Congratulations! You are getting married! Does just saying that out loud make you nervous? Do you start to get sweaty when you think about actually saying your vows? Or possibly you have never felt so sure of anything in your life. Whatever the case, it is always helpful seek out premarital counseling. Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting times in life. It can also be a very stressful time. Joining two lives together is difficult enough without the added pressure of preparing for a huge event, blending families together, and possibly moving into a new home. It can be an incredibly joyful time that is full of laughter and anticipating, but it can also be wrought with anxiety and tense nerves. It is important to prepare yourself for not only the wedding, but for a marriage for a lifetime.
The person performing the wedding, the officiant, may require that you participate in a certain number of premarital counseling sessions before the wedding. This is not always required, but even when it is not mandatory, it is always a good idea. Discussing your relationship and your future can never be bad, and it can only reveal truth and topics for deeper discussion. In some states, those wishing to get married under the age of 18 must conduct premarital counseling by law. While it is not required by law for most of us, it is always beneficial.
Premarital Counseling: Sometimes Required, Always Beneficial
Getting married bring many emotions for most of us. Perhaps we grew up with the example of a happy and healthy marriage in our parents. Alternatively, many of us have never seen a healthy relationship modeled for us. When we are only used to seeing negative patterns of behavior, it can be difficult to create a new reality in our own marriage. We all come into marriage with certain preconceived notions about how marriage should look and what is expected of both partners. This is perfectly natural, but it can create strife in the relationship. Exploring these preconceptions before saying your vows can prevent a great deal of trouble and heartache in the future.
The personal history that each person brings to a wedding also can affect how we feel about marriage. Maybe this is not your first marriage. Maybe you have a great deal of fear and concern about how this next time can be different. Perhaps you are planning a wedding, but unsure of whether you even want to go through with it at all. Exploring all of these factors is so much easier to do before the wedding than after. It is so important to take the time to focus on your relationship and start it in the most healthy way possible.
Planning a wedding alone is enough to cause strife in the relationship. Perhaps you have never had to spend much time at all with your future spouse’s friends or family. Maybe you have never even met them! After you do spend time with them, it could possibly cause you concern about what you are getting into by entering into this marriage. This is common and natural at times, and can often be addressed easily in premarital counseling.
If premarital counseling is not absolutely required for you and your partner by the officiate of your wedding, you are still making an excellent choice by considering taking the time to discuss different factors in your relationship. Establishing a secure long-term connection is not easy and we have all heard the horrible statistics regarding lasting marriages. If nearly half of all marriages will not last, how can you make your marriage different? Thriveworks premarital counselors want to help you avoid becoming one of those statistics. Your marriage will undoubtedly face hardships, challenges, stress, and pain. Be prepared for this as best you can. Seeking premarital counseling before saying, “I do,” is a wonderful way to do this.
When Should We Start Premarital Counseling?
Whether premarital counseling is required or not, it is always helpful. Whether you have a week before the wedding, or you haven’t set a date yet, we can help your marriage begin in the most healthy way possible. In fact, some couples seek “pre-engagement” counseling in order to determine whether that next step of wedding planning should even be considered.
If you or your partner is uncertain of the next step in your relationship, seeking counseling is a wonderful way to explore these feelings and help your relationship move forward. Being scared of commitment seems to almost be an epidemic today. Premarital counseling can help you discover what the blocks to commitment may be, and what personal issues and fears a partner is bringing to the relationship.
As is true in all forms of counseling and therapy, there are often many topics that are easier to talk about with a neutral third party present in the room. It can be scary and intimidating to bring up fears or concerns that you have about your spouse. You do not want to hurt your loved one’s feelings, but you also want to have your concerns heard and discussed. It can be reassuring and calming to have a neutral mediator in the room to help work through the thoughts and feelings that can develop from being completely open and honest with one another.
Many couples are unprepared for the number of compromises and decisions that will have to be made in a marriage. There are many issues to discuss, whether a couple is in their first or thirtieth year of marriage.
A professional at Thriveworks Charlotte Premarital Counseling will help you and your partner discuss many of these in advance, such as:
- Common interests and leisure activities
- Role expectations
- Communication styles
- Religion and worship attendance
- Household duties and expectations
- Budget and finance
- Children and parenting styles
- Public or private education
- Sexuality and intimacy
- Needs for space and privacy
- Where the family unit will reside
- Finances and debt
- Occupations and careers
- Holiday expectations and travel
- Relationships with extended family and in-laws
This is a long list, but it is not even close to exhaustive! Blending two lives together is not easy, and requires compromise and change of both spouses. Discussing these topics ahead of time is such a more calm way to begin your marriage. When the first holiday season is upon you and you find yourself wondering where you might go and who you might visit, having discussed this very topic in premarital counseling becomes extremely important and calming.
Further, simply because you follow through with premarital counseling does not indicate that you absolutely have to actually say, “I do.” In fact, sometimes couples undergo premarital counseling, and then find it best that they do not pursue marriage, or that a marital relationship might be a fit for them in the future. You may decide to postpone the wedding, or you may be more sure than you have ever been that this is the right decision for you. The choice will always be solely up to you and your partner, after you have explored your relationship in a deep and meaningful way.
Premarital Counseling: Good for the Relationship and the Individual
Many studies have shows that premarital counseling is beneficial for the relationship and can help minimize fears and anxiety. However, we also believe and have seen that counseling in general is helpful for the individuals in the relationship. Most of us, in our hurried and busy lives, do not get a chance to just sit and discuss our personal issues. Being in an open and honest environment where communication is encouraged and expected can help foster growth and emotional health for both members of the relationship.
As with most types of therapy and counseling, some of the benefits include:
- Confidence and assertiveness
- Avoiding dependency and co-dependency
- Having realistic expectations of others
- Developing coping skills
- Creating healthy communication skills
- Uncovering past hurts and pain
- Identifying serious underlying issues or difficulties
Some of us may have a stigma about counseling or therapy. In some parts of the country or in some families, you may be the first person that you know to have gone to counseling. Being a part of premarital therapy or any other type of counseling does not imply that you have a “problem” that needs fixing, however. Instead, it shows that you are taking the time to be prepared for future challenges and that you are invested in making your relationship succeed.
Why Choose Thriveworks Charlotte Premarital Counseling?
Through premarital counseling, couples will discover problems they may face in the future, as well as develop skills to help their relationship survive the inevitable challenges it will face. Making an informed decision about the therapist or counselor that will help you on this journey of preparation for marriage is very important and should not be taken lightly.
Thriveworks counselors and therapists are experts in the mental health field. They are respected leaders in their community and have been published in leading publications, such as the Chicago Tribune, Prevention, Psychiatric Times, Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Journal of Mental Health Counseling. We are ready to put our expertise to work for your relationship.
Thriveworks premarital counselors are ready and willing to help you achieve your goals for your upcoming wedding. We believe that it is important to have appointments available and be ready when you are ready to contact us. Most counseling offices operate with a waiting list. We pride ourselves on not having a waiting list, and on having appointments available within 24 hours. We have extended hours and can work around your busy life and schedule.
We understand that calling us may not be an easy decision for you. You may be reluctant to put one more thing on your wedding planning schedule. You have a lot of commitments in your life; a lot of responsibility. Make a commitment to your future and your marriage. We are ready to help.