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.

How to Bridge The Couple Communication Gap

Bridging the couple communication gapWe hardly hear of a couple who did not have a few bumps in their life. All relationship problems stem from the fact that relationships involve two different individuals. They contribute two different sets of emotions, experiences, beliefs, point of views and expectations. When these two worlds collide, a relationship conflict sprouts.

Most couple’s inability to sort out these issues can be traced back to one thing: lack of effective communication. The two individuals bring along their personal level of communication skills.

Most couples weigh talking and communicating in the same scale. By simply asking your spouse about his day or about the kids does not mean you are communicating important things. Communication involves a more open and worthwhile talk with your partner.

But better communication is a skill that can be learnt and perfected.

So if you are a victim of constant conflicts with your spouse the following helpful tips might be able to steer you out of your relationship troubles

1. Pause To Listen

How many times have you been so caught up in a conversation with your significant other that you forgot to stop and listen to his/her point of view? Especially when you are in the moment, it is even more difficult to remember this tactic.

It is naturally difficult for us to pull aside out our opinion when you are trying to prove yourself right. This is because when placing an argument, we are so afraid of not being heard that we choose to keep talking. Ironically, this is the behaviour which makes us unlikely to be heard.

A healthy conversation should involve a two way communication. It should always be intercepted with pauses to make place for your spouse’s opinion. So next time you want to complete your side of the argument, simply stop and try to listen for a change. Maybe the feedback is the solution you both are looking for.

2. Force Yourself To Hear It Out

You might have been involved in countless conversations where you may have stopped talking but your mind is still spinning around ideas that “you” have to impose in a conversation. So you are unable to concentrate on what is being said. You may not be able to focus your attention.

But there is a proven method that you can use to force yourself to listen. “Reflection” is a method implemented by therapists in their sessions. You are just required to rephrase what your partner says in your own words to avoid being distracted. This will ensure that you are wholly attentive instead of wandering off on one of your tangents while thinking of a good rebuttal. But make sure you use the right tone while rephrasing because sounding sarcastic won’t be able to help the situation you are in at all!

3. Honesty is the Key

The secret behind a successful relationship is to be honest about yourself. Most people might not enjoy being very open about their lives and their personal feelings. But when two individuals begin sharing a life, it becomes essential to be more open about yourself. Hiding behind lies, concealing your true emotions or giving the silent treatment are a few of the major barriers towards a healthy relationship.

When sharing with your special someone, you are expected to reveal and discuss stuff that you have never talked about with another individual. Some people like to keep secrets. But secrets that start eating away at the root of your relationship should be discouraged. Being open with your partner does not mean discussing trivial details about your day. It simply means being completely vulnerable and honest unabashedly.

You might fear that it will open you to hurt and resentment as well. Thus you allow yourself and your spouse to explore the full potential of your relationship.

4. Notice The Non-Verbal Signs

Much can be understood by just observing the body language of the person you are talking to keenly. Body language is an essential component of an effective communication. So keep a lookout for folded arms, eye contact, facial expressions or even a loud tone. These subtle hints might help improve the way you contribute in a conversation.

Reading these non-verbal signs takes time and patience but once you develop a habit you will be more attuned to what they mean. Also make sure your body language does not give any negative signs that can be damaging for your partner.

5. Choose the Right Time to Talk

Very frequently you may find your discussions morph into arguments just because you touched a topic at an inappropriate time. It is not necessary that you need to be heard the minute you have an idea or a feeling. Using your experience with your spouse, you may be able to time important conversations when keeping certain factors in mind.

Bothering a spouse who had a bad day at work will only escalate his irritability and it will result in unhealthy results. Having important conversations before bedtime is usually not a good idea.

6. Watch Your Tone

The manner in which you communicate an idea may have an impact on how it is heard. Getting too emotional during big decision making conversations will usually lead nowhere. Similarly keeping a lid on your anger will help cultivate more open grounds for a discussion.

In your desire to “win” an argument, you might get irrationally rude and imposing. You should know when to back off and keep your calm. You might have to compromise on some of your opinions. When questioning bowing down, convince yourself how unhealthy it is to prioritise being right over your partner’s happiness.

Nobody wants to be in a unhappy relationship where they are always “right”. So be careful of the way you project your opinions and avoid unnecessary hurt. Sometimes humour and playfulness can add the element that creates a friendly atmosphere. It helps lighten frustrations and is tackles the situation more gently.

Nobody can master the art of perfect communicator. But better communication starts with one partner trying to improve and it may serve as a motivation for your significant other to contribute to your efforts.

If you’re wanting help with  your relationship communication, please contact me on 0413 181 320 for a FREE 15-minute phone consultation on how I can help you.

photo credit: Thomas Hawk

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