Premarital counseling might seem like the last item you want on your wedding to-do list, but consider it the best gift to your marriage. Couples counseling isn’t just for those in crisis, or who are experiencing relationship difficulties. Learning to equip your relationship early on with strong communication, compromise, and problem-solving skills will help your marriage thrive.
If There’s No Problem, What Do We Talk About?
Communication can be a good place to start since it is the main way you will share your life with each other. You might start by exploring your communication styles, including how you respond to conflict, how you ask for help, or how you are most comfortable expressing your feelings. It is also helpful to recall each partner’s specific responses during previous arguments and examine how your communication styles affected the outcome.
We can also learn a great deal from how our own families fought. Did your parents avoid difficult topics? Problem-solve effectively? Work towards resolution or cave and build up bitterness and resentment? Simply knowing how you and your partner were taught how to communicate will provide a deep level of empathy and understanding, help keep expectations realistic, and show areas of growth. Couples counseling can be a safe place to talk about any changes you feel you want to make so that your communication, in good times and bad, remains open, honest, and secure.
Moving Forward on the Same Page
Building a life together will involve some huge life decisions and future commitments. Before walking down the aisle is the perfect time for you to talk about how your shared life will ask you to be on the same page or require finding common ground.
Important topics to explore can include: how you spend and save money, how you value spending time together and alone, your personal and professional ambitions, your desire for children, your sexual compatibility, your relationship with your own and each other’s family, your spiritual and religious values, your fears, and your expectations, both big and small — everything from where you expect to be living to how you expect to divide up household chores. This is where couples counseling can be fun and exciting — you’ll learn new things, find new connections, and open up channels of communication you never before knew existed.
I’m Afraid I’ll Learn Something I Don’t Like
A normal hesitation about couples counseling is the fear that one or both partners will discover something that could change, or even ruin, the relationship. If both partners approach couples counseling with openness, generosity, and love — not a desire to punish or change each other — new discoveries should feel exciting and intriguing.
Exploring your individual selves and past experiences with a skilled counselor can bring a delight to learning something new about the person you know best and letting them delight in discovering new parts of you. Understanding how to navigate and, even relish, in personal discoveries will bring a lasting gift: when routine sets in, as it does in all marriages, you’ll take heart in knowing something new is always waiting to be discovered if you take the time and commitment to explore it.
Common Ground, Compassion, and Compatibility
Committing to each other means both enjoying the excitement of blending your lives together while also understanding the challenges that lie ahead. Meeting with a couples counselor can be part of building a solid foundation for your future relationship and doing the work of becoming good partners. Couples counseling doesn’t guarantee that problems won’t arise in your relationship. As you move forward together, you’ll inevitably face surprises, disappointments, and hardships. Now is the time to find ways to face them together with intimacy, compassion, and solid strategies. Of course, couples counseling isn’t always about fixing problems. It can also strengthen what’s already working. And who doesn’t want more of a good thing?