Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Morning Matrimony: Premarital Counseling - Is it for you?

Welcome to our first edition of our bi-weekly blog - Monday Morning Matrimony! This is a time to focus less on the planning for the big day and more on the planning for the big LIFE! Let's get started with our first topic which still falls into the "planning" stage: Premarital Counseling... is it for you?

Before you say "I do", should you and your fiance get premarital counseling? There are a lot of people who misunderstand the purpose of premarital counseling. It's not to 'make sure you want to do this', it's not to tell you "life is going to be a lot different", and in most cases it's not even about religion. The point of premarital counseling is to help you both TOGETHER set a couple extra blocks to the foundation of your marriage. Studies have shown that premarital counseling can decrease your chance of divorce by up to 30%! And, I have to be honest - for us, it was also FUN! 

During these economic times, many people are opting for small weddings, quickie weddings or even eloping. If you don't have a "traditional marriage", you may not have a pastor who requires you to go through these sessions. However, in my opinion, it's something EVERYONE should do! 

Dustin & I had been dating for just about 3 years before he proposed and we had a 7 month engagement so I felt very confident at that point, that we knew all there was to know about each other. The funny thing is - I was way wrong! Our counselor asked us questions on specific life situations we hadn't even thought of. Every couple daydreams about how many kids they want, names of those kids, etc. But few couples talk about how they would respond to specific child discipline situations. Now, I know what you're thinking... who cares? We can think about that stuff later. But it is not just about the kids, it's about your unique differences in perspective. These things are important to talk about NOW so that you can LAUGH about them with a counselor instead of arguing about them post-honeymoon. 

The biggest help for us personally was the in-depth discussion on finances. Since our sweet wedding day, we have had financial ups and downs in life that have come with both the times of the economy and with job losses, etc. I truly believe that those significant conversations we had in those sessions helped us set a tone and understand each other on such a deeper level that when those challenges have come, we have been able to approach them as a team instead of two individuals who do not understand each other.

Counseling sessions usually focus on 7 areascompatibility, expectations, personalities as well as families of origin, communication, conflict resolution, intimacy and sexuality and lastly, long-term goals.

The BEST part of premarital counseling? With the right person, it really is FUN! We were fortunate to have our sessions with our Associate Pastor and he made it so much fun. In wedding planning, let's be honest and say that MOST brides do the majority of the planning for the big day. So it was a way that we took time to be together and focus on what the big day really was about - the rest of our lives together. We got to do this wonderful thing together and it was an amazing part of our engagement experience!

So WHO should YOU get premarital counseling from? The first place most readily available to couples is the pastor or associate pastor in your church. However, if you don't have a minister or do not have a church affiliation, no worries. It is still something you should look into! There are lots of great marriage counselors out there with lots of great premarital counseling techniques. Do your research (get referrals) and find the one that is right for YOU! In fact, in some cases, you may be required to take your church's premarital counseling sessions, but maybe you don't feel close to your counselor or you didn't get much out of it. I encourage you to find someone else out there to get additional counseling from! 

IF YOU HAVE ELOPED... or have had a quickie wedding and did not get the counseling, it's not too late! Again, the point of counseling is not to talk you out of marriage or to see if you really should get married. It is simply to help prepare you for the wonderful journey ahead. It would be a great way to start your marriage!!! I recommend finding someone to take you through the sessions! Studies have shown that these sessions are the most beneficial either before the wedding or within the first 6 months of marriage so don't delay!

In the end, the sad truth is 50% of marriage end in divorce these days. And I'd say in most of those marriages (minus the arranged / green card / forced situations) - I guarantee people didn't think they would be one of the statistics on the wrong side of that 50%. And like I said in the first paragraph, studies have shown that premarital counseling helps decrease your chance of divorce by up to 30%!!!! How awesome is that!! So what are you waiting for? It should be an educational FUN part of your wedding journey! RELISH it! ;)

See you in a couple weeks for our next topic "Money Matters".

1 comment:

Tania said...

Great stuff! I know that the counseling helped jumpstart our marriage in the right direction!! I would highly recommend it as well! =)