Are You Seeking A Successful Marriage?
Are you and your partner planning to get married? Is there a nagging feeling that something doesn’t feel right, but you can’t quite put your finger on it? Perhaps you are discovering that your partner is hiding things and/or pretending to be as excited about the wedding as you are. Maybe you’re already having disagreements about finances, values or lifestyle choices, and you’re worried that you’re going to have to change in order to accommodate your partner or that your partner won’t change to accommodate you. Perhaps one of you wants to live close to your parents and the other wants to move away. It’s not unusual to have these real life issues burst your bubble when you are imagining a “happily ever after” life. Differences in how you envisage relating to in-laws and your own family of origin and/or work routines might suddenly feel like big deals.
Maybe you’re planning to get remarried and don’t want to make same mistakes again. It might be that you’re worried that your prospective spouse will put children from a previous marriage first, and that you’ll have to take second place. Perhaps you are fearful that your future spouse will never really be ‘yours.’ It’s possible that you are trying to allay your fears by telling yourself that your partner will change given time. Entering a marriage with these insecurities can sabotage the success of the relationship unless you deal with them openly prior to saying “I do.” If you are planning to marry someone who has lost a treasured partner through a tragic accident or illness, you may be worried about matching up to the ideal of that lost love. Going into a marriage feeling “less than” sets it up to fail.
Whether you have been married before or not, you may worry that you’ll make the same relationship mistakes as your parents, other family members, friends or even your past self. The prospect of getting married, while exciting, can also elicit feelings of uncertainty, doubt and stress. You may be longing for some type of promise that all your needs will be met or, at least, that you will come first and feel valued, safe and loved. Do you want to be sure that you and your partner have the skills needed to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts and support each other until death do you part?
Why Premarital Counseling?
Although almost all couples bump up against challenges in their relationships, very few attend couples therapy before things get bad. Even fewer engage in premarital counseling, which may explain the current high divorce rates. Many couples feel like they’re on cloud nine at the beginning of a relationship and believe that the attraction and passion that they feel during this honeymoon stage will last. They don’t invest in discovering the meaning of a real relationship and are later shocked and confused when things start to fall apart. They are left wading through conflicts, disappointments, betrayals and feelings of rejection, with no clue how to navigate the choppy waters that have upturned their delicate rowboat.
The good news is that studies show that couples who engage in relationship counseling prior to their weddings have a 30 percent higher marital success rate than those who did not. A skilled and insightful relationship therapist can help you explore your ideas and expectations about love and marriage and feel capable and confident about making a commitment to your partner.
Premarital Counseling Can Provide You With Guidance, Insight And A Unified Path Forward
Even if you have been living together for a while marriage is a different experience. Research shows that partners expect more from marriage and experience disappointment over unmet expectations that were not present when they were living together. The benefits of premarital counseling include the opportunity to explore your differing expectations of marriage, and establish how to cooperate in managing them. You’ll have the opportunity to express all your nagging doubts and fears so that you and your partner can address them before they materialize. And, while you may learn things about each other that you might not like, you can assess if you are determined and motivated enough to accept each other’s faults and iron out issues at the onset.
The origin of most marital discord is varying visions about what love looks like and how you want it shown. Pre-marital counseling performs the essential function of helping you share your most intimate needs about being loved so that you avoid disappointing each other when you are married. Once everything is expressed outwardly to one another, you can learn how to make space for and support each other’s fundamental needs, goals and desires. In pre-marital counseling sessions, I can also help you initiate difficult and/or important conversations without judgment, make compromises and work together as a unit. While you interact in the space of my office, I can point out patterns of communication that cause one or both of you to get upset and shut down, which can prevent blaming and shaming arguments down the road.
Throughout our work together, you can create a strong foundation at the onset of your marriage that is supple and fluid enough to expand and evolve as you continue on a journey through life hand in hand. With the support and guidance of an experienced couples therapist and the willingness to engage in the premarital therapy process, you and your partner can set yourselves up for success with awareness of the issues between you and tools to deal with them, which, in turn, allows you a long, happy life together. This process can be extremely enlightening, giving you the information you need to move into the future in a healthy way, rather than focusing on or avoiding the past.
You still may have questions or concerns about premarital counseling…
I’m afraid of what I might learn about my partner and he or she about me.
It’s natural to be afraid of what might be uncovered in couples counseling, but if either of you goes into your marriage thinking the other is perfect, and will stay that way, you set yourselves up for big disappointment. Beginning the discovery process of getting to know each other in depth builds trust and ensures that you are participating equally in the relationship. Premarital counseling sets the stage for each of you to feel comfortable being yourselves without fear that you will lose your partner. The counseling process makes it safe enough for you to see one another, faults and all. If you can accept and love both all the good and not so good bits of each other, premarital counseling will pay for itself many times over. You’ll begin your marriage with the tools needed to make your marriage flexible enough to bend but not break when you face stormy weather.
I’m worried that my partner really isn’t committed to marriage and won’t take our relationship to the next step.
If you’re struggling to get on the same page about your commitment to and future with each other, your relationship might not be what you think or hope it is. In premarital counseling sessions, I can help you uncover the underlying issues that if left hidden, sow the seeds of disharmony. You can both gain clarity regarding each other’s strengths and weaknesses and adapt accordingly. Instead of living a life of regret, you set out to enjoy a life of acceptance, tolerance and joy in one and other’s development.
What if we discover that we’re not suited to be with each other?
If, in fact, you are not right for each other, it is so much better to recognize that now than years down the road. So many couples get married quickly, for the wrong reasons or without really knowing each other. And, while they might stay together and build a life, there is no real joy or connection in the relationship. As you learn about each other in premarital counseling, you can thoughtfully decide if you have a sustainable connection and a real, shared love that you both want to foster now and in the long-term.
Move Into Your Marriage With Insight, Tools And Committed Love
I invite you to take the next step and call my office at 310-985-2491 to schedule an initial appointment. I offer in person therapy in Los Angeles, California, and global relationship coaching. Your relationship happiness is an investment that matters.