Premarital counseling might seem like you’re jumping the gun on your marriage needing help, but there are plenty of great reasons to sit down with a specialist before your happily-ever-after begins. In theory, by exchanging vows you’re telling the world that you’ve found your perfect partner, you promise to love one another ’til death do you part, and agree to stand by one another through the good and the bad.
As you already know, this theory doesn’t always hold up in the real world. Today, with so many marriages ending in divorce, it’s more important now than ever to educate yourself about what it truly means to be married before diving in. And when one or both partners have children from previous relationships, the divorce rate is actually higher than for first marriages.
Couples who have gone through premarital counseling before saying their vows experienced a deeper connection and a better understanding of their partner’s wants and needs in a marriage. Premarital counseling helps prevent future divorce and lays the foundation for a healthy relationship.
3 Reasons to Seek Premarital Counseling Before Remarriage
You may think you know everything there is to know about your mate, but the truth is, there is always more to learn. Your ex-spouse might have taught you this lesson during your divorce, but you may not be applying that knowledge to your new relationship. One way premarital counseling prevents divorce is by discovering the way you think, communicate, and treat your partner. Here are some of the reasons premarital counseling is beneficial.
1. Learn to communicate effectively
Many fights and issues that come up in relationships are due to miscommunication. Your counselor will help you see how you communicate now and show you ways in which you can improve. For example, does one of you avoid conflict while the other must talk about issues immediately? Do either of you have a tendency to freeze one another out? Does one require space while the other loves to talk about every aspect of their day? You will strengthen your abilities to communicate about both serious and mundane matters in premarital counseling.
2. Improve your conflict-resolution skills
One of the benefits of attending premarital counseling is that you will have a better understanding of how to communicate during arguments. You are partners, not enemies. Your communication should be done with a view to solving problems, not blaming one another. Learning or improving your conflict resolution skills will help you discover both how you currently behave during disagreements, and how you can correct your patterns in the future.
3. Discuss your hopes and expectations for your shared future
Unfulfilled expectations – even unspoken expectations – are another major source of fights and lingering resentment in a relationship. Going to premarital counseling will help you open up about what each of you expects from the future. Discussing your future will help both of you set standards on how you will treat one another – how each of you expects to be treated after you are married. Talking about your goals and dreams and learning about your partner’s is a great way to chart the future of your marriage. In the worst-case scenario, you may find your expectations, hopes, and dreams are so far apart that a marriage can’t bridge them. Although painful, it is better to discover this before marriage rather than experience another divorce later on.
Does Premarital Counseling Prevent Future Divorce?
Can premarital counseling really prevent your relationship from failing in the future? Statistics show that following the advice of your pre-marriage counselor actually increases marital success by up to 30%. Why? Communication. Good communication help to resolve problems before they become marriage-ending issues.
After going through premarital counseling, new couples headed down the aisle aren’t romanticizing marriage. They know the real effort it will take to make a marriage work, and they have already discussed issues for the future that many couples overlook, such as:
- Money: Who will be responsible for paying what? How will your monies be separated? Will you both be working full time?
- Family Planning: Are you interested in having children together? If so, when and how will you handle bringing up children together? Parenting is not a spur of the moment decision. You need to discuss what type of parents you want to be to your children and how you will raise them as a unit.
- Infidelity: You have said your vows for better or worse; what happens when your marriage is in the latter half of that statement? If the ultimate betrayal of infidelity occurs, how will you go about forgiving your spouse and healing from this event?
- Sex and Intimacy: What is your preferred sexual frequency? Are you both comfortable talking about intimate issues together? What is your long-term plan for sex, should one of you become bored or complacent in the bedroom?
- Forgiveness: Nobody is perfect. Therefore, it’s important that you learn how to forgive one another.
- Humility: Premarital counseling also teaches a couple to be humble with one another. You are not better than your spouse, so make sure you treat them as your equal. Make requests, not demands, and recognize their point of view is valid – especially when it differs from yours.
By addressing potential “deal-breakers” in the relationship, premarital counseling can help prevent future divorce.
How to Get the Most from Premarital Counseling
If you are considering getting pre-marriage counseling to solidify your relationship and truly commit to loving one another through thick and thin, you’re going to want to take your classes seriously. Here is how you can get the most out of pre-marriage counseling.
- Go in with an open mind: Even if you are not a “therapy” person by nature, it’s important to go into your pre-marriage counseling with an open mind. Even if you don’t think you need marriage advice, you may still learn valuable lessons about your partner during this time. Work hard to create a good rapport with your counselor so that they can understand you as a couple and discover the best way to strengthen your bond.
- Be thankful for your partner: If your spouse isn’t quite as thrilled about going to pre-marriage counseling as you are, be sure to thank them for being so accommodating.
- Know it may be challenging: Not all people are designed to open up about their most private thoughts and weaknesses. Yet, this is what your counselor is asking you to do. Speaking to a stranger about your relationship, or hearing about private details from your partner’s past isn’t always easy, but it is what will benefit you as a couple in the long run.
- Learn from the teacher: Your counselor isn’t there to judge you or pick your relationship apart negatively, they are there to help you identify weak spots and to help you learn how to be the person you can be for your partner.