Nobody ever got divorced because their wedding wasn’t awesome enough.
Wedding to Marriage wants you to have a kick-ass wedding. But a kick-ass marriage is a lot more important. That’s why we insist on premarital counseling for every couple.
Discover some blind spots
The time to find out that you and your partner have different philosophies about parenting is not when your two-year-old is pitching a fit in the grocery store. The time to find out that you have different ideas about spending money is not when the new boat shows up in the driveway. The time to discuss how many cats your household will support is not when your partner comes home with a bucket full of kittens.
Unfortunately, the things couples talk about the least before marriage are the things they fight about the most after they marry. That’s because they’re so much in love that they believe they are on the same page about everything. They haven’t discovered yet that they haven’t talked about a lot of their expectations out loud to each other. The result: disillusionment.
Couples can reduce disillusionment by discussing expectations up front, so that, while a situation might take us by surprise, our partner’s reaction won’t. Wedding to Marriage premarital counseling helps couples discover and discuss expectations.
Grow some skills
Every couple wants their marriage to last and most believe that they will. They get married believing that love is the key. But research has shown that no matter how much partners love one another, love is not enough to make a marriage strong. It takes effort, too.
A durable marriage requires equal parts FEELING + EFFORT. Call it the second law of thermodynamics for relationships. Love gets us together. Skills keep us together.
Positives are not enough to keep a marriage strong if you don’t have skills for handling the negatives. Love is not enough. The skills you have as a team in navigating stressors, conflict, and negative emotions are key to keeping positives strong and the negatives from taking over.
Premarital counseling gives a couple the opportunity to approach marriage intentionally, to ensure that their heads are as fully engaged as their hearts. It helps them plan together for, not only the effort that will be needed for their marriage to thrive, but for strengthening the skills they will need to put behind their effort.
Learn to fight
Research has shown a definite correlation between a couple’s communication skills and the durability of their marriage. The same research shows that even couples who come to marriage with outstanding communication skills can benefit from premarital communication training.
That’s because, before marriage, couples tend to focus on the positives that brought them together: fun, support, values, friendship, and passion. And they tend to minimize, gloss over, or even avoid tough topics. So when stressful topics press on their marriage, they’re not as prepared to manage them as they could be.
There are two things every couple should know:
- The stuff you talk about the least before you marry often ends up being the stuff you fight about the most after you marry. So you need to talk about all the stuff.
- You need to know how to fight. The number one predictor of divorce is the persistent avoidance of conflict.
There’s all kind of research that shows that it’s not conflict that weakens marriage, but, rather, the way couples deal with conflict. If a couple doesn’t know how – or learn how – to fight productively, their disagreements will spill over and contaminate every aspect of their marriage. Happily married couples with good conflict resolution skills are significantly more likely to agree feeling understood when discussing problems than unhappily married couples.
Knowing how to fight actually strengthens a marriage. Wedding to Marriage premarital counseling introduces couples to research-proven tools for managing conflict.
Because marriage changes things
Whether you have been with your partner for ten months or ten years, getting married will change your relationship.
That’s because our childhoods soft-wired us with beliefs about marriage, relationship roles, parenting, family. Yes, even non-traditional couples come to marriage with attitudes about marriage, informed by what they learned growing up. Everyone has an unconscious idea of what is “normal” or “healthy” and what a happy marriage is. And when you marry, and you and your partner now identify as spouses rather than mere lovers, those unconscious attitudes kick into gear, and your relationship changes.
Whether or not a couple welcomes this change, most of us don’t want to be at the mercy of our unconscious. We want to be thoughtful and intentional about the dynamics of flexibility, cohesion, and communication we create in our marriage.
Premarital counseling, even if the two of you have been together forever, is an opportunity to explore the family dynamics you grew up with and the dynamics of your relationship now. And it can help you plan how you will work together to build a marriage on your terms, not the terms set for you by your unconscious.
Wedding to Marriage offers…
- Vicky Jones as your engagement counselor
- A nonjudgmental yet enlightening marriage preparedness assessment and couple workbook
- Up to six premarital counseling meetings thoughtfully tailored to your goals, values, and dynamics as a couple
Our goal is to help you stock your toolbox with tools that can help your marriage thrive in the face of today’s stressors and tomorrow’s unknown challenges.
We work on…
- Communicating expectations
- Understanding personality styles
- Problem solving
- Managing conflict
- Asking for what you want
- Listening to understand
- Stress management
- Financial management
- Navigating emotional and physical intimacy
- Sharing roles and responsibilities
- Making space for meaning and values
- Parenting and partnering as parents
- Creating the family dynamics you desire
What premarital counseling is
Discovery ~ Wedding to Marriage helps couples explore the strengths and challenges in their relationships. We dig deep into the expectations and skills each of you brings to your union. We help you assert your vision and goals. We help you identify your stressors, blind spots, and areas of idealism. Most couples find this discernment process fun and interesting.
Training ~ Premarital counseling, aka engagement counseling, is marriage education and preparation. Its purpose is to guide you through the process of toning up the skills you need to navigate the stressors that married life might throw your way. And, yes, there’s homework. A toolbox full of tools does you no good if you don’t practice. Your homework is designed to help you clarify your goals, strengthen your relationship skills, and bring you even closer together than you already are.
Confidential ~ Engagement counseling is fundamentally practical. But we also talk about topics that are sensitive and sometimes uncomfortable. What happens in our counseling meetings stays in our counseling meetings.
What premarital counseling isn’t
Judgmental ~ Wedding to Marriage’s premarital counseling process is structured to encourage couples to talk about what they see as their strengths and challenges as a couple. It provides a structure for giving voice to their values. It involves practicing effective ways of facing concerns together, but it does not involve casting shame upon a couple for their challenges, for who they are as people, or for their hopes and dreams for their life together.
Therapy ~ The purpose of premarital counseling is to help couples strengthen their relationship skills and prepare them for marriage. (The word “counsel” comes from the Latin “consilium,” which means “plan.”) While the process almost always shines a light on challenges that couples want to work on together, it does not involve diagnosis or treatment of concerns or issues that call for the expertise of a licensed therapist.
Perfect ~ Marriage education is only as good as the counselor and as effective as the work a couple is willing to put into the process and take into and through their marriage. Even so, it’s imperfect, because every one of us is a work in progress. It is important to keep learning and practicing — fine-tuning what works for you, adding to your tool box, and remembering where the tool box is when you need it.