The Importance of Premarital Counseling

Marriage is a beautiful milestone in your life.  Marriage is when you wholeheartedly connect two lives into one, share what life has to offer, the good and bad, and often have children.  Once you are engaged, you’re radiating with positive and happy energy envisioning your life ahead.  The last thing you’re thinking of is therapy.  Therapy is not always about mental health disorders, illness, or conflict.  Marriage can be difficult with emotional and financial troubles.  Often, newlyweds do not have the tools and skills to resolve the dispute and react with negative behavior.  Premarital counseling supports couples to build a strong, healthy foundation before entering the commitment of marriage, and it’s a step to being positive and proactive, elevating some conflicts in the future and reduce the risk of divorce.  There are many types of premarital counseling, one maybe more of a preference than another for you and your significant other. According to The Knot, different PMC modules range from religious premarital counseling, online premarital counseling, there are books and online resources, a certified therapist, and legal and financial premarital counseling.  

Vigorously maintaining a healthy relationship is the best thing you can do for yourself and your spouse, for your marriage will last.  Research proves premarital counseling is a significant investment.  In a survey of 1,235 couples engaged in premarital counseling, 92 percent have reported that counseling helped them during their first year of marriage. Four years later, 80 percent of the couples said that premarital counseling had improved their marriage.  

Your couple’s counselor will help identify conflict areas and offer practical tools to address and prevent future issues.  The counseling will establish expectations for the present and future. You and your partner will develop the values and morals you want for your family unit and teaches excellent communication skills.  Furthermore, the conversation will begin discussing each partner’s position on spirituality, religion, finances, career goals, intimacy (emotionally and sexually), extended family dynamics and their roles, explore the option to have or not to have children.  These conversations are to establish awareness and understanding of each partner’s wants and needs.  Collaboratively, a plan will guide the loving couple to move forward in the blissful journey of love and marriage.  

We know it is a positive step towards a loving future.  But it does come with fear, doubt, and anxiety.  Couples may feel scared to face some answers or talk about topics that they never discussed.  Therapy is a safe place to examine all the aspects of marriage and what life lies ahead of you.  Here are just a few questions that premarital counseling will explore:

  • How do you handle an unexpected change?
  • Do you want kids?
  • Why do you want to get married?
  • What is your communication style?
  • How do you like to have your sexual needs met? How often?
  • If your sexual needs are not met, how do you communicate and address the issue?
  • Do you respect any religious or political differences you may have? 
  • What are your career goals? Whose career takes priority?
  • What are your strategies for conflict resolution?
  • How much time do you value together, and how much time do you appreciate apart? 
  • How well do you communicate with each other?
  • How do you need to feel loved? 
  • Are finances and assets kept separate or jointly?
  • What are your financial priorities, spending habits, and financial goals? 
  • If the marriage is struggling, are you willing to go to marriage counseling?

Sadly, United States has the sixth-highest national divorce rate of 50% worldwide.  Second marriages have a higher divorce rate of 60%, and third marriages even higher at 73% globally. Divorce commonly occurs between the first seven years of marriage.  But why is this?  These numbers are exceptionally high when marriage is supposed to be a blissful unit conquering the world together.  

All marriages, whether happy or toxic, experience the same issues. It is how the couple weathers the storm which will determine if the marriage thrives or terminates.  It is essential to recognize the values and morals in your relationship and what is important to you and your partner for a healthy marriage.  During these troubled times, couples should treat each other with respect, empathy, kindness, compassion, understanding, and love.  Times of turmoil result in defensiveness, hostility, resentment, and doubt, which ultimately will not be positive.  

Here are a few of the most common reasons that lead to divorce:

  1. Infidelity

Cheating is one of the most common reasons for a divorce.  Infidelity is responsible for 20-40% of the breakdown of marriages.  Cheating is not just a physical affair but can also be an emotional affair.  Regardless, it is a betrayal to your partner and marriage.  People cheat for many reasons, and some causes can be complex.  Resentment, anger, sexual differences, lack of emotional connection, or decrease in sexual appetite, to name a few.  Once the emotional or physical cheating has commenced, the damage of trust has weakened the relationship. 

  1. Financial problems

As they say, money can be the root of all evil.  Too little or too much money doesn’t matter; it can cause financial stress in the marriage to the point of destruction.  Suppose the couple did not establish the value of money and boundaries before the wedding. In that case, it is more than likely their perception of finances such as savings, financial goals, spending habits, bills, and financial priorities are different.  Financial compatibility is crucial.  

Financial issues will lead to a cumbersome situation if both partners are not on the same page.  Also, if one partner brings in more money than the other, often it can lead to a power struggle and different wants and needs.

  1. Lack of intimacy

Intimacy is a physical and emotional connection.  When a partner does not feel connected and emotionally neglected or lacks intimacy, these are other reasons for the marriage to deteriorate.  Losing the emotional connection with your partner can quickly harm the marriage.  The couple will begin to feel like roommates or even strangers.  Emotional neglect often leads to emotional abuse. Couples need to nurture the marriage with appreciation, kindness, unconditional love, and respect.  

In many marriages, couples struggle to have different sex drives and sexual appetites.  When two people have different libido levels, one’s sexual needs are generally not met as often as they’d like; this then becomes a huge hurdle. When not sexually satisfied, the lack of sex can cause them to feel rejected and insecure. It is the responsibility of each to be attentive to your partner’s sexual needs, create intimacy, and create a special bond between both.     

  1. Lack of Communication

Communication is a significant aspect of any relationship. The inability to communicate effectively will lead to anger, resentment, frustration, and the loss of motivation to try to salvage the marriage.  Excellent communication skills are the foundation for a healthy and strong marriage.  The idea is to talk with your partner openly, honestly, and direct.  Talk about what is needed to help you or the situation.  Both parties will understand how the other feels and what they need.  Little arguments, also known as bickering, become exhausting and draining. When repeating the same argument over and over is a sign they’re not being understood or appreciated.  Expressing feelings through anger, screaming, abusive comments, aggression, or giving the cold shoulder will not end productively.  These unhealthy communication methods can have a couple feeling alone and isolated, and most of all, unloved.  Poor communication skills are within the top 5 reasons for divorce.

  1. Addiction

Addiction is a common cause of divorce.  Addictions can come in many forms like alcoholism, substance abuse, sexual addictions, internet addiction, and gambling addiction.  As a result of the addiction, a domino effect occurs with additional issues such as lack of communication, infidelity, financial problems, and lack of intimacy.  They all go hand in hand when it comes to addiction.  Addiction hijacks the brain and causes havoc in the family’s life, being left very unstable.  

  1. Not being prepared for the commitment of marriage.

Young adults fantasize about the biggest day of their life – their wedding and the white picket fence life.  They are looking through life with rose-colored glasses and have yet to see what the real world has in store.  They finally feel natural adult love and are overwhelmed with the butterflies and what their future holds.  Although, what they haven’t thought of, are they truly prepared for a life-long commitment with each other. Married couples in their 20s have the highest divorce rate.  Before jumping into marriage, it would be beneficial to start premarital counseling.  It doesn’t mean anything is wrong.  Premarital counseling can help determine if both individuals are ready and compatible with each other for life.  

If you are ready to enter a marriage, consider premarital counseling to start in a healthy direction.  John P. Carnesecchi, LCSW, CEAP Founder and Clinical Director, specializes in couples and relationship counseling.  John strives to give both parties a better understanding and improve communication for now and in the future.  John believes it takes a person to help a person. He wants to educate and guide couples to learn each other’s love language and thrive on assisting them to live a loving and prosperous life.  

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