colleen hurll counselling

7 Things Pre-Marriage Counselling Can Do for You

Pre-Marital CounsellingThough most people go into it knowing that marriage is work, it is hard to really understand the emotional drain, loss of identity, and mental stress that can quickly enter the picture, for better or for worse.

Ideally, you as a couple will get through these challenges and be better for them as you uncover new strengths in each other, but it will be a lot easier if you already have a way to work through all the misunderstandings, outside pressures, and mistakes. Also if you know how you’re going to manage your finances. This is the genius of pre-marriage counselling.

Here’s what it can do for you:

1) Bring life plans to light:

You may have talked about your future lives together a zillion times, but there is still something to be said for formalising your plans in front of an impartial observer. Maybe you thought you were aligned on taking care of your aging parents, but then you find your partner had other plans for the money you thought was set aside. Maybe your partner assumed your kids would be cared for solely by you, but you had planned on daycare. These things may not be dealbreakers, but there is a lot of comfort in not feeling blindsided by unexpected disagreements.

2) Instill good communication habits:

If you are used to discussing problems and feelings, it will be easier to continue the tradition the first time you get really upset when your partner assumes you are taking out the rubbish bins and you both forget. Then later when you both feel that you aren’t being respected for all your hard work, you can remember and recreate the lists you once made about what you admire about each other. And maybe when one of you makes one seriously stupid mistake, the other one can open the discussion in a respectful manner, rather than with lots of screaming or the silent treatment.

3) Give you a format for discussing arguments:

You know you won’t agree all the time, but do you have a plan for what to do when things get really personal? Do you walk away? Do you push aside your feelings and soldier on? In pre-marriage counselling you may have already practiced how to argue without rejecting each other.  If you can understand and appreciate each other’s point of view, even when you disagree, you can each feel as though you are always heard. And when it becomes obvious that you are different people with different ideas, you can decide how and where to work together, rather than admitting defeat or building a wall of resentment.

4) Help you understand how each of you deal with various stressors and how you can work together to get through them:

Of course people have different feelings about finances, in-laws, problems at work, and any number of things, but when marriage partners react completely differently to stress, it is easy to feel disconnected. For example, some people want to talk about the things that stress them out and some people want to be alone with their thoughts. Knowing which type your partner is helps you better manage the stress. If you want to talk and they don’t, you can try first giving them some time and then scheduling a sit-down, so you are both served in your preferences.

5) Help you learn how to make financial goals together:

Simple things like how much money do you feel okay spending without consulting each other, more complicated things like what is your budgeting style, and high-level value things like what are your savings goals are important to know about your future spouse. People that do not see eye-to-eye or are not willing to compromise and stick to it on finances are going to have a hard time navigating their lives together.

6) Help you take seriously marriage, love, and commitment and make them a priority:

You are in love and see this person as your life-partner. Maybe you can not imagine life without your partner. But, some day things will change. Romance wears off. People keep growing up. Maybe you’ll decide you hate your job and your whole life. Maybe your kids will accidentally burn down the house and you’ll feel like throwing in the towel. Cute quirks will definitely become nails-on-a-chalkboard. Eventually, commitment becomes a daily decision and love becomes much more an act of selflessness than a feeling. Respect for each other above all close family members and friends becomes essential to having a true lifelong joining together in marriage. If you can talk about this and make the commitment now, then all you have to do is keep renewing it.

7) Prepare you to make adjustments:

The process of pre-marriage counselling asks you to really think about who you two are as people and how your lives are going to mesh. It won’t be long before you realize you might need to adjust some of your expectations. Adjustments are part of the journey of marriage and might be necessary at every new stage. Think you know how to co-parent theoretical kids? Just wait. How about handling a layoff? Or an unexpected illness? The best-laid plans are made to be amended. And since you will have already spent some time with an impartial professional, you can be prepared to use counseling again if needed sometime down the line.

Believe it or not, pre-marriage counselling can be a romantic and affirming experience for you and your future spouse. Sure, it helps you go into marriage with your eyes wide open, your expectations reasonable, and your relationship skills honed, but it will also remind you why you are getting married in the first place. It will give you a firm foundation, hope, and a positive outlook for a loving and long-lasting marriage.

If you’re getting married and would like to organise pre-marriage counselling, please contact me on 0413 181 320 for a FREE 15-minute phone consultation on how I can help you.

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Colleen Hurll, Counsellor and Psychotherapist

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