Wedding season is upon us! You are contacting caterers and DJ’s, tasting hors d’oeuvres and cake, keeping track of numbers and receipts, making choices about decorations, and finalizing your guest list… but have you decided to make time for and invest in some premarital counseling together?
This type of counseling is an opportunity to make sure that you are “on the same page” and to build a foundation for a sturdy and lasting marriage.
Will marriage still be hard? Yes, absolutely. But you are embarking on a journey with this person. Before you go on any journey, trip, adventure… preparation is not only a suggestion, it’s a necessity. What would you say to a couple who decides to set off on a week-long hiking expedition but does not have the proper gear, meals, clothing, or plan? You would call them foolish because they would likely get hurt, lost, or die. And this is a week. If done right, you are preparing for a marriage that will last your lifetime.
So, here are three important reasons that you may not have thought of for choosing to pursue counseling toegther, before you say “I do.”
Motivation, Core Values, and Differences
You already know that premarital counseling will help equip you in the areas of improving communication and conflict management skills. But have you stopped to think about what is behind miscommunication and conflict? By the way… conflict is not only inevitable in your relationship, it is necessary. We all bring our own perspectives, experiences, and expectations into any relationship. It is important that you work together to increase your awareness about what might be motivating your partner’s choices and viewpoints. You will (hopefully) become very good at making compromises and “fighting fair” in your marriage, but in order to do this you must learn about the core values that you each have and the way that the beautiful differences and strengths that you bring into the relationship can help you to become more unified as you grow and change together. Initially “opposites attract” but without intentionality and investment, eventually “opposites will attack.”
Whether we like it or not, our family of origin plays an enormous role in the way that we think, feel, and behave. In an effort to avoid unexpected conflict regarding the relationships you have together and individually with you parents, siblings and other family members… it is wise to discuss these dynamics ahead of time. You may think, “Yeah, my family is weird/loud/obnoxious/intense/different/crazy… but, isn’t everyones? We will be fine.” Attempting to gloss over challenging family dynamics can lead to disconnect and division in your relationship. This can happen very quickly and it’s effects can be devastating and long lasting. Discussing important boundaries up front is a proactive way to address problems with family members and family of origin issues in the future. You will be so glad that you made time for this.
Sin and Forgiveness
I want to share an ugly truth about marriage: You will hurt each other. Whether it is accidental or intentional, you will both do your fair share of disappointing and upsetting your spouse. Preparing for conflict is important, but what happens after conflict? How do we repair when some damage has been done. Surprisingly, many people lack the skills and practice of forgiveness and reconciliation. There is a “cost” to forgiveness as you lay down pride, anger, and resentment to turn towards your spouse. But this is so worth it. It is easy for us to be “blind” to the sin and struggles of the person that we are marrying because we truly do feel so overwhelmed by love and affection towards them. But we need to be honest about our tendencies and hang ups up front so that we are more able to exercise grace, flexibility, and understanding later. Forgiveness is one of the most important tools in your box/belt/shed and will help you to be resilient and to strengthen and persevere through the challenges.
If you or someone you know is interested in premarital counseling, we have incredible therapists at each of our locations who are eager to help you and your partner get off on the right foot. Your marriage is worth this kind of investment. Give us a call at 303-902-3068 or email us at [email protected]. Get your questions answered and get an appointment set up today!