Whether you and your other half are just beginning to talk about marriage, you’ve already got a ring on the finger, or the big day is fast-approaching — you may be considering when to start premarital counselling. The sooner you start working with a professional on your future marriage, the better. The purpose of pre marriage counselling is to ensure you’re on the same page about a wide variety of important topics that are bound to come up as you build your lives together. Learn the benefits of couples counselling and why it can be the difference between a long and happy marriage, or separation and divorce.
Does premarital counselling reduce divorce rates?
Studies support that premarital counselling increases marital success rates by as much as 30%. For many couples, that could mean avoiding divorce altogether. Couples that attend counselling are more in tune with each other’s needs, have more realistic expectations of the relationship, and have clearer communication with one another. If you’re looking to build a lifelong marriage, premarital counselling is one of the best ways to boost your chances of success.
When to start premarital counselling
The best time to start pre marriage counselling is as soon as possible. Premarital counselling opens a safe space for both individuals to communicate their wants, needs, and fears. With the help of a professional, couples can begin to work through current recurring conflicts and future disagreements that may arise. In doing so, they strengthen their relationship which leads to better future outcomes.
Benefits of premarital counselling
Communication is the foundation of a strong marriage. Without it, it’s impossible to form the building blocks that make up a happy and healthy relationship. It should be a priority for you and your partner to learn how to communicate effectively. You may have already noticed that there are times when communicating with your significant other has been difficult or muddled.
The first step towards communicating more effectively is learning how to resolve conflicts through calm conversations rather than through passive-aggressive behaviour or harsh words. If you’ve ever felt like conversations with your partner ended up in an argument, there may be a lapse in communication where one or both of your needs aren’t being met. Couples’ counselling will teach you how to make each other feel heard, allowing you to work out differences without bringing up past issues or making assumptions. That way, you’re more likely able to reach common ground.
Learn to resolve conflicts
Conflict resolution is another topic you talk about in pre marriage counselling. Strongly tied to communication skills, it’s the process of working through issues in your relationship in a healthy and effective way. Without it, arguments tend to drag on, coming up over and over again throughout your relationship. With strong conflict resolution skills, couples can use their disagreements as moments of growth — learning more about their partner’s needs and their point of view.
There are three main ways to resolve conflicts:
- Compromise: One partner gives up something they want to reach an agreement. This can be difficult if both partners don’t feel like they have equal power in the relationship, or if one partner doesn’t feel like they will get what they want out of the agreement.
- Collaboration: Where both partners work together on finding a solution for the problem at hand.
- Negotiation: Each person communicates their needs, and eventually comes to an agreement — which may still involve some compromise.
Sorting out financial matters
Finances are another important aspect of a marriage to discuss when starting pre marital counselling. Discussing money before marriage can help you both determine whether or not it’s in your best interest to tie the knot. You want to ensure that you and your partner share similar financial goals, as well as spending habits and values. If one person has a lot more debt than the other, premarital counselling can provide tools to manage debt, which could potentially save your future marriage from unnecessary stress.
If you disagree on finances, don’t shy away from talking about it. Communicating is essential in any relationship — it’s worth it to have an uncomfortable conversation. Doing so with a counsellor will take the fear and discomfort out of navigating through this difficult topic.
Discovering ‘must haves’ vs. ‘nice to haves’
During premarital counselling, couples will often identify the ‘must have’ and ‘nice to have’ qualities in their marriage. This is an important distinction to make because identifying your non-negotiables helps you realize what you truly need to be happy and satisfied. It can also help you understand what needs to change about the current relationship.
The benefits of knowing the difference between ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ are numerous:
- Couples can prioritize working towards the values most important to them.
- If a couple isn’t sure about whether or not they should get married, knowing what each person wants from their future spouse can help determine if they’re ready to step up and compromise.
- A clear understanding of one another’s expectations will pave the way for more effective communication moving forward — meaning fewer arguments later on down the road.
Understand each other’s core values and belief systems
A major benefit of premarital counselling is that it helps partners understand each other’s values, beliefs and expectations about marriage. You will spend an enormous amount of time together as a couple. It’s important to have a good understanding of what each person values most in a relationship.
- What in life is most important to them?
- Do their values align with yours?
- Are there any conflicting values that need to be explored further?
- Are there any unspoken or unacknowledged expectations related to money, parenting or other topics that could cause problems down the road if not addressed now?
It’s important to address family planning early on in the relationship, ideally before children are in the picture. For example, do you want children at all? If yes, how you would like your children raised, as well as how much time each of you will spend raising them? The degree of flexibility or rigidity parents choose varies greatly from family system type (e.g., authoritarian vs authoritative) and culture (e.g., Eastern vs Western). When discussing parenting styles, ensure your significant other understands yours so that there are no surprises when it comes time to grow your family. It’s also helpful to discuss specific caretaking duties like:
- Who will wake up in the middle of the night when the baby cries?
- Who’s in charge of feeding or napping?
- Who will drive them to and from after-school activities?
Laying out expectations for these duties will make both partners more confident leading into raising kids — especially if it’s your first.
Strengthen your relationship today
Marriage counselling is an important way to establish what you want out of your relationship. If you’re wondering when to start pre marital counselling, sooner is always better. Speaking to a professional about your relationship will help you and your partner develop a deeper understanding of one another. With this new information and communication skills, you can grow your bond as a couple, leading to a higher chance of marital success down the line.
If you’re wondering when to start premarital counselling, it’s best as soon as discussions of marriage pop up. always a good idea to consider. Wellin5’s online counsellors are equipped to support you through every step in your relationship as a couple.