to tie the knot, add the pre-marriage counseling to your wedding to-do list.
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653