Premarital Counseling: 5 Steps To Take Before Marriage
Congratulations! You are committed. Officially making the promise to do life for better or for worse. It’s a wonderful time. Enjoy!
And do keep in mind, too, that there are some vital next steps to take.
This is the time to start construction on more than a wedding. Taking measures to solidify your relationship and your upcoming marriage will be extremely beneficial. Marriage is a leap of faith in each other and in what the institution can be.
If you do the work.
Don’t take that leap without first taking these premarital steps. You may find that they provide the strength and solid start you need to launch your marriage well.
5 Premarital Steps to Take Right Away
1. Seek support now from a counselor and trusted loved ones.
There is no time like the present to gather those around you who will support you as individuals and reliable friends to your relationship. You need supporters who will come alongside you for the long haul. No relationship is an island; it is part of a community. Enjoy connections that are deeper, honest, and nurturing.
Look for mentors. Talk to other couples in a similar life situation and agree to lift each other up. Schedule several sessions of premarital counseling now because it’s always best to be proactive rather than reactive. Learning to ask for help and support from those who know the challenges of marriage is invaluable. Receiving encouragement and guidance from those who want you to succeed is vital and will serve you well again and again. Consider it ongoing education for happiness and fulfillment in your relationship.
2. Face your feelings… all of them.
Some therapists call the range of emotions after deciding to marry “engagement anxiety”. Some call it cold feet. Whatever the feelings, it’s okay. Processing how you feel about completely meshing your life with your partner deserves some time and reflection. It’s okay to feel your feelings, even when convention says you’re not supposed to feel anything but romantic joy.
It’s healthy to look at marriage and the family you’re creating with honesty and open eyes. If you’re feeling nervous or sad about giving up your home or certain freedoms, acknowledge that. Don’t blow by those feelings or bury them. If certain issues continue to bother you, discuss them openly with your partner and encourage him or her to work through with you in premarital counseling.
3. Ease up on the expectations and embrace the here and now
Engaged couples can get so wrapped up in preparing for what’s next that they miss the very important premarital step of being present. It may prove beneficial for you and your growth as a couple to practice being mindful.
Why? There are a wealth of bridal blog posts that warn of couples growing distant created during the wedding planning months. There are loads of TED Talks that encourage being more engaged in the moment to ensure passion and intimacy don’t wane.
Paying attention to each other is the essence of being with each other. Use this time of your engagement to become experts at it. Make memories, go for walks, text each other often, and sneak way to connect as much as you can. This will build the foundation for closeness long after the honeymoon.
4. Prioritize clear boundaries & ample time for each other
Honoring your commitment from here on out with intentional boundaries and quality time will be vital.
The sooner you identify, agree upon, and put into practice boundaries regarding your external concerns like careers, personal hobbies, children, and extended family the better. The more effectively you discuss what internal marital boundaries look like inside your relationship, the more easily and better equipped you will be to live harmoniously.
Moreover, couples counseling before your nuptials can help you develop the habit of carving out time to focus on your relationship. It can also make talk of limits and boundaries more constructive and healthy during the early days of your marriage. The goal? To start managing life as a team with cooperative decision-making and respectful balance.
5. Communicate as if your life together depends on it
Break down the core elements of your lives honestly. Make time to examine what you aren’t making time to discuss. Think through the issues that make you uneasy. Intentionally tip those relationship boats you’re afraid to rock. Don’t put it off.
Your relationship now and your marriage later must be strong enough to deal with discomfort and tough topics. Consider how you will negotiate, and compromise on the following topics:
• Family planning
• Blending families
• Living arrangements/ relocation
You may have no idea how much you need to work through until you start talking. Fortunately, you have this engagement period to discuss your feelings about life together in specific ways. Whether you can do that productively is important to know. Will the stress of the wedding affect your communication? Will some unresolved conflict make sharing difficult? Maybe.
But that isn’t necessarily bad. It’s good relationship information that can inform you and bring you closer, if you let it. Take your observations, concerns, and communication goals to premarital counseling. Communication skills learned and implemented there will prove useful throughout the life of your marriage.
The gift of your relationship now, before the wedding, and after the ring, comes with exciting experiences and important responsibilities. This is unique relationship space for specific skill-building, sharing, and support.
About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He works with couples struggling with powerful issues such as infidelity, careers and intimacy. He also specializes in treating addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and work-life balance.