You probably believe that you and your fiancé know each other completely and are delightfully compatible, that your present dewy-eyed regard for one another will last throughout your lives.
Most couples start out with that same boundless optimism, but more than 40 percent of marriages don’t make it anywhere near “so long as you both shall live.” People change, they learn things about one another that they didn’t know, life gets complicated and that perfect unity crumbles. The encouraging statistic is that couples that seek counseling before marriage are 30 percent less likely to consider splitting.
Premarital counseling is particularly effective because the insights and behaviors you learn can carry through your years together, and if you have had a good experience with premarital counseling you’re more likely to seek help if you run into trouble later on.
Below, five top ways that premarital counseling can save you from later grief:
1. You’ll address potential areas of disagreement. You agree on a lot – green chili Yes, runny cheeses No; Chargers over the Patriots; Christmas and Hanukkah; three kids, two boys and a girl; joint checking; suburbs over city. But, how will you decide where you spend the holidays? Whose career will determine your next move? What if you aren’t successful at getting pregnant? What if you get pregnant one more time than you want? There are countless serious issues that you probably haven’t even thought of, more-less know if you are in agreement. Counseling won’t settle or address everything, but the more issues you consider before marriage the less you will have to respond to when you’re emotional and confused.
2. You’ll dig deeper. Counseling will take you behind whatever façade you each like to present to the other and reveal more of who you really are and what you really feel, fear, want, and need from each other.
3. You’ll learn about intimacy. You learned about sex in Mrs. Jacobsen’s fifth-grade classroom (you’ve been trying to forget that experience ever since). You’ve been around a bit since then. But what you may not have learned, and counseling can bring out, is how someone of the opposite sex thinks and feels about sex – not just the mechanics but the emotions that surround this important part of intimacy.
4. You’ll learn how to talk. You know how to talk. You talk all the time. In fact, you may talk more than one of you would like. But effective talking is a skill that must be learned. Counseling will help you recognize when it’s time for a serious and focused conversation. You’ll learn how to keep the talking balanced and nonjudgmental. You’ll learn how to listen as much as you talk.
5. You’ll learn how to fight. You are two individuals conducting the complications of life in tandem. There is no way around disagreements, anger, and fighting. Counseling can prepare you by teaching you how to express your differing views without doing irreparable damage, to recognize a fight that’s run its course and needs to be ended, to forgive one another, and to find a way to accommodate your differences and move on.