Most of the couples who come to me for premarital counseling are surprised to learn how much there is to consider before getting married. When their relationship is going well and their focus is on the excitement of their wedding, the honeymoon and future dreams and expectations, it’s hard to imagine what might someday become a source of conflict in the relationship. By the time the wedding date is set and they and/or their families are financially invested, it is hard to think of anything but the wedding or to pay attention to red flags that may come up as indicators of current or future problems in the relationship. But it’s important to keep in mind that after the wedding, all couples must settle into the marriage. What about the marriage?
Unfortunately, some of those dreams and expectations may be unspoken and a potential source of future marital conflict. Each of us brings our own personal history and experiences into a relationship. That creates our paradigm, the lens through which we view life. That’s where premarital counseling is helpful, and it’s most useful before couples are so invested and committed to a wedding that they are beyond considering adjustments to their plan. It may be necessary to take added time to consider their strengths and weaknesses, their dreams and expectations, and work through areas of needed growth in their relationship before they are ready to marry.
So when is the best time to get premarital counseling? Before the engagement. In addition to my clinical training and experience, I bring almost 45 years of marriage experience to the counseling setting. Premarital counseling is one of the things I enjoy most in my practice. You don’t know what you don’t know, so it’s normal that couples are surprised to learn there is so much to consider before making a lifetime commitment to each other. I am a certified facilitator of the Prepare/Enrich Inventory. I like Prepare/Enrich for a number of reasons. It identifies personal styles and covers a wide range of topics that spark discussions designed to help couples know themselves and each other well. In addition, couples learn healthy productive ways to build on their relationship and to navigate conflict both in the couple relationship and with the broader extended family. We also explore hopes and dreams and expectations.
Prepare/Enrich can be customized to accommodate faith based or secular preferences. It is suited for couples who are considering marriage for the first time and those who have been married before and may be blending families. If you are contemplating marriage, or even if you are engaged or recently married, I would consider it an honor to help you navigate the premarital counseling process. Call me at (916) 806-4437 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started or to address further questions you may have.
A group for women struggling with unhealthy relationships or codependency
People often tell me they feel guilty when I can see no evidence they did something wrong. Guilt is an emotion associated with violating one's moral code. I frequently hear people say someone else made them feel guilty. Did you know that no one has the power to make you feel any emotion that you do not agree to feel? Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." When it comes to feelings, attitudes and choices, having a good understanding of boundaries is essential to knowing what is and isn't your responsibility. Being able to distinguish what is and isn't yours to own is very liberating, empowering in fact. It engenders self-confidence and alleviates undue stress. I once had a friend who lamented how guilty she felt for deciding to reenter the workplace and leave her children with a sitter. The decision to go back to work had been an agonizing one for her and her husband. This couple determined having a double income was necessary and in their family's best interest. In the course of our discussion, my friend realized it was actually sadness and grief that she was feeling. She came to understand that, although she was mourning the loss of time she could now spend with her children, she hadn't violated her moral code and did not need to feel guilty.