Many people have mistaken ideas about what it means to get pre-marital counseling. They assume that you must be off to a bad start if you “need” therapy before you get married. Or they think that pre-marital counseling is only for religious couples who seek guidance through their church before marriage. While you can certainly seek that type of pre-marital counseling, it’s not the only reason to get therapy before getting married. In fact, many of the strongest marriages begin because they got off on the right foot thanks to therapy.
What is Pre-Marital Counseling?
Obviously, pre-marital counseling is couples’ therapy for people who are planning to get married. It’s provided by a licensed, trained therapist, just like any other type of couples’ counseling would be. It utilizes the same practices as other forms of couples’ therapy. The only difference is that the focus is on issues that concern you as you move forward together into marriage.
Addressing Issues in Pre-Marital Counseling
Sometimes getting married brings a very specific issue to the forefront. For example, as you plan the wedding, you begin to realize that you have extremely different philosophies about finances. Therefore, you might go to pre-marital couples’ counseling in order to deal with that very specific issue. Or perhaps one or both of you is feeling ambivalent about the marriage, and you need to address that in order to decide if you’re going to move forward with the wedding. Therapy can help you figure that out.
However, even if you don’t have a specific issue in mind, you can benefit from pre-marital counseling. Your therapist can help you identify what types of things currently concern you in the relationship or might be an issue in the future. They can point out some of the most common issues in a marriage that you might want to think about.
Some of the issues that you might address in pre-marital counseling include:
*Blended family issues including those related to exes and children from other partners
*Cultural and/or religious differences
*Desires about when and whether to have children, how many to have, how to handle potential fertility challenges, and what parenting together might look like
*Differences in communication styles and how to handle conflict
*Financial issues including beliefs about earning, saving, spending, and investing money
*Problems associated with one or both sets of in-laws and/or friend circles
*Power imbalances and/or gender role beliefs
Planning for the Future in Pre-Marital Counseling
Pre-marital counseling isn’t just about “problems.” In fact, you might currently feel like there aren’t any big issues. That’s okay. Pre-marital counseling can also help you start setting goals for your shared future. By learning how to communicate about the future now, you start your relationship off with a strong foundation. Some of the things that you might discuss in therapy include:
*What do you want your family’s holiday traditions to be?
*How do you want to celebrate your relationship?
*What do you hope intimacy will look like in one year, five years, and ten years?
*How will you handle things if one of you gets very ill?
*What rituals would you like to create in your relationship?
*What expectations do you have about your separate roles in the marriage?
*How will you handle time apart from one another?
*What are your top values in the relationship?
You have the opportunity to create the relationship of your dreams. Premarital counseling can provide a starting place for beginning to draft that dream relationship together.
Kathryn McNeer, LPC specializes in Couples Counseling Dallas with her sound, practical and sincere advice. Kathryn’s areas of focus include individual counseling, relationship and couples counseling Dallas. Kathryn has helped countless individuals find their way through life’s inevitable transitions; especially that tricky patch of life known as “the mid life crisis.” Kathryn’s solution-focused, no- nonsense counseling works wonders for men and women in the midst of feeling, “stuck,” or “unhappy.” Kathryn believes her fresh perspective allows her clients find the better days that are ahead. When working with couples, it is Kathryn’s direct yet non-judgmental approach that helps determine which patterns are holding them back and then helps them establish new, more productive patterns. Kathryn draws from Gottman and Cognitive behavioral therapy. When appropriate Kathryn works with couples on trust, intimacy, forgiveness, and communication.