PRE MARRIAGE COUNSELLING
Before your marriage begins…
At the beginning of a couple relationship, before you commit for a marriage or for living in together, usually your feelings are positive towards each other and your relationship compatibility level is high. Hence, this is the best time to think consciously about each other and understand what could be potential areas of conflict. Pre marriage counselling can provide a couple platform to understand each other along with their own needs. It helps a couple develop communicating styles as well as conflict resolution skills which would help you build a committed future together. It helps you get insights and become more intentional in your interactive ways as a couple and helps you work your way together.
Marriage is a huge commitment and responsibility. Premarital counselling is educative in nature as it would help you understand how different personalities come together from different socio economic backgrounds and how you initially underplay your needs and expectations, creating subtle potential conflicts. It would help each of you understand how attitudes towards factors like money, parenting, marriage, sex, family, friends, divorce, infidelity, career are usually very different between a couple. These basic differences are never acknowledged usually. This awareness would help you negotiate expectations, understand what is important and progress towards a practical couple identity. It is important to understand what this relationship means to each other and what your different or similar life goals are. All of us have our own set of subtle unique values that centre our life; clashes in the value system hurt us to our core. As a couple, reflecting exercises can be a powerful experience in bonding and committing to the marriage on the other hand. We all, as individuals, come from various different cultural and familial backgrounds; in this condition, it would be foolish to think that they would not be any conflicts and differences.
Expected bumps on the way:
• Pre marriage counselling prepares you to deal with possible post marital depression: More often than not, soon after getting married, you are confronted with a new identity to deal with, such as becoming a wife or husband, a daughter or son in law, a sister or brother in law, etc… Sometimes it is difficult to cope with these new identities, and you may start feeling lonely, confused, regretful, shameful and depressed. Through couple therapy, premarital counselling can prevent post marital depression by bringing into your awareness these new identities that you will bear after marriage. Counselling can enable you to understand yours and your spouse’s expectations, needs, attitudes and can further help you clear potential road blocks. This could be done with the help of skill development during individual or couple therapy.
Sometimes it is a smooth relationship ride till we are asked to commit to a marriage. Post which things do not look about the same. There is a fear of commitment in either of you which you might not be aware of or not be able to express. This leads to anxiety, confusion, shame or guilt which could hamper patterns of communication. One might either show aggression or withdrawal. In this situation premarital counselling can help you accept and confront your fears as well as validate them. It would further help you as a couple to slow things down and follow a process of committing to marriage, which is a long term (hopefully lifetime) institution.
• Premarital counselling helps in the prevention of divorce: Researches show that couples who have gone through some form of marriage counselling whether religious or psychological are actually the ones that remain more satisfied in their marital union. Divorce rate is increasing every decade. Even with these insights, a lot of couples who are not able to cope up with their marriages are resistant to counselling as they see it as sign of weakness and the thought of it fills them with shame. On the other hand, premarital counselling or marriage counselling is a courageous decision of acceptance where you are ready to confront your issues under the guidance and expertise of a counsellor who has helped many couples in a similar situation. Forms of consistent pre marital counselling or marriage counselling have shown evidence to prevent divorce. Timely intervention is important. For the sake of the couple getting married and the future of their children, premarital counselling is a need of the hour. Couples are advised to seek counselling in the beginning stages of conflicts so that your relationship compatibility is not damaged but sails through the various challenges that arise of both inside and outside the married life.
• Pre marriage counselling helps couples improve communication patterns: Communication as a tool is a significant one in enhancing the overall happiness in your married life. It is a core relationship skill and aids in conflict resolution. When a couple is not efficiently able to communicate with each other, the trust between them breaks down and they start losing hope in their marriage. As a result you stop caring for each other. It is important that a couple is able to express themselves to each other in a constructive manner consistently. Aggressive patterns of communication, sarcasm, withdrawals from each other for long times are unhealthy and do not lead to conflict resolution. Communication helps in emotional coping together and developing trust in each other. In a relationship, each partner should feel a secured existence as the other accepts him/her unconditionally and communicates in a non judgemental manner. It is the most important aspect of a healthy marriage. Pre marital counselling helps you develop communication tools. It teaches you to argue productively. It also teaches you to listen and understand the other person’s needs. When you are together, you naturally start taking each other for granted. Pre marital counselling helps you to honestly express your positive feelings and love to each other and emerge stronger through adversities. There are times when you need to understand that all issues cannot be resolved and if you are stuck at an issue then evaluate significance of it. More often than not, couples who choose divorce feel that they do not get along well due to their differences in attitudes towards money, career, family or maybe infidelity but it is usually due to lack of effective communication.
