• Are you and your partner planning your marriage?
• Is a hectic schedule and coordinating logistics leaving little time for you and your partner to connect and communicate?
• Are you hoping to clarify what marriage means for you and your partner?
• Do you want to be proactive and discuss possible issues or conflicts before they arise in your relationship?
• Does it make you nervous when you hear divorce statistics or think about the breakups of people you know or do you think “that would never be us”?
Getting married is a huge life step. As you approach your wedding day, you may feel excited as well as nervous. While you may often feel ecstatic, you might also be experiencing concern and want to make sure that you and your partner do everything you can to ensure a lasting, loving union. Maybe you have already lived with your partner for years, but you suddenly realize that you have not told him or her that you eventually want to live near your parents and family. Or, maybe you and your partner have not combined finances yet, and you wonder how your money management styles will fit together. Perhaps you have talked about children, but have yet to clarify what kind of parents you plan to be together. Or, maybe you have a strong sexual connection right now, but you want to talk about some of your wants and needs in the future. You may just want to sit down with your partner and discuss all of these topics and more without the interruptions of your everyday lives.
Marriage Is a Thrilling Step Toward Lifelong Commitment
During the excitement of proposals and wedding planning, our culture often encourages couples to focus on the fluff rather than the meaning of the main event and what comes after. So many of our childhood fairytales and romantic comedies end at the joyous wedding rather than following our heroes or heroines into the day-to-day of married life. And, in the U.S, 40-50 percent of marriages currently end in divorce. Too often, this happens because couples do not take the time to discuss their values, concerns and visions for the future before tying the knot. Often people don’t know how to discuss the sometimes controversial stuff like money and sex honestly when they get married.
We all have our own ideas about marriage and how much work it will take. It is important for you and your partner to make sure that your ideas are compatible for the long-term. While “Happily Ever After” is an appealing idea, real-life marriages are built on more than fairytale magic. I remember sitting with my step-mom before my own marriage, listening to her reflect on her 18 years (at that time) with my father. She said, “The most important thing to keep in mind is that the wedding is just a day, a special day, but just a day. Keep your eye on what is most important – your relationship and building a life together.” Her relationship with my father never made marriage look easy – it did make it look worth it. It is so brave to want to make a lifelong commitment. But, it is also important to enter into that commitment with your eyes open and effective communication tools already in place. Thankfully, there is a way to clarify your values, hopes and goals with you partner before you exchange your vows.
Premarital Counseling Can Help You Start Your Lives Together With Confidence and Compatibility
I help couples of all backgrounds and orientations prepare for their next step. I have been working with people from all backgrounds and orientations since 1991. Premarital counseling is not for couples deep in conflict. If you and your partner are already fighting about finances, children or intimacy; are in crisis; or if you cannot agree about marriage at all, I recommend reading more about my couples counseling services. Premarital counseling is a proactive step to take before deep conflict or issues arise and create breaks in your relationship.
During sessions, I can guide you through the issues that most commonly lead to disagreement or even divorce: finances, sex, child-rearing, basic communication, spirituality and values. I will serve as a translator to make sure that you both feel heard and understood every step along the way and build a solid foundation for discussing these things in years to come. You and your partner can build trust so that you feel comfortable joining your finances, even if one of you is more of a spender than a saver. Even if you maintain separate bank accounts, one spouse’s financial habits always affects the other. You can talk about your desire or lack of desire to have children, or if you already have children, how you will go about raising them. You can also reflect on your sexual lives and concerns about non-monogamy and fidelity. With guidance and support, you can begin to define what “monogamy” or” commitment” may look like for you and your partner, setting boundaries that make both of you feel comfortable.
Your particular sessions will be tailored to the needs of you and your partner. Even if you feel like you do not have to or want to discuss some of these topics, counseling can make sure that the doors are open for communication in the future. People learn their communication styles from their families of origin. Things may come up once you are married that you never expected to address. When that happens, you’ll want to have effective communication skills so that you can listen to your partner and make yourself heard.
The skills you’ll learn in counseling give you and your partner a strong foundation to come back to any time things become rough. It is a fallacy that people just grow together or grow apart. As the years pass, you can continue to decide to grow together by engaging in communication and understanding one another well enough to connect and sometimes compromise. Counseling is the first step toward making that decision.
You may believe that premarital counseling will help you and your partner begin a lasting union, but still have questions or concerns…
I don’t want to talk about the hard stuff! I just want to be excited about getting married.
Marriage is a time of celebration and happiness. I congratulate you on even taking the time to learn more about premarital counseling. While you and your partner should be enjoying the love and support of your friends, family members and each other, it is also a good idea to make sure that you are starting your lives together with a strong united front. No matter how compatible you are, it is unlikely that you agree about every little thing. Rather than diminish your excitement, counseling can make you feel even stronger and more prepared to enjoy a loving union.
With all of the wedding planning and our other responsibilities, I don’t know if we have time for premarital counseling.
Wedding planning can be hectic. While you and your partner are running around, coordinating who goes what where, you may be zooming right past each other without realizing it. Perhaps you haven’t had a real conversation in weeks! Counseling sessions can be a time that you set aside to check in with your partner and make sure that everything is going smoothly. You can take a breath, talk to your partner and enjoy a break from the chaos that may be around you.
I don’t know if my partner will want to come.
If your partner feels skeptical about counseling or feels that you both are already on the same page, I encourage you to check in with him or her and explain that premarital counseling is not about conflict or crisis. Instead, it is about laying the groundwork for the future of your relationship.
In addition, I offer a special premarital counseling package. You pay 1200 dollars up front for ten hours of counseling. Since the normal rate is 145 dollars an hour, this is a 250 dollar savings. If your combined income is less than 100,000 dollars you may be eligible for a special reduced rate premarital package that offers ten sessions for 1000 dollars up front or in two payments. I do this to encourage couples to be pro-active after years of seeing couples come to therapy when they have already wounded one another severely.
If you are planning your marriage and want to check in with your future spouse in a safe, productive environment, I invite you to call me at (415) 294-5007 for a free 15-minute phone consultation to ask any questions you may have about premarital counseling and my practice.