As you and your partner get ready to take this next step in your life, you may want to enroll in marriage preparation. You are in love and getting ready to head down the aisle to your happily ever after. The idea that you would even need marriage preparation is the last thing on your mind. “If we love each other we should be able to work through everything!” That’s a common misconception many couples hold. Unfortunately, divorce rates in the United States seem to grow every year, but one way to help divorce-proof your marriage is premarital counseling.
When considering if you want to enroll in marriage preparation counseling, you should communicate with your partner as well as wedding counseling preparation professionals to find your best match. With different styles available, how do you find the one that fits your relationship best? We have come up with some reasons as to why couples marriage preparation is so important for couples about to tie the knot, and what types can be the most helpful for your specific relationship.
Marriage Preparation: Preparing for the Wedding
1. Resolving Conflict
Premarital counseling provides couples with a chance to explore any unresolved insecurities or feelings. Once the feelings are out in the open, the professional can help the couple resolve any challenges in a healthy way. This process also provides the opportunity for a couple to go their separate ways if one member of the couple is unwilling to resolve the conflict. Although the idea of this may seem scary to some couples, it’s important to get any issues addressed before the big day so it can be enjoyed by both individuals the way it should be.
2. A New Appreciation
One unexpected benefit is often a new appreciation for the differences partners innately have. This will only serve to improve the relationship and help prepare the couple for the stressful times that happen in all relationships. By displaying these differences in a healthy and respectful way, couples can appreciate one another without any negative feelings attached. This is especially beneficial for the couple as they enter into the pressures of wedding planning, learning to live together and married life in general.
3. Words Spoken Without Anger
One of the most important components of marital preparation sessions is couples can learn to communicate with one another without using anger as a weapon. Anger is going to happen in any relationship–if you didn’t care about the person, you wouldn’t care enough to get mad. With marriage prep classes, couples often learn to communicate their needs to their spouse without being aggressive or upsetting. This allows for problems to be expressed and worked on more easily.
4. Required by Faith
Many religious groups require couples to attend premarital counseling in order to be married by a clergy of their faith. This can involve anywhere from six months of sessions with a premarital counselor to one meeting with their clergyman. Be sure to ask if they have experience doing premarital counseling and if they have a good track record of couples who have stayed married after the counseling. Not all clergy are equal when it comes to handling this type of situation.
Marriage Preparation: Preparing for the Future
5. The Toolbox
Marriage preparation is a form of training for the couple. It can give them tools that can be used throughout their relationship, like the best ways to communicate, manage conflict, solve differences, and compromise. It also allows couples to strengthen their relationship early on and acquire skills to make their marital life easier. Counseling usually addresses many situations they may encounter in their married life. Couples can learn skills to handle disagreements over issues including finances, children, decision making and role expectations. Once these skills are put into practice they can create habits that help the couple’s relationship long term.
6. Planning a Life Together
Once you enroll in marriage preparation, attending the counseling not only allows couples to prepare for marriage, but also helps gauge each partner’s readiness for marriage. Many times a couple focuses more on planning the wedding than preparing for the marriage itself. This type of planning allows couples to assess the pros and cons of their relationship and work out some of the kinks before they start their new life together. It can also bring to light each partners long term goals, allowing them to prepare and support one another better in the future.
7. Trusted Counsel
By starting your marriage with premarital counseling, you create a resource for yourselves. When life throws its inevitable curve balls into your marriage, having a trusted counselor ready to contact can be a big help. Even if you just enroll in marriage preparation for the wedding, many counselors offer standard marriage counseling for when the honeymoon stage between a couple is over as well.
8. What to Expect
Premarital counseling can take many forms. It can be live meetings with a professional counselor or a clergy-person. It can be online classes or even video based. The important factor is that it allows you as a couple to explore the concepts of marriage in a way you hadn’t thought of before. Counseling not only prepares couples for situations they may experience during marriage but also may instill in them a newfound confidence in their upcoming marriage. Couples should enroll in marriage preparations they feel the most connected to and that they think will benefit their relationship the most.
9. Statistics Don’t Lie
Research has shown that participating in marital counseling increases the chance of marital success by 30%. Couples who attended marriage preparation found that their dedication to each other was higher, they focused more on the positive sides of their relationship, and that their relationship improved overall. Preparation can also alert couples to more severe problems in their relationship that may keep them from continuing with the marriage if they believe they cannot resolve the issue. This not only helps resolve issues that are currently a problem for the couple, but prevents future problems from occurring as well.
10. Starting a Family
Many couples feel a lot of pressure and stress about building a family further down the road. This can be a difficult conversation for couples to have, especially when marriage is already a huge commitment. Marriage preparation gives couples the opportunity to discuss heavy topics such as these that couples may not have addressed yet or feel uncomfortable talking about. This can be especially helpful for older or same sex couples, where children isn’t always an obvious or realistic option.
Premarital counseling is different for each couple. It can be a very positive experience or may indicate that you aren’t compatible and need to separate. Figuring out ways to resolve differences in expectations and coping mechanisms will help make your marriage run more smoothly. That can help prevent a divorce later in the marriage. Ultimately, it’s up to the couple to decide what is right for them.
Written by Jan Rojas
Edited by Celeste Rodriguez, Jacqueline Kaliouby