• Premarital counselling is a must to diffuse pre marriage long-term conflicts: Some of us are in relationships where even before we take the decision to get married, there have been significant and consistent conflicts. In these situations, it is mandatory that we address the source of conflicts before we commit to a marriage where things escalate into issues of larger proportions and leave no room for reconciliation. Premarital counselling is a proven method of enhancing longevity and a stable marriage. It helps you work through the negativity of your current issues and come to an agreement on potential hot issues. It helps in giving a healthy start to a marriage so that with sustained efforts you can save yourself from divorce which is mentally, emotionally, physically and financially exhausting. It saves your marriage from irreparable damage. When you have been in a relationship for a long time, it is healthy to go for counselling so that it helps you refresh your good time memories and deepens your bond with a new perspective on sources of conflicts. Unhappy marriages take away a sense of well being both from yours and your would be children’s’ health later on.
“Research shows that couples who have gone through some form of pre marriage counselling whether religious or psychological are actually the ones that are happier in their marital union.”
The grand wedding goal…
Usually when we decide to get married the spotlight turns to the planning of the grand wedding and the celebrations that come along. In the process we do not focus upon the unique potential marriage risks every couple faces. Marriage is a long time perhaps a life time commitment that itself needs a lot of preparation for it to sail through smoothly. Pre marital counselling could help you get a view of the potentials dangers that could shake your early parts of new marital life all along equipping you to handle the phase efficiently. One should take some time away and reflect together on the upcoming realities of life. You cannot figure out everything without giving it its due share of time and talking out. It helps you discover something new about each other and align yourself as a couple. Premarital counselling gives you an opportunity to discuss issues due to which most couples argue so that you can come to an agreement on the same and prevent potential serious fights.
Resistance to counselling
There is this myth which a lot of us conceive that our marriage is going to be rosy as everything started off well with the relationship and engagement. With the courtship being rosy, it colours our judgement of all kinds to seek preparation and solidify the companionship. Researches show more of male resistance in looking for help. All marriages go through difficulties, with insights and perspectives they strengthen deeper. That is what counselling offers. There is particularly more of male resistance found in seeking help when problems appear. Premarital counselling is thought provoking. There are some hard truths and questions we brush inside the carpet. Despite compelling evidence on increasing divorce rates, couples are wary of counselling. Many times, this is also due to lack of awareness on being able to find good psychologists who are non-judgemental and respect your confidentiality. Online counselling is a good balance to these fears. Sometimes counselling need not be about heavy issues, it can talk about expectations from a marriage in a light hearted way, creating long term relationship compatibility, sources of conflict and their resolution.
There is no perfect marriage
Sometimes we look around and see couples who seem to be very happy in their marriage despite all the odds around them. The fact is that everyone has had disagreements and arguments in their relationships. Usually all couples, at some points in their marriage, contemplate divorce despite how they appear outwardly. Most likely, these are couples who have either sought counselling or have developed skills through other mediums like modelling their behaviour after other successful couples. You have to learn to keep the channels of communication open so that you can satisfy yourself as a couple and do not feel miserable and lonely. While doing the same, you should give each other constructive feedback often. Pre marriage counselling helps you become more aware of yourself as well as empathetic towards your would-be spouse. It also teaches you how to sometimes compromise to bring alive your marriage and surprise each other from time to time.
Premarital counselling provides a safe and neutral environment that would help you develop self awareness, empathy towards each other, clarity in expectations, communication tools, conflict resolution and problem solving skills, learning to take a time out and not escalate arguments. It would help you develop trust, give you a reality bite, educate you on each other’s attitudes and beliefs, help you feel secured and trust each other. It also helps you accept each other and recognise each others’ weakness and also understand that they are not going to drastically improve after marriage. All of the above would let you be in love with your spouse in a stable marriage, making a commitment to the marriage despite adversities. At the same time, it is suggested to get into marriage counselling, from time to time, depending on the challenges you may face in your marital life. If you are about to get married and feel that your couple can benefit from premarital counselling, you can ask me a question or book an appointment in order to give the best chances to have a successful marriage and improve your relationship compatibility.