So you and your partner are getting serious and starting to hear wedding bells in your future, perhaps when the pandemic subsides – congratulations! Marriage is a significant step forward and a beautiful symbol of commitment to one another! However, marriage isn’t always sunshine and rainbows – no matter what Hollywood tells you – and you both need to prepare yourselves for the commitment it requires. And one of the best ways to prepare yourselves is to participate in premarital counseling.
Now, you may be thinking, “Premarital counseling?! But my partner and I don’t have any major issues! We can resolve disagreements just fine on our own!” Good for you two! But premarital counseling isn’t just a way to resolve lingering conflict before the Big Day; premarital counseling is an opportunity to build and strengthen your relationship and a tool to help set up your marriage for years of success!
So, should you get premarital counseling? In short: yes! Every couple can benefit from premarital counseling before they walk down the aisle. It’s much like preventative medicine versus acute care – wouldn’t you much rather take measures now to ensure your relationship’s health than have to reach out for help when things are bad? But just in case you need more convincing, here are some signs that you and your future spouse should definitely participate in premarital counseling.
1. You Need to Strengthen Your Communication Skills
Let’s be honest: we all need to work on our communication skills! No matter how well you communicate with others, interpersonal communication with your partner is an area of constant learning. As people grow and evolve, their communication needs will change too. And here’s the main takeaway: effective communication is a key to a successful (and happy) marriage.
Premarital counseling will help you and your almost-spouse learn how to communicate with each other well – both as a giver and receiver. You will learn how to listen to each other actively without jumping in to fix the problem or interrupting with tidbits of wisdom. You’ll practice conveying empathy and expressing your feelings to each other, for better or for worse. With these valuable tools under your belt, you can better navigate your marriage through any problematic, trying times the two of you may encounter.
2. You Avoid or Hesitate When Discussing Problems
Nobody likes disagreeing with their significant other. If you do, there are bigger things to talk about! When problems arise, it’s tempting to shy away from that topic or avoid it altogether because it’s stressful! Your palms start to sweat, your stomach clenches, and adrenaline may start pumping through your veins.
What if you could take the stress out of disagreements?
Premarital counseling based on Gottman Method Couples Therapy teaches you and your partner to create a plan for navigating those challenging conversations and maintaining effective communication throughout. When you establish a plan for talking through issues that arise, it takes the stress out of the equation. You both know how you will handle the situation, so you have more space to think clearly and mindfully about communicating with each other. It takes practice, but developing a plan to process disagreements is one of the best things you can do for your marriage!
3. You Want an Outside Opinion on Those Disagreements
Maybe there are recurring disagreements that rear their ugly heads often in your relationship. In this case, you or your future spouse may benefit from hashing out these issues with a “neutral third party” present to help mediate the conversation. A premarital counselor can help you both gain perspective on the situation, offer guidance on how to navigate it, and (ideally) help you lay the issue to rest! More than anything, a premarital counselor is there to support you – both of you – as you learn to work through disagreements as a couple. They can provide valuable direction in the difficult times and celebrate with you in the joyful times! Even healthy relationships face challenges from time to time, and a premarital counselor is an invaluable asset to help you emerge from those challenges with a stronger relationship.
4. You Feel that Sexual Intimacy is an Issue
It’s difficult to talk about sexual intimacy with a stranger; we get that. But a lack of discussion around this topic can lead to much bigger problems down the road!
Issues with sexual intimacy can take many forms. Perhaps there is a total lack of desire from both parties. Maybe one of you wants more than the other is willing to give. Or perhaps you both want more, or want to make similar changes, but you’re both too shy to broach the subject!
Premarital counseling provides you and your partner with a safe space to discuss sexual issues and provides you with tools to discuss them in a healthy way. Your counselor or therapist won’t force you to talk about them in session if you aren’t comfortable, so put that fear out of your mind! They will help you and your spouse-to-be address any sexual intimacy concerns while respecting your boundaries. Your therapist at Loving at Your Best will help you start that conversation and provide support when necessary, so don’t be afraid to bring up this topic if it’s a problem area in your relationship!
5. You Had a Difficult Upbringing that May Affect Your Relationship – and Parenting Choices
Maybe you or your partner (or both) had a troubled upbringing. It’s a harsh reality that many of us have to face. These wounds from our childhood can affect our marriages for sure, but they can also affect our parenting choices. Whether you bear these wounds or your partner does, you need to sensitively discuss them with each other and evaluate how that will impact your marriage, regardless of your plans for starting a family. Premarital counseling will help you both unearth, address, and begin to resolve those emotional wounds and traumas from the past. Healing past trauma is how we stop the past from imprisoning us.
If you’re engaged to your spouse-to-be and counting down the days until you say, “I do,” make sure you add premarital counseling to your pre-wedding checklist! Even if you aren’t officially engaged, but you and your partner agree that marriage is in the future, premarital counseling can still help you prepare for that lifelong commitment. If you need premarital counseling in New York City but don’t know where to start, reach out to us at Loving at Your Best! We’re here to help you and your future spouse enjoy a lifetime of happiness, for better or worse.
Reserve your time now to get your marriage off to a healthy start!