Premarital counseling can cost money and take time, at a moment when you are likely particularly stressed about planning a wedding and beginning a new life with your partner. Yet it’s a commitment that pays real dividends. It can improve the success of your relationship and the quality of your lives together.
You are getting married.
That’s right, that’s enough right there. You are about to smash together two completely separate lives, and there will inevitably be places where they do not go together easily. Some time, some where, the pieces will not fit. This outcome is one hundred percent predictable.
For some, it can lead to irreconcilable differences over major issues. Failing to discuss whether or not to have children, how to participate in religious life, or where to live can have serious consequences. For others couple it may just result be a cringe and a shudder every time your partner puts the toilet paper roll the wrong way, but keep in mind this will ideally happen FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Don’t let yourselves get blindsided by these things when you are actually trying to live your lives together. Deal with them ahead of time.
You need an external perspective.
If you’re getting married, you are likely in love. Love is associated with a a plethora of neurochemical changes but a huge one is oxytocin, which literally makes us think less clearly.
There are so likely to be preventable issues that you aren’t seeing. This is a good thing overall, you don’t want to be honing in on every criticism about your partner already! But a trained therapist can help you to plan for these small problems, so that they don’t turn into big ones later on.
3. Crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s
You need to make sure you discuss the big issues, like whether or not you want children and how you plan to handle finances, before tying the knot. A trained professional can walk you through the nuances of those issues as well, and help you look at questions like how would you like to approach discipline and how important financial autonomy is to you.
Buffering against the stress of wedding planning
Wedding planning is extremely stressful in its own right, with a million different decisions and logistical issues to deal with. On top of this, it also often becomes the grounds on which the dynamics of both families get played out. Parents or either partner can be over-involved, or under-involved, perfectionism may get triggered, or you may find yourselves arguing over unimportant details. Dealing with these issues effectively will provide the foundation for a strong and healthy marriage.
According to an extremely large meta-analytic study in 2003, couples that engage in premarital counseling are 30% more likely to have a successful marriage. Divorce is devastating personally, financially, and in just about every other way that you can imagine. Of course nobody wants to think about the possibility of divorce as they are heading into a wedding, but it’s a possibility that can’t be ignored.
An ounce of prevention, as they say, is worth a pound of cure.
Dr. Dana Harron offers premarital counseling and couples’ counseling at Monarch’s Fairfax City offices. She works in person and occasionally is able to facilitate online therapy. Dr. Harron also specializes in eating disorders and trauma, and is the author of the book Loving Someone with an Eating Disorder.