It doesn’t matter if you and your partner have been together for six months or six years – marriage is a big step and not one that should be taken lightly. You and your partner are preparing to (hopefully) spend the rest of your lives together; shouldn’t you do everything you can to set your marriage up for a successful future?
In my work as online psychologist, I have had the pleasure of working with several couples as they prepared to get married. Over time, we have identified some of the most important topics to address during this exciting time. Here are some of the things I cover with clients in our online premarital counseling sessions.
Your Financial Situation
Finances are often one of the biggest stressors in any couple’s relationship. Disagreements on how your money should be spent, whether or not each individual is doing enough to help bring money in, and how to invest your finances are often intense and heated, and these types of issues can drive a serious wedge between spouses. While financial issues may not be a concern at the moment, you can be confident that they will arise at some point in your marriage. In premarital counseling, we open the lines for communication in this important arena and develop strategies for navigating future disagreements.
How You Plan To Parent Your Children
Whether you already have children or not, parenting struggles are another major stressor in many married couple’s relationships. Before you get married, it is critical that you have open, honest discussions about how you plan to parent your future children. What values do you hope to instill in them? How do you plan to handle disciplinary measures? Will one of you want to forego your career to become a stay-at-home parent? Becoming parents for the first time is a major life transition, had having some plans in place ahead of time can be a huge resource. If one or both of you already have children from previous relationships, this can be a valuable opportunity to plan how you wish to blend your families.
How You Each Display Affection
Every human being expresses love in different ways. In his book, “The Five Love Languages,” Gary D. Chapman identifies the five primary ways individuals express love: touch, quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, and acts of service. If someone expresses love to us in a language that is not our own, we may have trouble recognizing it. For example, you may express love through the quality time you spend with your spouse, but your spouse may express love by giving you gifts. You could end up being showered in presents, but never feeling the love your spouse is trying to convey. I can help you identify how to express love to one another in the way you each need it.
Each Of Your Roles Within The Marriage
We may not realize it, but many of us have fairly scripted family roles we expect our spouses to fulfill within our marriages. If you grew up with parents who evenly divided all household responsibilities, your expectations will probably be very different than someone who grew up in a household where responsibilities were strictly divided according to classic gender roles. If you and your partner have not lived together before marriage, you may not have yet discovered any conflicts in this area. I can help you bring these issues to light and work to resolve them before they have the chance to develop into larger issues.
How To Handle Arguments And Anger
Even in the happiest marriages, arguments and disagreements are inevitable. Arguments themselves are not inherently bad; however, how you choose to handle them could be. In premarital counseling, we can take advantage of an opportunity when both you and your spouse-to-be are calm and use it to devise strategies for navigating future arguments. Do you want to plan to separate and allow yourselves time to cool off before addressing the issue? Do you need to set a time limit for how long an issue can be discussed after an argument to avoid belaboring the issue and creating a new one altogether? Having plans in place to fall back on when necessary can be an invaluable asset.
Unpredictable Issues That May Arise In The Future
When planning their weddings, many couples are lost in the excitement of their relationships. The “honeymoon phase” of their relationship is often in full swing, and it feels like nothing could ever tear them apart. It’s normal and healthy to feel this way, but it’s also important to think ahead to issues that may arise in the future and address how they impact your relationship. What would happen if you learned that one of you is infertile? What would you do if someone were to commit adultery? What would you do if you felt that your marriage was in crisis for any reason? Premarital counseling provides the perfect opportunity to evaluate these types of potential issues and discuss how they may impact you.