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Should You Consider Premarital Counseling Before You Tie the Knot?

Learn about how premarital counseling with your spouse-to-be can lay a strong foundation for a happy, long-lasting marriage.

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Before you get hitched, does it make sense to go to premarital counseling with your significant other? Premarital counseling is couples therapy that helps you prepare for a lifetime commitment. Unlike couples therapy, which focuses on resolving a particular issue, premarital counseling helps establish a strong foundation for marriage.

Premarriage counseling studies show that it can reduce the likelihood of a future divorce by up to 50%. Other findings say that it’s more effective to attend premarital counseling together for six to nine months before you get hitched vs. living together as a couple before you say, “I do.”

Read on to learn about the benefits of premarital counseling and how it can help you and your partner get on the same page about various issues so you can create a roadmap for your marriage.

6 Benefits of Premarital Counseling 

Pause before you say, “We don’t need counseling before marriage! We’re rock solid!” There are many benefits for couples to learn how to journey married life together before they get hitched. These include:

1. Learning how to communicate better: When you come from a different background than your future spouse, your communication styles are also likely different. It’s important to learn how to work through disagreements calmly and respectfully without attacking the other person or bringing up the past.

2. Developing conflict resolution skills: Couples can identify patterns of conflict, improve their ability to communicate openly and empathetically, and learn to resolve disagreements constructively. You and your future spouse can build a strong foundation for a healthy and fulfilling marriage by developing these skills.

3. Focusing on what’s going well: Dwelling on the negatives during disagreements is easy, but not conducive to solving issues. Counseling can help you orient your thinking to what you like about your partner and what’s going well as you navigate conflicts. 

4. Weed out unhelpful behaviors: As we’ve mentioned, each person in a couple comes from a different background and may bring unhelpful coping or communication skills into the relationship. A counselor can help you identify and correct these behaviors before you marry.

5. Strengthen joint decision-making skills: Couples can learn to navigate differences in opinions and preferences, finding common ground through respectful dialogue and compromise. This skill enhances your decision-making process as a couple, but also fosters a sense of teamwork and mutual respect, which is crucial for a successful marriage.

6. Address concerns related to marriage: Making a lifetime commitment to another person is a big step, so it’s normal to experience fears and anxieties around it. Your premarriage sessions can give you space to explore those concerns and alleviate them.

Drilling Down Into Important Issues During Your Sessions 

When you meet with a therapist or a clergyperson to prepare for your marriage, you’ll delve into different areas to “get on the same page” once you embark on your life together. Here are some areas that you’ll likely explore together if you haven’t already:

Money and finances: This is one of the top areas where couples struggle, with each person having a unique view on spending and saving. Fidelity Investments’ recent Couples & Money Study, conducted every two years, revealed that despite 90% of couples believing they communicate effectively, over 45% acknowledged having occasional financial arguments with their partners. Additionally, 25% identified money as the most significant hurdle in their marriages.

Discussing how you plan to manage your finances helps clarify the standard of living you want to achieve as a couple. This can include how much you’d like to save from each paycheck and put into retirement, whether you’ll have separate or joint bank accounts, how often you’ll use credit or debit cards, and how much each partner will contribute to monthly bills.

Beliefs, morals, and religion: It’s essential to understand what values your partner holds dear so you can know how they’ll impact your daily life. Discussing loyalty and fidelity is also important. Religion is another crucial area to explore so you fully understand how your partner wishes to practice their faith. When you have children, deciding what religious beliefs and practices you wish them to learn is also important before marriage.

Roles in the marriage: Discuss your expectations for each of your roles. Career goals can come into play here, as well as how you’ll divide up household chores, like paying bills, grocery shopping, and changing the car oil.

Time spent together and apart: Some people like to enjoy their morning workout alone, and others want a partner. Other couples want to schedule a weekend getaway once every three months. Talk about how you envision spending your downtime once you move in together. 

Children: This is a topic where finding a middle ground is exceedingly challenging, and hoping your partner will change their mind isn’t a good way to start the marriage. Parting ways might be the best option if you can’t reach a consensus. You should also discuss discipline, childcare and schooling options.

Family relationships: You can discuss significant life events within your family that impacted you and how you see your partner fitting into your family’s dynamic. Express any questions or concerns about your future in-laws. How often do you want to spend time with your respective families? How will you handle the holidays?

Here’s How Premarital Counseling Can Help You and Your Future Spouse

As you walk down the aisle, consider how you’ll feel if you have built a strong foundation for your life together. These are five ways pre-marriage sessions can help you accomplish this:

1. Building trust: Premarital counseling can help build trust by addressing

past issues, establishing boundaries, and improving your communication.

2. Creating shared goals: Counseling allows couples to align their visions for the future, set mutual goals, and develop strategies to achieve them together.

3. Managing expectations: By discussing roles, responsibilities, and expectations within the relationship, couples can avoid misunderstandings and adapt to changes more effectively. That way, you can have a realistic view of what to expect in your life together.

4. Developing conflict resolution skills: Counseling provides you and your partner with a safe space to learn and practice healthy conflict resolution techniques, improving the overall quality of your relationship.

5. Exploring intimacy: Premarital counseling can help couples explore emotional, physical, and spiritual intimacy, enhancing their connection and understanding of each other.

How to Get Started With Premarriage Counseling Sessions

As you and your future spouse plan your wedding, logging time with a trained therapist or a clergyperson can help you prepare for your life together. If your partner is on the fence about it, explain why it’s important to you and what you’d like to achieve from counseling as a couple.

Are you looking for a premarital counselor? Seek recommendations from friends, family, colleagues, or your religious community. Your mental health provider or local/state mental health agencies can offer valuable referrals.

Contact an Experienced Woodbury Prenuptial Agreement Attorney to Discuss Your Questions Today

The decision to get married is one of the most significant that most people make. It’s important to make sure you understand all aspects of the equation beforehand. Our trusted Woodbury, NJ prenuptial agreement attorneys at Smedley Law Group, P.C., are here to help you find solutions that best suit your needs and goals. We’re Certified Matrimonial Law Attorneys—a designation given by the New Jersey Supreme Court to reflect our expertise in family law matters. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today to arrange a consultation.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you’re seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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