How Pre Engagement Counseling Can Lead To A Successful Marriage
Updated November 25, 2019
Reviewer Aaron Dutil
Proposing to the one you love can be a heartfelt experience, but one you must ponder carefully. Sometimes, the emotions get in the way of discussion and planning, and this can lead to a marriage that has a higher chance of failing.
Some go into marriage without knowing the other partner well enough, or not knowing how they'll handle the pressures of marriage. Once reality sinks in, they may try to pull back from the marriage, only to realize it's too late.
How can one fix that? One way is to have pre-engagement counseling. Counseling before you are even engaged sounds a bit odd. However, if you wait until right before the marriage, you may feel like you've gone too far to turn back, even if all the problems haven't been resolved. Plus, if you want to go above and beyond with the engagement, you may spend money on a ring or another present, only to find out the marriage isn't for you.
That's why it's such a good idea to see a counselor before you even pop the question. Here are some ways pre-engagement counseling can help you.
Pre-Engagement Counseling Helps You To Know Each Other Better
At first, this sounds a bit silly. Odds are, the two of you have been dating for a long time, and you believe you know your partner inside and out. However, your partner may have some secrets, quirks, and other traits you may not know, especially if the two of you haven't had a chance to live together yet.
You may love the person with all your heart, but when the two of you move in, you or your partner may have quirks that drive one another crazy. One may be more tidy than the other. You may snore in your sleep while the other is a light sleeper.
It's not just about the quirks and the negative issues, though. A counselor can ask you questions that will spark a deep conversation, questions which you haven't thought of before then. A counselor may ask simple questions such as "What is your biggest accomplishment?" and it becomes a springboard for all sorts of discussion.
This is before the engagement, so it may be likely that you two haven't introduced each other to your family, or you may not have revealed your full family history. During pre-engagement counseling, this becomes quite important. Questions include:
- How much has your family history impacted you? Everyone has different influences, and while the people who raised you do have influence, how much is up to debate. Talk about the values you've learned from your family.
- How close is your relationship with your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles? Some people are very close to their families. Others have a bond but may have more independence. Then there are some who would rather avoid their family whenever they can. Knowing this can help you know more about the person you're dating.
- What problems did your family face? Were your parents poor? Did they fight a lot? Were they nice to you, or did the two of you have a lot of arguments?
These may sound like irrelevant questions, but once the two of you are married, your families are linked, whether you like that or not. You may not have to face your partner's family all the time, but you should get to know them better.
Also, a traumatic past with your family can affect the expectations of your marriage. For example, if you grew up with parents who had relationship problems, you may have some fears about divorce or relationship problems of your own.
What Are Your Expectations?
One question you may not have answered with your partner are your expectations for your future marriage. One major reason why marriages fail is the lack of communication, and one example of a lack of communication are unspoken expectations which are not met. Sometimes, you may not want to voice your expectations because you believe they make you feel bossy or controlling, but unless you don't want to follow your partner's expectations, then it's perfectly fine to have expectations.
Expectations of your marriage can vary. The small things are good to talk about. For example:
- Who will have the burden of which chores? Some couples like to split the burden equally or assign different chores. One person may have a lighter workload and take the burden, or both are expected to help out. By figuring out the chores, the two of you can be able to get them done much faster.
- Who will buy the groceries? This will often depend on who is the smarter shopper. For example, a spender will go to the grocery for one item and then leave with ten. The partner will then be upset that they spent so much, and a fight will ensue.
- How often do the two of you go out? Couples do love to go out on date nights, but some prefer it more than others. Some will want to go out every week, while others will save it for an occasion. Some will want a nice meal, while others may prefer a cheaper option. Discuss!
- What should your sleep schedules be? This will be dependent on your jobs for the most part. If the two of you haven't lived together, you may have some trouble if one works the night shift and the other works in the mornings. Try figuring this stuff out before you get together.
Many of these tasks may change over time, or you and your partner can alternate on the responsibility. However, by having a conversation about them, you two can have a foundation at least.
Pre-Engagement Counseling Can Help Discuss Finances
Talking about your budget is something no one likes to talk about, so it's no surprise that many marriages fail because of financial troubles. One person is a big spender, while the other wants to save every penny. They get together, and soon there are fights over money.
Or perhaps the two of you have unpaid debts you haven't discussed, and you go into an engagement without figuring out how the two of you will tackle them.
There are so many reasons to discuss finances, and a pre-engagement counselor can help you with that. Other financial aspects include:
- How will the bills be split? Will it be 50/50, depending on income, or will other factors come into play? Many couples do not discuss bills, and when it comes to paying them, there may be a fight as a result.
- How about major purchases? Who will decide on them, and how? For example, when going on a vacation, who is the one who is budgeting and planning?
- What is your credit score? Is it enough to help buy a car or a house, or is it lacking? Your credit score is something you may not want to discuss, but by being honest about it, you can make an effort to change your score should it not be up to snuff.
- What about credit cards? Who uses them, and how much? Credit cards can help you with your credit, but they may also make you accumulate debt if you use them too much.
- How will the two of you keep track of expenses? Some couples assume the other is keeping track, and then they realize they spent too much and then there is a fight.
- Will there be separate bank accounts or a joint one? Some couples do not like having all their money in one place, while others may want the convenience of a joint bank account.
- Who will be the one to do the taxes? Will the two of you do it yourself, or use an accountant?
- How will the two of you handle a financial emergency? For example, what if one of you loses your job, or has an injury? Figuring out how you can handle a tough situation will keep you stronger. Not being prepared for a money crisis can mean the end of your marriage.
Don't be afraid to talk about money and be honest about it. It will save you some headaches in the future.
Counseling Is Good!
No matter what stage you are in your marriage, you can benefit from talking to a counselor. Whether you're a new couple, a recently married couple, new parents, or an older couple, regular counseling can help make sure the two of you are on the same wavelength.
Many couples believe they are on the same page, but oftentimes, they are not. And if there is a disagreement, things can get heated, and emotions fly. When having a fight, instead of escalating it, talking to a counselor can be the middleman you need to help you reach a compromise and cool both of you.