One of the best decisions my husband and I made before we got married was participating in pre-marital counseling. We went through our church and worked with one of the pastors and his wife, however, whether you’re religious or work with a licensed counselor, having these honest conversations is a very smart way to start your marriage.
Essentially, pre-marital counseling works through each person’s expectations about marriage. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we’ve all been influenced by movies, books, and music about what marriages are supposed to look like. The good-natured banter, never going to bed angry, being able to fix any fight or disaster in less than 100 minutes with some grand, romantic gesture. As many of you have probably already figured out, real life and real relationships just don’t work like that.
A couple of examples of things that we covered in our counseling sessions are division of household labor, long term goals, and children and financial plans. As much as we thought we were totally on the same page about these topics, we discovered that just talking about them with someone to guide our discussion was amazing. We were able to lay out exactly who does what around our house from who does the laundry to who pays the bills. We also talked about our career plans and when we’d like to start a family.
One of the things that we probably should have covered more in-depth was conflict resolution. Learning how to really pay attention to what the other person’s insecurities are and being able to stay on topic in an argument without getting defensive or one-upping each other would have saved us so many hurt feelings and hours of tension. Ask your counselor to help you set some ground rules for your disagreements. For example: we work really hard at never swearing at each other, just to help us stay respectful of the other person. Other smart guidelines are: when you’re getting angry, take a couple of minutes apart to really figure out what’s bothering you; repeat back to the other person what you believe they’re saying to be sure you’re actually talking about the same thing; and keep in mind that everyone fights. It’s how you move past it that strengthens you as a couple.
If you’re interested in finding out more or participating in pre-marital counseling, feel free to contact someone in leadership at your church, the people at Portland Premarital Counseling, or if you already see a therapist, ask them for recommendations. You’re planning on spending the rest of your life with this person, so take a little time out to build the strongest foundation you can.
And if you’re a movie buff who’s a fan of wedding rom-coms, check out License to Wed starring Mandy Moore, John Krasinski and Robin Williams. It’s a hilarious and heartwarming story about a couple in pre-marital counseling, sure to show you the importance as well as the humor of the situation.