By Debra Bacon
Before “I do”
Marriage is a big step; a leap of faith, a commitment. Faith for your future; that it will be bright, prosperous and secure. You are committing to stand together through thick and thin, health and wealth, sickness and poverty. Moreover, you are committing to each other for life, as partners, forsaking all others. That is why premarital counseling is vital.
Life is full of problems and unexpected ends. We may think we are prepared to take on all it offers--together--yet we are individuals. Knowing one another very well is not enough. Until living together in matrimony, it is impossible to see all aspects of each individual’s response to life’s situations.
Traversing the terrain of life together is much like that of a team who climbs mountains together. The ropes that bind them together are essential in keeping them alive. It takes practice, teaching and patience to learn how to attempt the unknown together.
Premarital counseling can help with identifying problem areas that might exist prior to marriage. In fact, some states require premarital counseling prior to marriage. Some of the issues addressed in counseling are:
- financial management and decisions
- parental issues
- expectations of each other
- roles and responsibilities
- religion and spirituality
- family involvement and activities
- hobbies and interests
It is important to ensure you each have realistic expectations of one another. To think that things will magically fall in place is unrealistic. Addressing these and other significant issues can get your marriage off on a more stable footing.
He said she said
Resolving conflicts in a marriage requires certain skills, and is another reason for premarital counseling. “Fair fighting” is imperative in a marriage, and seeking counsel prior to marriage, will prove beneficial in these areas. Counselors will offer various coping and negotiation skills necessary to ensure successful conflict resolution within your marriage.
Premarital counseling is generally facilitated by trained family therapists, and often, clergy. The counselor will assist you as a couple to identify potential or existing problem areas. This is accomplished as you discuss with your counselor, the more common issues of a marriage, as mentioned earlier.
Sitting down with a counselor and having these discussions prior to marriage, will help bring clarity and definition to your relationship. Premarital counseling offers invaluable tools that will assist you protect one of the most important blessings of your life. We go to great lengths to protect our worldly goods and things important to us. Your marriage should be protected in the same way.
Who should go
Couples who have never been married or involved in a long-term partnership should attend premarital counseling. Furthermore, anyone who has been married before, having it end in divorce, should also attend counseling prior to remarriage.
People with children should seek counseling before saying I do, as it can be difficult blending families. Successfully blending a family takes skill and effort, as well as, a lot of love and patience. Premarital counseling can help you navigate these tricky waters.