Pre-marriage counseling doesn’t need to be a long process, especially if you feel you’re starting out with a very solid foundation and only need some clarifications and goal-setting. Some couples have done this relational work before marriage, others flourish with the guidance of premarital counseling. Regardless, be sure to take the time to invest in your marriage. The return on your marriage investment is life long!
- Develop Individual, Marital and Family Goals: What is your vision of marriage? What is your vision of walking through life together? This is a lifelong investment together – why not put your heads together and look at how you’d like the future to look? Where do you want to be in five years? Approximately when would you like to have children? How many children? There are many areas that can be explored, hopes and visions shared.
- Share Role Expectations: Too often married couples have never really discussed who will be doing what in the marriage; jobs, finances, chores, sexual intimacy and more. Have several open and honest discussions about what each of you expect from the other, how much flexibility you each possess, and agree on a plan.
- Develop Conflict Resolution Skills: The reality is that “conflict” can range from disagreements about small things, to emotionally charged arguments about serious issues. There are ways to effectively de-escalate conflict that are highly effective and can decrease the time spent engaged in the argument.
- Improve your Communication: Being able to effectively listen and clarify what is being said, WITHOUT reacting first. To truly hear and affirm the other’s position is challenging when we have a different view. Couples that really communicate effectively can discuss and resolve issues when they arise without reactivity, they respond well. This is one of the most important aspects of emotional safety between couples. You can learn to do this!
- Identify Spiritual Beliefs: For some this is not a big issue – but for others a serious one. Differing spiritual beliefs are not a problem as long as it’s been discussed and there is an understanding of how they will function in the marriage with regards to practice, beliefs, children, etc. Shared spiritual beliefs offer a common foundation on which to cultivate your lifestyle.
- Explore any Problematic Family of Origin Issues: Our relational templates develop during our early years. The influence of our parents, primary caregivers and important people influences our view of self and others. If one of the partners experienced a high conflict or unloving household, it can be helpful to explore that in regards to how it might emerge in their relationship. Couples who understand the existence of any problematic conditioning around how relationships work are usually better at disrupting repetition of these learned behaviors