Being in love does some very interesting things to our thinking processes. Sometimes early warning signs of differences in thoughts, goals, financial management, problem-solving style can be overlooked or brushed aside in the whirl of romance. It can be particularly difficult to take the time out to think of such things once the demands of wedding planning begin.
Young couples may not have had the opportunity to realize that life with a partner can be very different than dating. Older partners may have some awareness of areas that led to conflict in prior relationships, but believe that "things are different this time", or that because of their past experiences they will know to "just not let that happen again". For others, the thought of talking about potentially difficult subjects such as money management, parenting styles, faith practices, or political leanings creates anxiety. As a result, these topics are avoided – and may become major points of contention sometime after the wedding.
Premarital counselling is an excellent forum to talk about potentially difficult topics in a supportive environment. Premarital counselling pushes couples to talk about their marriage goals both in the short, intermediate and long-term. Such counselling helps people to identify the reasons why they wish to get married, what they see as strengths and growing edges in themselves and their partners, and how they plan to support each other in working through those growing edges. Our Edmonton marriage counsellors enable couples to clarify these key areas and to develop the communication and problem-solving skills to achieve their marriage goals.
It is beneficial to consider couples counselling during your engagement to:
Strengthening Relationship Skills:
Research shows that most people tend to assume that others "think like I do". As a result, we are often surprised when our partner espouses a completely different view or opinion. While in many cases these differences are not crucial when couples unexpectedly find themselves on opposite sides of a decision, it can lead to confusion, disappointment, and arguments.
Pre-marital counselling not only helps each person to better understand their partner, it teaches skills on how to listen, support, and negotiate with their partner in a positive and productive manner. There are many relationships where the partners differ on key issues, but because each person feels confident their partner understands them, neither feels threatened by disagreement. If you know you can talk through challenges with your partner, you can feel much more confident about the strength of your current relationship and future marriage.
Positively Engage in Future Planning:
Many couples have hopes and dreams about what and how their lives should be like after marriage. It is impossible to plan and pre-negotiate for every contingency. It is important though, to have some common understanding on key areas. Lifestyle issues, children, how finances are handled, the breakdown of household chores, faith practices, and work/home-life balance, are common areas of contention and marital breakdown. Pre-marital counselling may help couples sketch out a path through these issues before things become complicated by marriage vows.
Cope with the Past:
Many people have past memories and experience that they do not want to bring into the future marriage. Sometimes people believe those events are "dealt with" and "done". Sometimes these remain as memories. At other times these old memories may seem to spring back to life, given the right set of factors. For example, a couple may be a fantastic parenting team until their children reached the age where one of the partners was sexually abused. In response to the age trigger, the historically abused parent might turn into an "protective dragon", which could be a huge change from their previously relaxed and child-led parenting approach. As one parent did not know about the abuse, and the other thought the fallout from the experience was long over, the misdirected fights around the change in parenting style could lead to family breakdown.
Pre-marital counselling can help individuals identify and discuss historical events with their future marriage partner. While in many cases such information sharing simply enriches the relationship bond, it may also provide important clues regarding future behaviors and decision making processes. Shared information can go a long way in creating compassion, understanding, and a willingness to problem solve, while withheld details may lead to defensiveness, aggression, and relationship shutdown.
Our Edmonton premarital counselling services focus on helping couples become comfortable in sharing their thoughts and goals. Through premarital work, couples learn to recognize each other’s strengths and growing edges, and how to problem solve collaboratively. Our aim is to help couples develop the skills to negotiate the challenges of marriage, so that the spark of love, companionship, and mutual respect never fades. If you wish to know more about our premarital counselling services, please contact us with any question or to book a session.