What’s The Advantage To Receiving A Premarital Education?
Premarital education—also known as premarital counseling—may seem like an old-fashioned idea to some couples. After all, the most logical solution to assessing the compatibility of two people is for them to live together. Or so many people claim.
But there is at least one point worth noting: if you love this person you're dating, you don't wait to fail. You want to avoid making the usual mistakes that couples living together make, the same mistakes that can destroy relationships.
The United States ranks 10th in the world of countries with the highest divorce rate. Statistics vary from state to state, but overall, between 40% and 50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Making a marriage last and building a healthy family environment for children means taking the marriage obligation seriously.
Premarital education improves a couple's chances of staying together in a happy relationship and avoiding a painful divorce. Armed with prior knowledge of what can go wrong between partners and how to survive a rough patch goes a long way toward keeping love alive.
What Is Premarital Counseling?
Premarital counseling addresses the most common problems that affect couples: finances, communication, beliefs and values, intimacy, parenting styles, conflict resolution, decision making, the role each partner will play in the marriage, how to deal with difficult in-laws, and how much time they will spend together. (Some couples may have more unique problems not addressed in this article, and counseling can help with those as well.)
According to The Center for Healthy Relationships, premarital counseling serves as the "map to make your journey a success." No wonder then that religious organizations and privately-owned companies, along with state governments, sometimes invest in premarital counseling to minimize costly divorces.
According to a study from Austin, Texas, married couples who did not receive premarital training later said they believed such education would have improved their current level of satisfaction.
Ideally, such training provides a sense of respect for the institution of marriage. Premarital education teaches future husbands and wives that they are responsible for the happiness of their long-term relationship and emotional intimacy. Couples that take part in premarital counseling are often more determined to make the marriage last and stand a much better chance of loving each other into old age than those who don't.
Here are some of the topics that may be covered in premarital education.
According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 31% of couples reported that money issues caused major problems and conflicts within their marriage.
It's common for two people in a relationship to have completely different views about money. One partner may want to spend more extravagantly than the other or feel deeply anxious if there are no savings for a rainy day. In premarital counseling, couples will learn how to be balanced so that one partner doesn't dominate the other when decisions are made about making big purchases like a car or house or going on vacation.
A person's attitude about money depends on their background. Couples who understand why their partner is a spendthrift or a Scrooge—or anything in between—are more likely to work together and agree on the monthly household budget. Perhaps most importantly, couples will learn to discuss money disagreements openly and honestly and resolve them without harboring festering resentments towards each other.
Knowing how to communicate with each other is the foundation of a strong partnership.
Premarital counseling helps couples understand why yelling at each other is destructive. Couples will also learn the difference between winning an argument and resolving an issue by discussing the problem with open minds.
How couples communicate with each other can make or break a marriage.
Beliefs And Values
Some people believe that couples who have the same core beliefs, values, and religion are more likely to have a successful marriage than those who do not. But is this necessarily true? Couples who attend premarital counseling are sometimes surprised to find that their beliefs and values are not as similar as previously thought.
Whether a couple has common beliefs and values or widely differing opinions, premarital education can help them understand how to respect each other's views without sacrificing their own.
Roles In Marriage
Couples could be in for some nasty surprises if they assume that they understand their role in their marriage without discussing it first. Perhaps one partner has assumed the other will stay home to look after the children when they arrive or that household chores and cooking detail will be shared.
Finding out after the event that your assumptions were a fantasy may lead to resentment and unhappiness.
Sex And Intimacy
In the honeymoon stage of love and romance, sex may seem to be the one thing that is not a problem.
But as children arrive and the normal pressures of life and responsibilities start to mount, sex may become less appealing for one or both partners.
Counseling can be essential for helping couples understand that they may have different sexual drives and appetites.. Prematital counseling may also help couples learn how to handle the post-honeymoon phase when one partner may not be as sexually adventurous or want sex as often as the other. Counseling can also help couples find ways to keep their sexual activity and intimacy fresh and alive throughout their marriage.
Chances are good that a couple will have discussed and agreed on how many children they will have and when they will have them even before they attend counseling.
What they may not have discussed is their parenting style. Are they on the same page about how children should be disciplined when necessary? Or whether children should have a set routine for bedtime? When should the new baby be moved from its parents' bedroom to its own?
Different parenting styles can be a minefield. It's far better that any significant differences are addressed before getting married than for the children to suffer a broken home later.
It's a fortunate position to be in if you get along well with your future in-laws, but this is often not the case. In-laws may be controlling and intrusive. They may be manipulative and demanding of your time. They may drive you crazy, insisting that you live, think, and behave the way they do.
It's possible that these problems can't be resolved without professional help. Instead, they may lead to deeply hurtful arguments once you're married.
Premarital counseling helps couples avoid making each other choose between in-laws and each other. You can learn how to set boundaries for the in-laws lovingly and respectfully. Counseling may also guide you to understanding the importance of compromise without self-sacrifice.
During the first flush of romantic love, a person may be so smitten that they agree with every decision that their future spouse makes. After all, they love them beyond words, and they want them to be happy.
But what happens after marriage when your spouse decides, without discussing it with you, that the family is moving to Dubai to pursue a job opportunity? How will you feel about pausing your career without a reasonable prospect of even getting a job in Dubai? What about the children's schooling?
