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I wrote in another page of this website about couples counselling and how I experienced this when I left my wife seven years ago. This may be a strange thing to say after three decades of marriage but perhaps my first wife and I should have considered premarital counselling before we got married in the summer of 1982.
What is premarital counselling you may ask. After all, if a couple love each other enough to want to get married then surely this is enough. But love doesn’t always conquer all. I don’t mean to sound crass but getting married is one of the biggest decisions one can take. You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it out on a test run would you…?
Premarital counselling helps prepare couples prepare for marriage. It can give you the best possible chance of forging a strong, healthy relationship, therefore a stable and long marriage – till death do you part. It can also help you identify weaknesses that, if left to fester, could cause problems when you’re married.
It cover a wide range of topics such as:
· Relationships with other members of both families
· Individual values and beliefs
· Whether you both desire to have children or perhaps only one of you does – or perhaps neither of you do but you don’t want to upset your husband/wife.
· Having time away from each other e.g. a lads or girls night out – although you love each other very much it can do you good to have time away from each other even it it’s just for a short time.
Premarital counselling can help both parties with their communication skills. How often has your partner ‘gone in a huff’ (as we say in Scotland – that is not speaking) and, try as you might, you don’t know what you’ve done to upset them.
‘What’s wrong with you?’
‘Nothing’ comes the classic reply and you immediately know there is!
Such counselling can help you both set realistic expectations for your marriage and can even help you deal with the inevitable conflict when it arrives. I’ve heard elderly married couples say things like ‘we’ve been married for 50 years and never had a cross word’. I’m not so sure I believe this, but premarital counselling can help deal with your emotions whenever an argument flares.
Of course, it’s important to be aware that your personal values and opinions may not be shared by your new married partner and their family may well have a different outlook on life. My present wife’s parents are now both sadly dead, but my first wife’s mother was someone who I got on very well with. However, others aren’t quite so lucky.
Couples attending premarital counselling may be asked to complete separate questionnaires which will help determine how they feel about each other and can also help identify each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The counsellor will then evaluate the answers and discuss common goals.
As I say getting married is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. So why not prepare as thoroughly as you can?