Before you get married, there are a million nuts and bolts and practicalities to talk about. However, most couples barely skim the surface. Young people in their early 20s are naive enough to think these things don’t matter, but as soon as the kids come along, they matter A LOT! That’s why I strongly recommend at least six months of formal premarital counseling done by somebody registered and licensed in that area.
According to the Journal of Family Psychology, spouses who have gone through premarital counseling are 30 percent less likely to divorce in the first five years of marriage. So why don’t more couples take this precaution? A lot of people are too emotional or afraid to look in the mirror. They’re scared they’ll find out something about themselves or their potential spouse that they won’t like. However, the truth is not going to magically go away after you get married. A good premarital counselor can help you bring up the heavy subjects that are hard to talk about.
Here are just a few of the things you’ll explore in premarital counseling:
1. How do you handle conflict? What are your hot buttons? Do you know how to solve problems without yelling, screaming, name-calling, pouting, or giving the silent treatment? An experienced counselor will help you get your egos out of the way and work as a team.
2. What baggage are you bringing to the relationship? There are a lot of resentments people have even before they get married. If you grew up with divorced parents or a crappy family, you need to get that seaweed out of your ears before you carry it into your own marriage.
3. What are your career goals? How many days a week and what hours will you work? Do you plan on changing careers?
4. What are your finances like? Does someone owe a lot of money? Who’s going to manage the finances and take care of household expenses? What kind of lifestyle do you want to have, and do you know how to save for it?
5. How is the sex? If you’re already getting it on, how is it going? Do you talk about sex with each other? Is either one of you hungering for more romance, kisses, hugs, or foreplay?
6. When do you want to have kids and how many? If you can’t have kids, are you going to adopt? Who is going to take care of the children?
7. What are your religious beliefs? If one of you believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the other doesn’t, how will you manage that? Is Jesus divine every alternate day? It’s not hard to see why married couples who share a religion have a higher success rate because it’s one more commonality they can embrace together.
8. Do you like each other’s friends? How much time do you expect to socialize separately from each other?
9. How are your relationships with your in-laws? Who are you going to be spending holidays with, and what will your traditions be?
Many times, couples get through premarital counseling and don’t end up getting married because they discover they’re not a match. That’s OK! It’s actually a very admirable conclusion that will save you a lot of pain and heartache down the road.