You’re getting married! It’s time to pick a caterer, a photographer, a florist, and a therapist. Hold up. Did you say therapist?
Yes, I did!
It turns out there are a whole lot of issues that many couples forget or are too shy to discuss before getting married. Seeing a couples therapist for premarital counseling is a great way to get these topics out in the open and come to decisions about them before problems arise.
But won’t that stir things up unnecessarily?
Now, some of you may be worried about seeing a therapist because you don’t want to “rock the boat” or start trouble where there is none. I get that and I want to reassure you that premarital therapy is NOT about creating problems and starting fights. It’s about preventing problems, deepening your connection, getting to know each other better than ever, and getting clear on your values and expectations for marriage and your future life together.
Will I be forced to share things I don’t want to share?
Or maybe you’re afraid you’ll find out or be forced to share things about yourself and your soon-to-be-spouse that you’d rather not talk about. Trust me, it’s better to know now! First of all, most things can be worked out through negotiations and good communication. Fortunately, you will learn a lot about healthy and effective communication in premarital therapy. That said, if there is a deal-breaker in your relationship, it’s much better to find out before your big day. I know it sounds extreme and heartbreaking but calling off a wedding is a lot easier than getting a divorce.
What will we do in session?
Ok enough doom and gloom, geez! If you are considering premarital therapy, you might be wondering about the kinds of things that you will talk about with your therapist. Everyone does things a little differently but here are some of the topics I cover in my work with premarital couples.
Learn about each other’s emotional needs, personality types, communication styles and more using various assessment measures based on your individual needs.Communication
It’s always important to set the groundwork of effective communication before getting into the hard stuff. And trust me, there will be hard stuff that comes up in your marriage no matter how perfect you are for each other. If you know how to talk about issues as they arise, you’ll likely have many fewer and less severe issues throughout your marriage. I teach couples specific communication techniques that include learning how to empathize with and validate each other to make sure both parties feel heard and understood.
Once you know how to communicate, then we can start getting into some other topics.
Topics we may discuss include but are not limited to:
Do you want kids? How many? Would you be open to adoption if the need arose? How about in-vitro? What kind of parenting style do you think you will use? Would you be okay if your spouse believed in spanking? How will you handle it if your spouse decides after trying for 2 years that he no longer wants kids?
Some of these may seem like worst case scenarios, but, again, it’s better to be prepared. Plus, as long as one of you isn’t dead-set for kids while the other is dead-set against them, we should be able to work things out with proper communication.
How will money be handled in your relationship? Will you share an account or keep separate ones? If one of you is a saver and the other is a spender, how will you handle these differences? What limits will you put in place (e.g. talk to each other before spending more than $100) to ensure that major decisions are made as a couple?
Different money-styles brings many married couples into therapy. Talking about these things in advance can save you from headaches (and thousands of dollars in couples therapy fees) later. See, you’re already making good financial decisions together by investing in premarital therapy now!
How often would you each like have sex once you are married? Will you have regular date nights? What does each of you like/dislike in bed? What are your fantasies? What are you willing/not willing to try? How will you let your partner know if you feel you are letting your romantic life slide?
The busier you get, the more you may need to rely on a bit of planning to ensure that your sex-life stays active. In premarital therapy, I’ll teach you a simple and fun way to make sure you keep having sex no matter how busy you are.
What religion, if any, do you practice? How about your fiancé? If you plan on having children, will you want religion to be a part of their lives? If so, how much a part?
A related issue is that of values. Even if you don’t practice a particular religion, are there values that are important to you? For example, do you believe in “The Golden Rule,” of treating others as you’d like to be treated, or are you more of a “fend for yourself” kind of person?
The country has become more and more divided in that arena. Will or does this play a part in your relationship? How would you handle one of you changing political parties? Would it matter?
It’s important that your partner know about the dreams that you have for yourself and your family. What are the hopes and wishes you want to achieve one day? How can you support each other in achieving those dreams?
Have you always wanted to live out of the country? Is it your goal to go skydiving one day? Let’s make sure that your partner will be on-board. Pun intended!
This is just a basic list of a few topics you may discuss in premarital therapy. The process should be slightly different for everyone and tailored to your specific wants and needs as a couple.If you would like to learn more about how premarital therapy can help your relationship, contact me!