Pre-marital & Pre-engagement Counseling
Marriage as a Journey of GROWTH
When you get married, you're NOT just marrying one person. You are tying the knot with:
The imaginary person you are infatuated with
The real person who is standing in front of you
The future person that your spouse will grow into -- thanks to all that happens in your time together
Marriage is a journey of growth. If we have the right attitude, helpful tools, essential relationship skills, and a commitment to supporting each other, you will shape each other into far better versions of ourselves than we can even imagine.
Why Pre-Marital Counseling?
Unfortunately, most couples underestimate the need to prime their relationship for growth and spend far more time talking about, and planning for, their wedding day than they do for what comes after... the relationship that they expect to last a lifetime.
Many couples never talk about the basics of maintaining a good relationship until after they are married. Often, they do so only once they've discovered that they're not on the same page about many key life issues.
Even just talking about the "M" word can cause a change in a couple's relationship. And couples are often shocked at how different their partner's expectations are about the roles of wife and husband as opposed to those of girlfriend and boyfriend.
Pre-marital counseling provides a structured format to review the main areas which surprise couples, both as soon as they start talking about marriage, and once the honeymoon is over.
I work with couples to explore the dreams, expectations, rules, and unspoken requirements for a satisfying marriage that have developed over a lifetime. Couples counseling encourages the understanding of how past experiences with parents and other partners shape expectations, as well as examining relationship skills and deficits.
Together, we can explore your different personalities and communication styles in order to help you both learn better communication skills for the years ahead.
6 SESSION PLAN
In six sessions you will:
- Explore the meaning of love and commitment for each of you
- Discover your biases about the roles of wife, husband, and couple
- Discuss key issues of extended family, friends, children, money, sensuality, alone time, decision making, and responsibilities
- Practice expressing your own needs and fears so your partner can hear you
- Discover your relationship vision -- what you each think a satisfying relationship "should" look like now, in 3-5 years, 10 years from now, and over your lifetime
- Receive "homework" assignments to help you understand your different personalities and communication styles in "real" life
Is Pre-marital Counseling Really Necessary If You've Already Been Married?
When one or both partners have been married before, it is easy to believe that this time will be easier because you learn from your mistakes. Unfortunately, we don't all learn from our mistakes so easily. Nor do we all make the same mistakes twice... Often we make completely different mistakes on our second attempts. And, perhaps most importantly, you aren't marrying your previous spouse. You're making a commitment to an entirely different person with a unique personality, communication style, expectations, and values. You are different as well - you are "older and wiser" and possibly more cautious, guarded, and afraid of failing than you were the first time you got married.
Pre-marital counseling can help you acknowledge and express your fears, as well as learn new skills to handle unexpected and tricky situations.
If you're interested in learning more about how pre-marital counseling can benefit your relationship for years to come, please don't hesitate to call me.
There's a difference between pre-engagement counseling and pre-marital counseling. Once an engagement ring sits on a woman's finger, a dating couple usually loses any remaining objectivity about their relationship. Instead, the priority of their relationship becomes planning the wedding day. It’s like you get on board a giant locomotive and there’s no way to stop it, making it nearly impossible to stop and deal with any character flaws that might arise. Furthermore, the embarrassment of calling off a wedding can deter couples from being honest about character traits that bother them. The engagement period tends to make couples ignore their problems and push them into marriage, where they have the potential to wreak havoc.
To avoid this dilemma, dating couples benefit from visiting a trained counselor who can help examine all aspects of their relationship. I can ask the important character questions that you may have forgotten or have been afraid to ask.
Remember that pursuing pre-engagement counseling does not mean that anything is necessarily wrong with your relationship. Nor does it mean that you have to get married. Instead, we examine the critical aspects of your relationship so you can be sure that you are right for each other. A good time to seek counseling is when a couple has dated for a while and are contemplating the real possibility of marriage.
Dating is a delicate process that is often difficult for people to navigate. Many clients struggle because they have dating blind spots. These are set patterns which keep them from building lasting relationships. Usually, these are hard to identify without an outside perspective..
Logan Ury, a dating coach, talks about the following blind spots:
"The Romanticizer" has unrealistic expectations of relationships.
"The Maximizer" has unrealistic expectations of their partner.
"The Hesitater" has unrealistic expectations of themselves.
Here is how she explains them:
The Romanticizer: You want the soul mate, the happily ever after—the whole fairy tale. You love love. You believe you are single because you haven’t met the right person yet. Your motto: It’ll happen when it’s meant to happen.
The Maximizer: You love doing research, exploring all of your options, turning over every stone until you’re confident you’ve found the right one. You make decisions carefully. And you want to be 100 percent certain about something before you make your choice. Your motto: Why settle?
The Hesitater: You don’t think you’re ready for dating because you’re not the person you want to be yet. You hold yourself to a high standard. You want to feel completely ready before you start a new project; the same goes for dating. Your motto: I’ll wait until I’m a catch.
She even has a quiz that you can take to determine your dating tendency.
I would be honored to help you sort through your dating experiences and goals to see if you can understand yourself better so you can build the relationships that are most important to you.
Have you asked each other the important questions?
You don't have to answer every question but you do have to talk about them. Doing this with a therapist present, assures that you really have a meaningful conversation. You will also learn HOW to talk about potentially difficult topics so you can speak your truth in a loving way.
Is there an agreement about having children? When? How many? Who will take care of them? How long will mom or dad stay home? If there are problems with fertility, is adoption an option? If we have a change of heart about any of these questions, how do we negotiate our prior agreements?
What is our policy regarding family visits on holidays? How do we deal with aging or dependent parents?
How do we determine whose job dictates where we live? Are all promotions and raises in salary acceptable, even if they require more time away from the family?
What are our expectations of each other for financial contribution to the family? What is the maximum one person can spend without consent from the other? Do we want a budget?
Is it okay for each of us to have friends of the opposite sex? How much time do we have to spend with our friends? How do we deal with it if one person feels neglected?
How do we handle it if there are differences in rates of sexual desire? How open are each of us to different sexual techniques? Is there a willingness to seek professional help if there is a sexual problem? If so, when? How do we deal with it if one person wants to get help and the other doesn’t?
Separateness and Togetherness:
What would be the ideal amount of time spent together and apart for each of us?
What is our policy regarding communication about personal and marital concerns with other people?
What are each of our preferred ways of having love expressed? Are you aware of what makes you feel loved? Are you willing to tell me in a way that I can act on it?