Marriage is a wonderful opportunity for two people to join their lives together, and many young couples are starry-eyed in love as they imagine their future together. However, each person brings a unique experience and background to the marriage, and while these can enrich the relationship, they can also bring about unexpected problems.
Premarital counseling is an important step that helps couples resolve issues, anticipate common concerns, and be solution-minded to help them better guarantee a successful future together. Here are 4 crucial topics we cover in premarital counseling:
Physical and emotional intimacy is a huge factor in determining how happy a couple is. In fact, a 2016 study showed that 63% of Americans reported sexual satisfaction as one of the biggest factors in how successful their relationship was. What are each person’s beliefs concerning sex? Are there any differences in expectation of frequency? What current problems (if any) does a couple experience sexually? What hang-ups or insecurities does each person have, and how can we work together to resolve them?
Couples don’t necessarily need to decide exactly how many children they want before they get married, but they do need to have a similar vision of what their family life will be like. Does one person not want kids? What are each person’s thoughts on adoption? How will children be raised with regards to religion? Nearly half of Americans say that children are one of the main reasons to get married at all, so we will explore all these important issues together in therapy.
Your belief system plays a major role in how you view the world and want to live your life. Statistically, couples who share the same faith have a higher chance of staying married, but even if a couple doesn’t have the exact same religious beliefs, they can still have a fulfilling relationship. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans grew up in a mixed-faith home. In therapy, we address this issue head-on and explore questions like, “how does your faith affect your daily life?” or, “what expectations do you have of me as your spouse in your religious practices?”
Vision of a Relationship
And finally, we talk about the big picture in therapy. Renowned marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman writes that a shared meaning gives couples a purpose and something to work toward. What are your dreams and goals for the future, and how can each individual come together to join in a shared vision? What are your financial views and experiences that can affect the relationship? Is monogamy an absolute must? What has each person observed in their family of origin that he/she would like to continue? What things would he/she like to change?
In my experience as a psychotherapist and certified sex therapist, I’ve seen just how powerful premarital counseling can be to help couples overcome challenges, become aligned in their vision, and essentially save their marriage before it begins.