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What is Pre-Marriage Counselling

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If you and your partner are struggling to step into a long-term commitment, pre-marriage counselling is something that you both would need at the moment.

To get married is often a difficult choice for many. There is fear, confusion, heap of responsibilities, adjustment issues and the list can go on. However, having a discussion with your partner about your issues, expectations and future planning in front of an experienced counsellor can reduce your stress and confusion regarding marriage.

Learn about pre-marriage counselling, what to expect in the counselling session and the benefits of attending pre-marriage counselling sessions from this blog.
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Pre-marriage counselling is a form of couples therapy that is conducted before marriage with an intent to help couples explore their expectations, plans for the future, and what might be involved when sharing their lives together.

It can also help identify potential conflict areas and equip couples with tools to navigate them successfully. This form of counselling aids in building a strong foundation for marriage. 
Typically, in a pre-marriage counselling, counsellors ask couples to dig deep and revisit their past family and life experiences and any previous impressions they have formed about marriage before tying the knot.

What are the Pre-Marriage Counselling Topics?

Working collaboratively with the counsellor, couples can consider discussing a variety of important topics. Some of them are-

Expectations from Marriage

You may have the idea of what marriage looks like but unaware of how it actually feels to be a spouse. Surely, marriage is not only about planning the wedding decor as portrayed in Pinterest. In pre-marriage counselling, you and your partner will talk about what you expect from each other in your marriage as well as how each of you see the structure of marriage.

Past Experiences

It is important to talk about any preconceived notion of marriage which may have been in one’s mind due to past experiences. In a marriage, old relationships turn into new ones, and any negative belief can affect the newly formed relations. Talking about them would allow you to make healthy choices and relate to your partner in healthier ways.

Communication and Conflict Resolution

In pre-marriage counselling, you will talk about your plans for conflict management and work with your counsellor to foster communication and conflict resolution skills you can carry with you. In a marriage, lack of good communication skills can be the reason for conflict. That is why you need to learn how to communicate with your partner.

Financial Planning

Often in marriages, there are financial fights. To prevent such fights, you should lay out all your money thoughts in pre marriage counselling. Partners should get clear on each other’s past and present financial history, and common future goals and intentions to avoid this common relationship pitfall.

Intimacy Issues

While it might be uncomfortable to talk about your sex life in front of your counsellor who is a total stranger, discussing and understanding the general physiological and emotional gender differences would open the door to a healthy physical relationship.

Having Children

In any marriage, it is important to talk about how many children you want, parenting styles, extended family involvement, and more. Helping couples understand and identify the issues leaves them and their marriage better prepared.

Types of Pre-marriage Counselling

There are different types of couples therapy that can be applied to couples at any stage of their relationship, including pre-marriage counselling.  
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Gottman Method

The Gottman Method was developed by Dr. John and Dr. Julie Gottman that involves conducting a detailed assessment of you and your partner and then using a therapeutic framework to address areas of conflict. 
This form of therapy aims to improve the quality of friendship between you and your partner, increase intimacy, and equip both of you with problem-solving skills to build a stronger relationship.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

Emotionally focused therapy, developed by Dr. Sue Johnson and Dr. Les Greenberg, is a form of short-term therapy that aims to improve the attachment and bond between couples, leading to better communication and a stronger relationship.

Psychodynamic Couples Therapy

Psychodynamic couples therapy examines the underlying issues that motivate interaction cycles. This therapy identifies and addresses factors like your hopes for closeness, love, and appreciation and fears of abandonment and disapproval that can help you and your partner better understand and accept each other. 

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What are the Benefits of Pre-marriage Counselling?

Benefits of Pre-marriage Counselling
In general, pre-marriage counselling opens the door of communication and reveals the various sides of the personality of both you and your partner. Attending the counselling session means you genuinely want to put effort in your new relationship.

“Sessions can reveal hidden worries and underlying patterns, set the tone for ongoing communication, and help you create goals and modify behaviours into the future,” says Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist.

The possible benefits of pre-marriage counselling are-

Helps to Address Issues and Find Solutions

Pre-marriage counselling allows couples to know about each other’s different issues such as monetary issues, or disagreements about the future; whether they should have kids or not
Talking about these issues before marriage can help prevent conflicts from happening. Couples need to come in pre marriage counselling with a candid mindset so that they can fix issues and come to a settlement.

Lets Couples Discover Each Other

Counsellors often ask a lot of questions when they are working with engaged couples. Listening and answering to those allows the couple to understand their partner better. 
There are often uncomfortable subjects and information, which you might not want to share with your partner initially. Talking with a counsellor can help you open up and would allow you to learn more about each other and understand your partner better. 

