Engagement is an exciting time period in the life of new couples. The future seems boundless and the possibilities endless. It is difficult to conceive that marriage can be challenging and that problems may arise in the future. Our happiness can eclipse the need for conversations that may cause conflict, however, those discussions are an important step in building and ensuring growth on similar paths. We can be distracted by all that is going on around us such as engagement parties, showers, and wedding planning, and our relationships can suffer because of this.
It is during this time that many couples seek to solidify their relationship, creating a strong foundation from which to build their new married lives. Pre-martial counseling works with couples to create a sense of togetherness. Probing areas that may have yet to be discussed such as where they want their futures to go, outlook on childrearing, expectations of a spouse, career goals, retirement goals, and the inclusion of in-laws are essential questions to answer before your wedding day.
How to prepare
Premarital counseling is often different from other types of relationship counseling in that you may not currently be experiencing difficulties but rather looking to confront conflicts that could arise. Talk to your partner about their views on premarital counseling, and decide together what you are seeking through counseling and what goals you may have as a couple. Don’t worry if you can’t come up with a complete list. Your therapist will work collaboratively with you on what goals you wish to achieve through therapy.
What to expect
Your first session will focus primarily on developing individual histories as well as the history of your relationship. Your therapist will talk with you about your views on marriage and how those views were achieved. Discussions of family history, as well as the marital history of your parents and grandparents, will be explored to gather a complete picture of where and how you learned your values and expectations of marriage. Then together, you and your therapist will develop a set of goals to work towards during your time in counseling, such as improving communication, how to make decisions as a unit while maintaining independence and passion in your relationship.
Subsequent sessions will focus on the goals you determined during your intake. Your therapist may assign homework at the end of the sessions. Counseling is much more effective if you are able to keep an open mind and think about subjects from differing perspectives as well as complete the assigned homework.
Premarital counseling strives to help couples achieve a sense of unity as they embark on their new lives together. Development of the third entity, the couple, can create a sense of togetherness that builds a foundation for the future. Learning how to communicate effectively, disagree productively, and maintain the individuality that each of you was attracted to, in the beginning, will strengthen and enhance the relationship in which you have committed. Premarital counseling is a great way to build on your foundation and start your lives together.