Just got engaged? Premarital counseling is most likely the last thing on your mind. It seems so unromantic. After all, who wants to go digging up potential problems with their relationship during this exciting, heady time? Surely only couples whose relationship is in trouble would consider counseling?
Well, the harsh fact is that almost 50% of all marriages in the United States currently end in separation or divorce. However, according to a survey published in the Journal of Family Psychology, couples who undergo some form of premarital education reported higher levels of marital satisfaction and experienced a 31% decline in the likelihood of divorce over five years.
While you’re planning your wedding, you should also be preparing equally thoroughly for your marriage. All couples can benefit from premarital counseling, not just those in trouble, or whose religion requires it.
Here are 5 compelling reasons why premarital counseling isn’t just a nice-to-have – it could be a marriage-saver in the long run!
You’ll address the “big issues” early on.
It’s so easy to get swept away in a romantic ideal before tying the knot. Often, couples may even end up avoiding those big, practical discussions about children or long-term finances, etc. altogether until well after the wedding day. By then, it’s a bit late to find out you’re on different wavelengths! These topics are so important to confront early on, and can often be highly emotive. A trained professional can help you approach these discussions positively and keep you on track.
You’ll learn crucial conflict resolution skills.
By now, you’re pretty likely to have had a falling out or two, and you know how hard it can be to deal with conflict in a mature, productive way. All couples fight from time to time – the trick is knowing how to fight! If tackled badly, conflicts can lead to a buildup of resentment and anger, all of which is toxic to a marriage. A counselor will teach you how to listen, react and communicate more effectively, so that when arguments do happen, your relationship is strengthened rather than weakened as a result.<
You’ll make a fresh start.
If you’ve been together a while, chances are there may be some unresolved issues lingering about. If there is something that still niggles you, such as a quarrel or incident, no matter how long ago it happened, now is your chance to clear the air before it evolves into something much bigger down the road.
You’ll avoid unspoken expectations.
Both of you are going into marriage expecting certain things, whether you realize it or not. However, unless you bring those expectations out into the open, there’s no guarantee that your partner will be aware of them, or that they expect something similar! It can be surprisingly hard to articulate exactly what you are looking for from your marriage. A trained counselor will help you both identify your expectations and communicate them in a way that sets an excellent foundation for your future lives together.
You’ll identify potentially serious issues.
An experienced counselor will ask the right kind of questions to help you both open up and learn more about each other, so potential problems can be spotted well in advance. Is there something you always wished your partner would do or say? Or are you unconsciously irritating your partner in some minor way? Issues that we may deem perhaps too sensitive or uncomfortable to bring up with our partners can come out in counseling, which is a great thing for your relationship in the long term.
Of course, premarital counseling can be an intimidating prospect and it’s natural to be apprehensive. What if you end up unearthing issues so troublesome, you end up calling off the engagement?
Well, as Robert Scuka, the executive director of the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement says, “If you don’t deal with an issue before marriage, you deal with it while you’re married.” You’ll never be able to escape those issues, no matter how deep they seem to be buried – much better to tackle them before taking the big step. And as the saying goes – “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
Remember, a wedding is just one day. Marriage, hopefully, is forever!
PARC offers expert, confidential premarital counseling from highly trained, empathetic and experienced therapists. Call today to set up an appointment at your convenience at one of our New York locations.