Why Do Premarital Counseling?
by Bekke Abe
Statistics shows that divorce affects a variety of couples. It affects those who share the same religious beliefs, who are educated or not educated, the rich, the poor, the young, the old, those with children, and those living in the city or living out in the country. So, in the midst of the rising divorce rate, the question then arises: Why get married? Why is marriage important?
As couples get further into their relationship and their love starts to deepen, they start to think about whether or not to take the next step, which is marriage. Figuring out how to handle preparing for talking about marriage, children, finances, in-laws, and other personal problems, can trigger anxiety, worries, and doubts.
So, what do couples think about when it comes to taking the next step?
- How do I know if we are meant for each other?
- Is my partner’s value and beliefs aligned with mine?
- What is the big plan? Do we want children? Where do we want to live?
- What is the expectation in regard to time spent with extended family?
- What things do I not know about my partner?
So, what things should one start thinking about when it comes to taking that next step?
Things to think about before getting married:
- Think about the reason you feel that this person is the one. For example, think about things your partner does that might make you lose your respect for them, such as alcohol problems, drugs, lying, mismanagement of finances, etc. Are these areas of concern already an issue for you?
- Think about why your past relationships had failed. For example, if conflicts were the reason for past relationships to end, how would you handle conflicts in your present relationship?
- Think about long term commitments. For example, if you have debts or school loans, are you making payments over a course of years?
- Think about your current level of commitment. For example, do you see yourself going through “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death” with your partner?
How to work through the fears of getting married:
- Commitment-phobia is real. This fear is often based on violation of love and trust, such as abuse, affairs, etc., which may have had a traumatic impact. “There are many reasons to avoid getting emotionally involved with another person. You just need to ask yourself if your reasons are good ones and why you may be holding yourself back from allowing someone to touch your heart.” (Goldsmith, B., Ph.D., “Understanding and dealing with commitment-phobia.”)
- Open up to your partner about your fears. Holding back can hurt your relationship. “Communicating with your partner is about relating to him or her; it is about two people openly sharing who they are with one another in ways that are not critical or judgmental.” (Goldsmith, R., “6 ways holding back can hurt your relationship.”)
- Work on building trust in the relationship. “Even if you feel like you know each other well, there’s always more things to learn about your partner – especially before getting married. If you two plans to tie the knot soon, you should be asking each other questions to make sure you’re both on the same page, while also opening up about any ‘secrets’ you may have.” (Steber, C., “11 subtle things your partner should know about you if you think you want to marry them.”)
Things one can do to ease feelings of anxiety, doubts, and worries:
- Do some relaxation techniques. Meditation mindfulness and yoga exercises can help ease anxiety. Click to view video: “Mindfulness Meditation Instruction” Click to view video: “Yoga for Complete Beginners: 20 Minute Home Yoga Workout”
- Journal your thoughts. “One of the most useful things you can do to combat stress and anxiety is keep a running record of your thoughts on paper.” (Markway, B., Ph.D., “How to keep a thought diary to combat anxiety.”)
- Find a therapist that provides premarital counseling.
Find a therapist who does premarital counseling:
- Therapist that provides a safe space for couples to talk about issues that might frequently come up in their relationship. For example, religious beliefs, parenting styles, finances, in-laws, etc.
- Therapist that provides a safe space for couples to talk about things that they would not normally talk about, such as past experiences, sex, and expectations.
- Therapist that provides couples with skills and tools in utilizing effective communication skills, such as conflict resolution skills, “I” statements, active listening, and reflective responses.
- Therapist that assist couples in talking about finances, debts, outstanding loans, banking, and issues that might arise from paying for wedding.
“Some studies suggest that couples who have pre-marital counseling have a lower divorce rate than other couples…” and “further, these couples who take the plunge into pre-marital counseling feel that there’s nothing wrong with getting help prior to making such an enormous commitment.” (Meyers, S., Psy.D., “Benefits of Pre-Marital counseling: Successful marriage.”)
If you both need assistance in identifying conflicts, working out finances, and discussing parenting styles, career goals, family dynamics, religion, and values, Sync Counseling Center can provide a safe space for you and your partner to talk and explore those concerns.