Just recently engaged? If so, it’s time to begin investing in your soon to be marriage. One of the best ways to do so is through engaging in premarital counseling. Allow me to take a few moments to explain why going through premarital counseling is more than a mere formality, but an investment that can save your marriage in the long term.
What in-depth premarital counseling can help you achieve
Some of you may think that when I say “premarital counseling” I’m referring to a couple of meetings with your church pastor or simply taking a premarital assessment. However, I’m talking about something far more in-depth and engaging which can help you achieve the following:
1. Establish a clear understanding each member’s personality traits.
2. Identify what each individual needs to consistently feel loved over time.
3. Obtain guidance in directly working through current concerns in your relationship.
4. Teach and challenge you to become proficient in applying needed communication and conflict resolution skills.
5. Learn to set effective boundaries in your relationship so that it remains a priority among all other relationships.
Addressing these and other important areas take time. That is why I recommend making this pre-marital investment in your relationship at least up to 6 to 8 months before your wedding date. This gives you plenty of time to prepare your relationship for the beautiful and vastly complicated endeavor known as marriage.
Having a prevention based mindset
As a Marriage & Family Therapist, I’ve come to see that many of the issues driving couples into marriage counseling relate to things they needed to have learned or discussed prior to being married. This is why I am an ardent proponent of couples taking a prevention-based approach by “preparing for marriage” through an in-depth premarital counseling process. Let me explain this more.
You’ve often heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect,” and it’s true when it comes to marriage. The habits you’ve put into place regarding how you treat and love your future spouse today, will largely be those that you carry forward into your marriage. So we have to ask, “What have you been learning and practicing?”
Premarital counseling provides you with a safe context to learn and practice healthy relational and communication based habits that will propel you forward in developing a lasting and vibrant emotional connection over time. Another way of putting this is “be proactive in your relationship” and treat it as an investment. What you put into it today will pay dividends tomorrow as you remain consistent and maintain an effective long term strategy. I’ve said all this to highlight that having a prevention mindset positions you to avoid many of the pitfalls sustained unnecessarily by far too many couples.
Who should we work with?
There are different options available when it comes to deciding who you would like to work with. A marriage counselor who is well trained in couple dynamics and has plenty of experience in providing premarital counseling would be a great option. Other options include working with a local pastor or experienced couple who are well versed in taking couples through a thorough evaluation of their relationship and who can serve as mentors during their engagement period.
Whichever route you choose, remember the focus is to find someone who also has a prevention based mindset and who offers an in-depth structure to premarital counseling. Finally, take confidence in your willingness to do the work needed to build your relationship today so that you and your future spouse will be able to reap the benefits of doing so tomorrow.