You take a used car to the mechanic before you buy it, and you get a new home inspected before escrow closes. So, it’s a no-brainer to get premarital counseling before walking down the aisle.
Premarital counseling offers a trousseau full of benefits.
First, it provides a safe, neutral place to address any concerns that either of you might have. Perhaps you’re concerned about the amount of pot he smokes. Or you’re worried about her spending habits. Competent counselors can skillfully guide you through a discussion of these sensitive subjects. They may also bring up topics that neither of you had yet considered.
Premarital counseling can improve your communication skills. You’ll learn the importance of calm, respectful dialogue plus strategies for resolving conflicts.
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The very act of attending counseling sessions demonstrates commitment to the relationship. When one partner is consistently reluctant or unable to attend, it may indicate emotional detachment and be the first sign of a fragile bond.
Every couple faces problems. Premarital counseling connects you to a therapist you can turn to should future issues arise.
Of course, premarital counseling isn’t free. And there are lots of expenses before a wedding. But many insurance policies cover the cost of counseling. Even if they don’t, it’s still cheaper than getting a divorce.
Speaking of which, not every match is made in Heaven. Occasionally, premarital counseling uncovers irreconcilable problems and the couple decides to call things off. Sure, the immediate fallout seems traumatic. But it’s better to make the right decision before it’s too late.
Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her, visit lindalewisgriffith.com.
Topics for premarital counseling
▪ Money: Discuss your feelings about spending habits and the use of credit cards. Decide if and when you’re willing to incur debt. Face any concerns you have about your future spouse’s money management.
▪ Children: Are they in your joint future? If so, how many and when? How will the responsibilities for childcare be divided?
▪ Step-children: If you’re entering a relationship with children, decide how much time the kids will spend in your new family and how parenting will be conducted. Discuss concerns about former partners and what role they’ll have in your marriage.
▪ Affection and sex: How often do you envision having sex? Who’s responsible for practicing birth control? Which methods do you both agree on?
▪ Previous relationships: Prior lovers and spouses can haunt the psyche of a new marriage. Discuss concerns about former partners and what role those people will have in your marriage. Air grievances about old flames who are still present in your current lives.
▪ Religion: Decide which faith you’ll both follow and pass along to your kids. Or, if you have differing religious viewpoints, discuss how you’ll incorporate them into your marriage.
▪ In-laws: Extended families are included in the marital bargain and can be a source of joy or exasperation. Address any concerns you have about your partner’s parents and siblings. Brainstorm strategies for setting limits or resolving potential conflicts.