"The Benefits of Premarital Counseling"
"The first duty of love is to listen.” -Tillich-
You have found the love of your life. You are convinced that you will be able to withstand any issue, any relationship problem, and face the world together, come what may. That’s good. You may be right. The love you have found is indeed, everlasting and all sustaining. However, the divorce rate in America is hovering around 50% and many marriages are going over the cliff to a lingering death. So, the mental health community is interested in placing a guard rail at the top of the cliff instead of sending an ambulance to the wreckage below! Premarital counseling is that guardrail.
Becoming involved in premarital counseling may open your eyes to some things you haven’t seen before. You may learn other ways of communicating and you just might discover a deeper meaning to the love you have already.
What is it exactly?
“The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.” -Dodds-
Premarital counseling is a type of therapeutic process that assists couples in preparing for marriage. The goal of premarital therapy is to further solidify the basis of the relationship, firm up its foundations, and foster a level of communication that will increase the marriage’s probability of success. Along the way, weaknesses and challenges may be discovered that give the couple some things to think about and work on.
Life is multidimensional and so are relationships. Marriage relationships encompass a host of topics and areas that will be touched upon during the premarital counseling process. A good marriage and family therapist will help you explore your relationship’s capacity for change and growth in areas such as finances, beliefs/values, affection/sex, children/parenting, family relationships, decision making, communication, and dealing with “baggage” or toxic emotions brought into the new marriage.
Premarital Counseling Tools
“Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate.”- Brickner-
Marriage and Family therapists have at their disposal many different kinds of assessment tools which can provide insight into a couple’s relationship dynamics. These may or may not be used during the premarital counseling process. They do offer keen insights into families of origin, personality traits, and areas of the relationship that may need improvement.
PREPARE/ENRICH is a very popular relationship inventory that may be used. The instrument is designed to help the couple focus on topics and their relationship to them. The PREPARE section is for couples considering marriage and the ENRICH portion targets married couples. This instrument produces a report that gives insight into nine different relationship areas. It also gives insight into the couple’s preferred relationship dynamics, roles, family background, and personality typology.
Genograms are pictorial depictions of a family of origin. The genogram uses symbols to tell the story of one’s family structure and history. Relatives are labeled to indicate patterns such as distant fathers, abusive relationships, deaths, diseases, and addictions. These pictorial explanations of family history can help the couple involved in premarital counseling to understand their own history and that of their significant other.
Personality Assessments are tools used to help people understand themselves and how they might fit into the overall human community. Some of the most common assessments include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, MBTI) and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory II (MMPI-II). Assessments are useful tools for the couple in counseling, but also help the therapist to understand sets of factors that may otherwise go unnoticed or revealed during the premarital counseling process.
The therapist’s training and counseling orientation may influence which assessment tools are used and how they are interpreted. Some therapists will also use inventories and surveys to gain information as they are a useful tools for self-awareness and relationship building. The results of these assessments can also stimulate conversation and communication surrounding a sensitive area of the premarital relationship.
Open Mind, Open Heart, Open Success!
“Love is no assignment for cowards.” –Ovid-
No subject is off limits in premarital counseling. All topics and discussions are confidential and treated as privileged information. It is a good choice to participate in premarital counseling as statistics prove that as many as 80% of couples who engage in premarital counseling remain married.
If you are thinking things such as “Statistics show us that every other marriage ends in divorce…and we don’t want to be a statistic,” or “We come from homes that were wrecked by divorce…we are looking for something different.” Then, use this valuable resource for yourself and your future marriage relationship.
Every year, in America couples spend approximately $1100.00 on rings, $20,000 on a wedding, and a honeymoon is averaging $3500.00. $19 billion is spent every year on wedding gift registries and the overall expenditure for honeymoons averages $4 billion.
It is a wise investment to spend some money on the most important aspect of your marriage, which is the actual working and functioning interpersonal relationship you have with the person you love. Involving yourself in a premarital counseling process will help heal old relationship wounds, provide insight into yourself and your partner, and open up ways for you both to resolve problems that may appear in the future.