So you’re engaged? You and your partner are probably riding high on the romance of your recent engagement and the promise of a happily ever after. You might be working on your wedding plans and talking about the joy of moving in and starting a new life together.
The last thing you probably want to think about is premarital counseling. Who wants to uncover possible relationship issues when you’re in love? You don’t want that kind of negativity, right?
However, putting pre-marital counseling isn’t a waste of time and money. It is, in fact, a crucial step that should be a part of your wedding to-do list.
We list down 7 reasons why soon-to-be married couples should consider counseling.
1. A chance to think past your emotions
“Why did you decide to get married?”
You’ll have to provide an answer that’s more comprehensive than “because we’re in love.” because you’re going to need a lot more than romantic feelings to make it through an entire lifetime together.
Premarital counseling provides you with a more holistic view of all things married life entails. You need friendship, compatibility, and mutual respect. You need to establish a strong, unbreakable bond that’s enough to make you choose and respect each other every day even if the spark from the honeymoon stage is fading. You need goals and plans for your relationship.
Being clear about your initial motives for being together will provide clarity on what’s required to make your relationship work after your big day.
2. See the relationship from the “outside-in”
If you’re in love, the line between your perception and the reality is blurred. For example, you’re entering married life with neither one of you being financially stable. Perception might say “with love, we’ll make it through” while reality says, “maybe it’s better to push the date back until we have enough money to live on our own.”
A premarital counselor takes into consideration what you see from the “inside out” while encouraging you to look at things from the outside in. It does not necessarily discourage couples from getting married although it will help them enhance their readiness for married life.
3. A safe space for discussing uncomfortable topics
Couples who have been together for a while now claim that they know each other from head to toe so they’re confident they can take what the future holds. While it’s an optimistic view, we can’t deny the fact that people can change eventually, sometimes forced by external factors like stress and pressure. Other people can show off their true colors when you live with them under one roof.
Counselors help you discuss uncomfortable topics and somehow solidify your relationship during the engagement.
- Are you planning to have children? What if only one of you wants them?
- Are you both good with money? Are you okay to have one of you be the chief financial officer? What’s your credit score?
- Who tends to have a higher sex drive?
- Are you familiar with each other’s love languages?
- What bad habits do you have?
- Do you have a healthy relationship with each other’s parents?
- What are some of your traumatic experiences and greatest fears?
Counseling before marriage gives you the opportunity and safe place to find the answers that are crucial to compatibility in your relationship. Discussing them can even help in coping with and moving on from issues in your/your partner’s past.
4. Fix small issues before they blow up
Many couples hesitate to seek couples counseling out of fear. They know each other’s weaknesses and the issues that they often fight about. They don’t want to talk about them openly because they don’t want to start a fire and eventually break the relationship.
The reality is counterintuitive. While it’s scary to face the ugly parts of your relationship and vent your anger, resentments, and frustrations, it’s the release of these emotions in a structured context that allows couples to move past them. Resolving these issues is the best way to have a fresh, new start in marriage.
5. Counselors help you work out your goals for the future
Counseling is a great way to assess you and your partner’s future expectations, financial goals, and family plans. Counselors will help you construct a rough sketch of where you might be heading after a certain period in your marriage and personal life. Here, you can discuss the goals you’ve set for yourself, and how you can align them with the goals of your partners.
6. Get a professional, unbiased opinion
If you don’t want to hear vague, sugarcoated, and subjective pieces of advice, it’s not enough to seek them from friends and family. You need to talk to an expert, even if it’s in the form of online couples counselling.
A counselor may ask about specific concerns in your relationship (if any) and any fears or concerns about marriage or your future. At the end of the session, your counselor may either say “you two are a great match” or “you two should rethink your decision” based on the things you shared. Although it will depend on the couple whether or not to pursue marriage, at least they heard advice from someone professional and unbiased.
7. Learn communication skills
In contrast to common misconceptions, premarital counseling isn’t all about uncovering the bad things that could happen and killing the “romantic vibe” with a slap of reality. Couples can learn tips on how to communicate more effectively and strengthen their relationship. Even when arguing about opposing views or shortcomings, couples with effective communication skills can resolve their fights without resorting to toxic behaviors.
Good communication is key to maintaining a happy and healthy marriage. A marriage therapist can discuss ways on how to speak and listen better. They suggest tips on discussing beliefs, values, finances, expectations, and other difficult topics without offending someone, handling anger issues, and resolving conflicts more effectively.
Author: Carmina Natividad is one of the writers for Relationship Room Couples Counseling, a couples psychology institution specializing in relationship counseling and therapies for couples and families. She may be hopeless romantic but she’s got some straightforward pieces of advice about love, dating, and relationships.