What’s The Advantage To Receiving A Premarital Education?
Updated July 04, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Dutil
Premarital education 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 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 U.S.A. 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 to keeping love alive.
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 will help them too.
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, and 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 the training are 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.
What Do You Learn 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 balance 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 to 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 will 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 share the household chores and prepare the family meals.
Finding out after the event that your assumptions were a fantasy will 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 the children arrive and the normal pressures of life and responsibilities start to mount, sex may become less appealing for one or both partners.
Counseling is essential to help couples understand that they may have different sexual drives and appetites and handle the post-honeymoon phase when one partner may not be as sexually adventurous or want sex as often as the other.
It will also help couples find ways to keep their sexual activity and intimacy fresh and alive throughout their marriage.
The chances are that a couple will discuss and agree 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 unlikely that these problems can be resolved without professional help. Instead, they will 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 will learn how to set boundaries for the in-laws lovingly and respectfully. You will also understand 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 and 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 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 says increasingly hurtful things that may result in long-lasting bitterness and resentment.
Premarital education can help couples learn to manage their anger, the importance of not suppressing negative emotions towards each other but instead 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 content.
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 will help you to have realistic expectations. It'll teach you the life skills you need to survive the random blows and painful situations that are a part of any life 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 this union last, they will have no problem showing this type of commitment early on, even in education.
The ReGain.US website offers this type of counseling and focuses specifically on couples and relationship advice.
If you want your marriage to go the distance, give counseling a try.
Finally, a quote from Robert C. Dodds, the American counselor and religious cleric, "The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together."
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