Premarital counselling is like a preparation for marriage. You may think you are all prepared, all arrangements in place and all you have to do is walk down the altar and live happily after. If this was the case, there would be no divorces. Marriage throws up situations that one doesn’t expect, and since it involves two people and sometimes their families, it’s always better to take a reality check before doing that.
Even royal personalities like Prince William and Kate Middleton went for premarital counselling before they got married. Being royalty, theirs is and was a different situation but even they decided to go in for it. They had sessions with the Bishop of London, Dr. Richard Chartres, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. In their case the public eye is on their marriage and now their family with the new addition to the family.
While this couple has a lot at stake, and yet has taken the step for premarital counselling to ensure that they understand each other, should give us a cue about how it can be a great help to couples planning to get married.
Why premarital counselling?
While courting is all about just having coffee, shopping, lunches and dinners and parties, marriage is nothing like the ‘dating’ period. It’s all about being responsible, having a schedule, starting a family, financial responsibilities and more. Premarital counselling will address all these issues and prepare each partner for this new role.
Benefits of Premarital Counseling
In a premarital counselling session, it will help each partner to see and identify areas likely to cause conflict later on. It could be finances, buying a house, when to start a family, how to cope with the demands of marriage and other factors.
Premarital counselling will also prepare one to anticipate an issue and be prepared. It is interesting to note that a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, which was conducted via random telephone survey, showed couples who had participated in some type of premarital counseling program were 31% less likely to divorce.
While we may love our going-to-be partner for life and overlook all his faults since you are blindly in love, a pre-marital counselling session will help you remove the rose-tinted glasses. It will prepare you for change – to look at your partner differently, and expect changes. On a positive note, counselling helps couples to understand finer nuances like – how to talk to each other, learn to listen to each other and respect each other.
Premarital counselling will focus on:
Counselling before the D-day, can help both partners to be practical. While each couple has dreams, it’s better to be realistic. Premarital counseling can ensure that you and your partner are on the same track. You can discuss your view of a successful marriage, expectations from each other, when to buy a house if that is a priority, savings plans, career choices. It will clearly define short term and long term goals.
Strengthen relationship skills
Premarital counselling will help you strengthen relationship skills.You can open up about issues that may be bothering you before marriage. This will help you understand your partner and help your partner understand your views. This helps both in communicating with each other and getting close. Premarital counseling enables couples to work on core relationship skills, like conflict resolution, by identifying areas that are potentially controversial.
It also makes us more realistic.
We were attracted to our partners because of their positive qualities, later after marriage, one sees only the negatives. Once we attend a premarital counselling session, this issue is also addressed. We will see it happening and be prepared for it and understand that it is a phase that every marriage goes through. It won’t shock you, if you are prepared and you will learn to take it in your stride, rather than wonder ‘where’ is the man you married.
It will prepare you about sex and how to initiate intimacy.
Sex can be a huge scare if you are not informed about it. You will learn how to explore each other and enjoy the act, rather than dread bed time.
Teach you about quarrels
Premarital counselling teaches how to deal with differences of opinion or even downright disagreements. No argument will surprise or shock you if you prepared for it.
Helps coping with the past
In case you have had relationships that have failed, premarital counselling will help you to make a strong foundation for the forthcoming marriage. Past experiences lead to emotional baggage and impact your current relationship. Counselling can provide you with insight and understanding for the situation. In case of past relationships, couples must be willing to make the effort to explore past experiences, resolve the issues and move forward with a clean slate. If this is not done, there may be problems later in the marriage of raking up the past.
Some questions you can ask yourself to prepare
There is a long list of questions that you may have to answer in a counselling session. This list is related to every aspect of your life – why this marriage, about financial planning, earnings and savings, sex, parents, children and much more.
You can ask yourself the following questions if you want to do self-counselling or be prepared to answer these questions at a session:
- Of all of the persons in your life that you have met and could have married, why are you choosing your partner?
- What attracted you to your partner initially and what do you believe your partner will help you become?
- What do you hope to achieve in the near future and the distant future regarding your career
- What do you expect from a marital partner regarding emotional support during exciting times, sad times, periods of illness and job loss?
- Will you set aside one night just to be together alone to catch up with each other and have fun?
- Are you both clear how much alone time the other needs?
- . Do you both expect to support the family financially and will that be different when kids arrive?
- . Are you both comfortable with the salary differential between you?
- .How will you deal with times when one or both of you has reached a midlife career point, and you need to change some aspects of your life?
- Will you need to be close to your parents either as you get together now or as they get older?
- Do both of you want children?
- If yes, when will you have children and if so how many?
- How far apart would you want your kids to be in age?
- Would abortion ever be acceptable before or after that?
- Will you have separate or joint checking accounts or both?
- If you do have different accounts, who will be responsible for which expenses?
- Who will pay the bills?
- How will you divide the expenses?
- Do you agree to have full financial disclosure about each of your personal financial situation at all times?
- How will strong disagreements about spending money be resolved?
- Is there any debt that either partner has incurred before the marriage (like previous loans or credit card debt).
- . How much time does each of you need to spend with your parents and how much do you expect your partner to join you?
- . How do you plan to spend holidays?
- . What will be the holiday expectations of each of your parents and how will you deal with those expectations?
- . What kind of support do you expect from your partner when the parents are putting pressure on you?
- . How often do you want to enjoy an intimate evening with each other?
- . What if one of you is not in the mood?
- How would you deal with differences in frequency of sexual desire?
- Are there certain things that are clearly off limits?
- What form of contraception will you use? Is it agreeable to both?
With marriage, it is important to be prepared like how we prepare ourselves to be qualified before we apply for a job. One needs to be prepared for emotional difficulties that are a part of life and relationships. Arguments, fights are inevitable in a long term union with another human being. So, it is definitely a good idea to invest in a premarital counselling session or workshops.