How Beneficial Is Pre-Marital CounselingDivorce rates are escalating at an alarming rate. According to Colorado State University (2014), approximately half of 1st marriages end in divorce, and subsequent marriages (i.e. 2nd and 3rd marriages) fail at a significantly high rate. Why? Well, probably because more and more people are choosing to forgo pre-marital counseling, before getting married, because they do not have the time, simply do not recognize its importance, or feel that they do not need it to resolve issues in their relationship before the wedding. Contrary to popular belief, pre-marital counseling is highly beneficial and effective.

How? Well, it helps couples, who may be having minor or major issues in their relationship, learn better communication and problem-solving skills. In other words, it helps couples work through their issues before walking down the aisle. Ironically, “getting married” is still as popular as ever, despite the high divorce rates. Thankfully, most people cherish and respect the institution of marriage. These individual want to get married and have a successful, happy marriage. One of the best ways to increase the odds of a happy marriage is to schedule some time to have pre-marital counseling with a minister or family counselor.

Listed below are ways that pre-marital counseling is beneficial:

• Compatibility

Are you sure that you are compatible with one another? If you are unsure, you may need to seek pre-marital counseling before you get married. Psychologists and researchers believe that the euphoric and giddy feelings associated with “new love” and “being in love” typically last approximately two years – then reality sets in. Life is not a fairytale and marriage takes work…a lot of work. When the “honeymoon phase” wears off, then it is important to have good communication and problem-solving skills.

It is also important to have a strong support system of relatives and friends. If those elements are not in place, your marriage will not survive. Pre-marital counseling can help you prepare for the after-effects of the “honeymoon phase.” It can also help you both determine if you are really compatible with one another. Do you like the same television shows, music and/or movies? Do you share the same values and morals? Do you share the same or similar religious beliefs? Do you share the same budgeting techniques? Do you have similar life goals? Do you want to have children? Do you enjoy talking to one another and sharing your dreams and aspirations? Do you see the future in the same way?

• Goals & Expectations

Do you have the same goals and expectations? If you are unsure, you may need pre-marital counseling. It is essential to discuss life goals and expectations before committing yourself to one another before God, a minister, friends, and family. These goals may include how you plan to handle money issues, how you want to plan for retirement or your children’s college education, whether you want to purchase a home, change jobs, return to college, what type of lifestyle you prefer, etc. For example, you may be fine living a modest lifestyle, while your partner may prefer an opulent, luxurious lifestyle. Moreover, your partner may expect you to partake in an “open marriage,” while you prefer a monogamous one. These are important things to consider before getting married.

If you and your partner are not on the “same page,” your marriage will ultimately fail. Pre-marital counseling will help you and your partner identify common goals and expectations, so that you can work on them together as a unit. Most couples fall “in love” and quickly assess that they want to get married, without making sure that they actually want the same things in life. Your minister or family counselor can help you decide, if this is the person you really want to spend the rest of your life with.

• Communication & Problem-Solving Skills

Pre-marital counseling is beneficial for couples, who are intent on marrying, because it strengthens and improves their communication and problem-solving skills. A happy marital couple is one who is able to effectively communicate and resolve problems. Effective communication and problem-solving skills consist of open and honest communication, love, respect, empathy, and forgiveness. You must be able to work together, if you want to have a successful marriage. It is important to note that disagreements will occur in your marriage. This is not a definite sign of marital destruction, but it is important to know how to talk about your issues and work together to find realistic solutions for them.

It is normal to differ in opinion, in various areas. You are two different people, possibly raised two different ways. You are individuals within a relationship, so there will be times when you disagree. The make it or break it point is how you handle those situations. People often say that the first year of marriage is the hardest, and that is true. You have to get used to living with one another and combining your styles, so that you are both happy. It is normal to feel “crowded” at times in your marriage. But, pre-marital counseling can teach you and your partner how to effectively communicate with one another, rather than allowing trivial or insignificant disagreements fester until you both explode with anger.

• Religious Beliefs

Do you share the same religious beliefs? If not, you may need pre-marital counseling to help you navigate through your beliefs, so that you can meet each other halfway. If you and/or your partner belong to a specific religion, you may be required to complete pre-marital counseling before you get married. If you and your partner do not hold strong religious beliefs, this topic may not come up before marriage. Pre-marital counseling can help you and your partner determine your feelings on religion, and your religious beliefs, so that they do not “pop up” after marriage.

Staff Writer:
Dr. R. Y. Langham

References:
Colorado State University. (2014). Dealing with couples’ anger. Retrieved from http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/consumer/10238.html

Good Therapy. (2014). Premarital counseling. Retrieved from http://www.goodtherapy.org/pre-marital-counseling.html

Mayo Clinic. (2014). Marriage counseling. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/marriage-counseling/basics/definition/prc-20012741