Aids Couples in Planning the Future

Many pre-marriage counsellors do more than just help couples talk through their current issues. They also help them plan for their future. 
For example, pre-marital counsellors help couples to set goals that they hope to achieve; whether it’s with their finances or where they want to see themselves in the next five years, whether they want children or not and so on. 
Talking to someone experienced like a pre-marital counsellor, you will get the right advice because they are experienced in this. Many times, pre-marital counsellors understand the struggles of trusting your partner, and other issues that may arise in your mind like intimacy, hurdles of finances etc. They can provide suggestions to help you in taking the right decision.

Promotes Understanding and Ends Miscommunication

Relationships often fail because of miscommunication. Your partner can misinterpret you even if you have the right intent. 
Pre-marital counselling can help reduce miscommunication and teach you how to resolve them. Pre-marital counselling also teaches you how to talk to your partner and express your needs.

Brings Positive Attitude towards Marriage

Many people have the fear of marriage and think that “marriage is the end of the road.” Perhaps they have known or seen individuals suffering in their marital lives and hence, they don’t want that to happen in their life as well. Pre marriage counselling allows couples to sit down and create a positive outlook on marriage before they set off for the adventure.
It is important to bring your own experience and history, and even opinions while in a counselling session. It may not match with what your partner said. Sometimes, the religious beliefs, family dynamic and the upbringings might be much different than yours. But, here is the thing-relationships and marriages are what you make of it. 
By discussing your expectations and listening to your partner’s, you will be able to understand your partner better, and in turn, offer much support before you two get married. 

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Pre-Marriage Counselling: What to Expect?

In the initial stage of premarital counselling, you and your partner would be asked how each of you are feeling about premarital counselling, and if you and your partner are nervous or excited.
You might face questions such as “How did you meet?” “How long have you been together?” “When is the wedding?” “How is the planning for the wedding going?”
You would be asked about your expectations from premarital counselling, and ask why you and your partner chose to engage in premarital counselling.
Couples may be assessed, both individually and together. During the course of counselling, both of you will be encouraged to share life experiences and events, which can help shed light on your expectations from your conjugal life. 

Pre-marriage Counselling Questions and Answers

The following questions are often asked by counsellors in a pre-marriage counselling session. While the questions might not be exactly the same, you can get a general idea of the possible questions you and your partner might have to face.
Questions and Answers

Premarital questions on marital roles

1. What role would you want to play in your marriage? What do you mean by role here? Clarify it.
2. What role would you expect your partner to play? 
3. How should you divide household chores?
4. What do you think is the most difficult thing or issue about marriage?

Premarital questions on values, and beliefs

1. What are your religious beliefs? If you don’t share the same view on faith with your partner, what will you do?
2. What is considered infidelity to you?
3. What could make you lose your trust in your partner? 

Premarital questions on finance

1. Would you have joint or separate accounts? If not, what are the reasons for not willing to share your assets?
2. Will you have a prenuptial agreement? Reasons for this? Are you both being honest about your feelings as you enter into prenuptial?
3. Do you know how to discuss your spending styles and your relationship with money? Do you have an outstanding loan that your partner should know of? Do you have any debt that you are hiding? 
4. Are you a saver or a spendthrift?

Premarital questions on conflict resolution

1. How do you handle arguments?
2. Is career more important than family?
3. Do you want to discuss issues as they arise or deal with them later?
4. If your partner has a disagreement with your family, which side would you choose?
5. How will you resolve your future conflicts?

Premarital questions on intimacy

1. How many times a week would you want to have sex?
2. What is your best sexual fantasy?
3. What is the most reliable way to achieve satisfaction?
4. What turns you off?
5. What gets you in the mood?
6. Do you have any fears about sex? Is there anything you are holding back?
The answers to these questions would definitely vary according to individuals, their opinions and preferences. That is why the questions do not have any specific answers. Also, the answers should be instant and spontaneous that would help the counsellor figure out what to suggest.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Is pre-marriage counselling compulsory?

While it may not be compulsory, various researches have identified that pre-marriage counselling is a helpful way to improve your communication and conflict management skills while increasing the overall relationship quality and satisfaction.

Is pre-marriage counselling religious?

Some religious leaders offer pre-marriage counselling. However, pre-marriage counselling doesn’t have to take place in a religious context. Plenty of traditional counsellors also offer premarital counselling services.

How long does pre-marriage counselling last?

It depends on whether you want the process to go faster or a bit slow. Generally, premarital counselling lasts for about 8-10 weeks.

Is premarital counselling worth it?

While the answer would vary from couples to couples, most couples would agree that premarital counselling is worth it. Couples engaging in premarital counselling have a more realistic view of marriage and a deeper level of commitment to each other. 

Conclusion

Often people are in love but hesitate to get married, either due to fear of marriage or thinking about the responsibilities they need to carry out. Pre-marriage counselling can eradicate the doubts and help build a positive impression about marriage. Moreover, it prepares you mentally, before saying “I do.”

If you are a marriage counsellor who wants to expand your expertise in the field of counselling, you can enrol in courses like REBT Counselling Course, Life Coaching and Counselling Course to better understand personalities, human behaviour and psychology.

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