Couples need a roadmap of how to come to a unified decision without one partner imposing their will on the other, perhaps leaving the other feeling trapped and oppressed.
It's a rare couple who live peaceably with each other 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There's a high probability that couples will sometimes be irritable or angry with each other.
Habits that didn't use to annoy you may suddenly do so one day, and yelling at your partner will be both surprising and hurtful to them. Mild annoyance at a habit that your partner is unaware of can quickly escalate into full-blown anger. Each person may say increasingly hurtful things that can result in long-lasting bitterness and resentment.
Premarital education can help couples learn to manage their anger. Counseling can teach the importance of not suppressing negative emotions towards each other but rather discussing them positively and knowing when and how to offer an honest apology.
Spending Time Together
Some couples have strong, healthy marriages when they're "joined at the hip." They do everything together, and they're never apart. Others follow their own interests separately and spend a lot of time apart, and they also have strong marriages.
But what happens when one partner wants to spend more time together and the other less time? Does one partner feel neglected and unloved and the other resentful and claustrophobic?
Counseling can help couples understand why one partner needs more time together and the other less time. It can help you reach compromises with an open and honest discussion where you both feel loved and heard.
Romantic love for the person you're going to marry is the best feeling in the world. Still, the honeymoon euphoria may be followed by disappointment and festering resentment if you don't put in the work to give your marriage a chance of being long-term, strong, and happy.
Premarital counseling may help you to have realistic expectations. It can teach you the life skills you need to survive the random blows and painful situations that are a part of most lives and can push even the happiest marriage to the brink of divorce.
Premarital education is an investment in love. If a couple is determined to make their union last, they will likely have no problem showing this type of commitment early on, making time to learn more about each other and how they want their marriage to look.
Regain is an online therapy platform whose services focus specifically on couples and relationship advice. Regain is affordable and convenient, and sessions can be held at a time that works for everyone's schedule. You and your partner can meet with a counselor from the comfort of home—or anywhere with an internet connection.
Online therapy has helped many couples work through their relationship issues. No matter where a couple is located, online therapy services offer connections with a wide range of therapists. This can make it easier to find a counselor who is trained to help you and your partner prepare for marriage.
Consider getting ready for your marriage by getting some premarital education. As Robert C. Dodds, an American counselor and religious cleric, states, "The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together."
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the purpose of premarital education classes?
Many couples decide to go through a premarital education program. These classes can help you and your partner establish goals for the marriage, address any conflicts, and give you problem-solving skills for when issues arise in the marriage. Many people get understandably excited after a proposal and believe that their marriage will be perfect. The truth is that conflict is a part of any relationship. The key is to be able to communicate effectively to work through it together.
Is premarital education required?
No, a premarital education program isn’t required to get married. Though in some states, a marriage license will cost less if a couple opts to complete one. Many couples feel uncomfortable at the idea of opening up to a counselor, or they feel that taking these kinds of classes is a way of admitting there’s a chance their marriage will fail. The truth is that these programs do just the opposite—they set your relationship up for success.
A premarital education program is a great choice you and your partner can make to ensure that you are on the same page about your marriage, life goals, and plans for the future. This can be especially helpful for couples who may have experienced serious issues in the past or have never talked seriously about their finances and assets.
How long are premarital courses?
There are different options available in terms of the length of these kinds of courses. Couples can opt to go to weekly therapy sessions or attend a single workshop. It’s up to you and your partner to decide what style of premarital counseling will work best for you.
A premarital education program is one way to ensure that you and your future spouse are connected and prepared to integrate your lives long term. When you enter into a marriage, many of your future decisions are bound to another person.
The great thing about premarital counseling is that it doesn’t have to be a painful or stressful process. Though you may experience some feelings of discomfort, it can also be a very fun way for you and your future spouse to get to know each other on a deeper level. A premarital education program can feel like a very special date.
What are some premarital questions?
In a premarital education program, your counselor will ask you specific probing questions to help you and your partner feel open to discussing your wants and desires. Some examples of these questions are:
Why do you think you should get married?
Do you feel that you know how you want to go through life as a couple?
How often do you consume substances?
How will financial situations be handled between the two of you?
How are you going to divide household chores?
Do you want to have children?
Though some of these questions may seem like they have obvious answers to you, you may be surprised by your partner’s responses. A premarital education program may also help you talk more about your religious beliefs, politics, and values.
Is premarital counseling effective?
Yes, premarital counseling can be very effective! In fact, that couples that engage in a premarital education program are 30% more likely to be successful. Many people go into a marriage without a deep understanding of what it entails to make a relationship work long term. Learning more about the specifics of what to expect can help prevent disappointment later on.
How many sessions are needed for premarital counseling?
This varies on what kind of premarital education program you decide to go for. Some couples find that one workshop session is enough to discuss the major points they want to address. Others may feel that continuous counseling is more beneficial and may decide to see a counselor throughout their marriage.
There is no shame in wanting additional help in having difficult conversations to ensure you and your partner are on the right path. Counseling is a great tool for people in all kinds of life situations. Setting you and your future spouse up for success is an amazing choice, and it can do nothing but make your bond stronger, healthier, and more special.
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