Getting Married? Why Premarital Therapy is a Great Idea
Most couples put more effort into planning their weddings than getting prepared for the changes that come with matrimony. Many couples on the verge of marriage believe that since they want to get married, they must have a strong foundation going into their union. Fortunately, many do, but as a counselor and psychotherapist, I would encourage even healthy couples to consider giving their marriages the best possible start. Pre-marital counseling should be considered, if for no other reason, to help you avoid and solve problems many marriages have early on in your matrimony to give yourselves the best possible start. My experience with couples in marriage counseling is that they have told me, again and again, that they wish they had worked on these issues earlier in their marriage before they had hit a crisis point.
Develop Personal, Couple, and Family Goals
It is amazing how often two people chose to commit themselves to each other but never discuss their personal goals- let alone relationship goals or whether or not they want a family. For most people, being connected to someone else is the most important feeling, and it simply does not cross their mind to discuss these issues. What you want your future to look like and whether you want to have children are absolutely vital issues to your relationship. These are issues that can effectively explore in pre marriage counseling.
Learn Conflict Resolution
Of course you do not want to think that you are going to have conflict in your future marriage. There will be all different levels of intensity of difficult conflicts in a marriage- from who picks up the dry cleaning to very serious issues- at some time in every marriage. The important thing is how you manage this conflict and learn effective methods to de-escalate it and time spent in painful argument. Evidence shows that couples that manage conflict well are far less likely to divorce.
Set and Define Role Expectations
Unfortunately, most couples do not discuss who will be doing what in a marriage, meaning that there is confusion about what roles each of you will have regarding money, finances, sex, work and much more. Exploring what role expectations prior to marriage can help avoid conflict later and increase intimacy and bonding.
Explore Spiritual Beliefs
For some, differences in spiritual or religious beliefs are not important, but others it can be a painful and serious divide. Differing spiritual beliefs are usually not a problem so long as there is respect and understanding of the other’s beliefs and how these beliefs affect religious practice, children, etc. Premarital therapy can help process this issue.
Strengthen Communication Skills
Couples who effectively communicate are able to resolve difficulties and conflicts that arise between all couples, and are far less likely to divorce. Knowing how to effectively listen, hear and validate your partner is vital in managing marital difficulties. Premarital therapy often helps with this as we often imagine we know how to do these things better than we actually do.
Identify Problems from the Family of Origin
We are, to a large extent, the culmination of our early childhood experiences. Much is modeled from our parents and our familial experiences that can differ greatly for each person in the relationship. People experience different levels of dysfunction and conflict in their families of origin, and the better that you understand the underlying causes of relationship difficulties, the more likely you are to be able to disrupt these destructive patterns. If Family-of-Origin issues are significant, sometimes individual therapy is needed.
Pre-marital counseling need not be a long, drawn-out process; in fact, it is usually brief. This is especially true if a couple is coming from a strong foundation in their relationship and simply need some goal-setting and communication improvement. Regardless of whether more or less time is needed, invest time and energy in your marriage from the outset could be one of the most important things you do for your marriage.
If you are interested in Premarital, Couples, or Individual Counseling in the Newport Beach, Irvine, or the Orange County area, please call Jennifer De Francisco at (949) 251-8797.
For more information about how I can help in your situation or to make an appointment, please call (949) 251-8797 or email me here.