What is premarital counseling?
Premarital counseling differs from Marriage Counseling because premarital couples are usually not in counseling to fix problems in their relationship. Instead, these couples seek out premarital counseling so that they can discuss important aspects of their relationship that they know are going to change after they get married and begin building a life together. This type of counseling provides a chance for the couple to, “consider and discuss things that will increase the likelihood of a successful marriage,” says family-law attorney Mark Baer.
How come more couples are choosing premarital counseling before marriage?
?What’s the downside of premarital counseling?
?Again, Mark Baer, family-law attorney, “Premarital counseling has the potential of creating problems, in that it causes people to think about and discuss issues they may never have considered. While this can be viewed as a con, I would propose that it is also a pro because it forces the discussion before marriage, as opposed to after marriage. Why not be preventative and not reactive?” ?As Becky Whetstone, Ph.D., LMFT tells it, “Marriage and Family Therapist’s know to look into each person’s beliefs and values concerning money, child-raising, spirituality, individuality, partnership, marriage in general, and more. If we see an emotionally immature or incompatible couple heading for a marital train wreck, we’ll tell them.”
What does it take to make a healthy marriage last?
John Gottman, professor of psychology at the University of Washington and cofounder and co-director of The Gottman Institute would argue that the key to a long lasting and healthy marriage is finding the ingredients that make for a strong friendship. If you haven’t already heard about John Gottman’s book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” I highly recommend it. I use this book with many couples to help them deepen their friendship, increase intimacy, and strengthen their emotional connection. There are some real gems in this book. One of my favorite exercises is called “Who Am I?” which invites each partner to write about his or her own triumphs and strivings, injuries and healings, emotional world, mission and legacy, and who he or she wants to become. It is an incredibly profound exercise when the couple is able to share these insights with one another.
As one partner in a premarital couple I worked with put it, “I would point out how much money most people are willing to spend on their wedding, but not on preparing for marriage, doesn’t make sense.” – D.B. (Washington, D.C.) I can’t say I disagree with you D.B. After all, my wife and I did the PREPARE/ENRICH premarital program, and we’re still happy after all these (2) years ;P
Robin S. Smith, MS, LCMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in clinical practice in Bethesda MD, and specializes in relationship issues for couples, families, and individuals, for improved quality of life. His clinical specialties include: transition to parenthood for new and expecting parents, infidelity, sex and intimacy issues, premarital counseling, and trauma. Robin has given talks to various groups including hospital administrators, graduate students, therapists, and child birth educators. He is the primary contributor to Your Couples Therapist Blog.