How do you know you need premarital counseling?
Getting engaged is a blissful time for many couples. It’s fun to have family & friends celebrating your love. There can be months of parties, presents, excited phone calls, and congratulations from all corners of your life. What’s not to love?
Planning a wedding can also be a fun, major project that you can do together. You can share all the dreams and visions you have had about your ideal wedding. The ceremony planning itself is an opportunity for many couples to bond and talk about deep feelings for each other.
But what are the signs you really need premarital counseling?
- You haven’t talked about the big issues.
Do you avoid talking about topics like money, sex, religion, politics, whether you want children, or family relationships?
Couples often avoid these challenging topics because of fear of arguments or stumbling into a show stopper. If you are afraid of an argument and you avoid talking about certain things, you are dodging talking about issues that are not going away. These big topics will most likely come back up, perhaps frequently, throughout your relationship.
There is a way to learn to have difficult conversations like these so they don’t feel destabilizing to the relationship. Premarital Counseling can help you share the fears of talking about those big issues, navigate the trouble spots and come out closer and more confident about your relationship.
Those are normal struggles, as long as you talk about them and know what to do to find your way back together.
But, if you are fearful of those common struggles in relationships, you may try to cope by beginning to avoid certain challenging topics. Avoidance usually leads to festering feelings, growing resentments, and increasing arguments.
- You feel pressure to be happy all the time
There can be a lot of social pressure for you and your beloved to feel Non! Stop! Happiness!
The downside here is that it may create unrealistic expectations that couples are supposed to always feel happy, certain, and as close as ever during engagement.
You may experience uncertainties, difficult moments or disconnections with your partner during your engagement. If you assume that’s not supposed to happen during such a happy time, you can begin to worry that there’s something wrong with your relationship.
The truth is, all couples need reassurance, get into arguments and go through periods of distance from time to time.
- You are getting stuck in a negative pattern and you don’t know how to repair it
You may need premarital counseling if you find yourself saying things like:
- “We have the same arguments over and over again.”
- “He shuts down on me sometimes or withdraws from me.”
- “It seems like she’s critical of me a lot.”
- “When things are bad between us, it feels awful and we can stay upset for a long time.”
- “We don’t ever really resolve our issues. We brush things under the rug.”
All couples have a negative cycle they get stuck in repeatedly. This is a normal part of being two people with different instincts in relationships and different messages about love from growing up.
What is essential to make your love last is to know what your negative cycle is and, most importantly, how to repair from it.
Each of you has things you do or say that can rub on the raw spot of your lover. You both do or say things when you start to feel upset that can trigger the other person, and escalate your disagreements.
Do you know your partner’s tender, raw spots? Do you know what you do or say to make it worse for them? Do they know yours? Do you clearly see each other’s attempts to reach out for closeness and repair? Do you respond to each other?
If the answer to any of these is no, there is a great opportunity here for you to build a foundation for your relationship that will help you weather the storms life will bring.
- You’ve lost sight of the big picture of your relationship
The dreams and work involved in creating the biggest day of your life can easily take center stage. Weddings are typically expensive, and so of course you want to make good choices that create happy memories for you and your guests.
Weddings are also very symbolic, and so you put great attention into making things special and meaningful.
This is great as long as you are building rituals and ways of connecting that you will have once the last photos have been ordered and the last thank you notes written.
If you find yourself focusing too much of your attention on a single day, Premarital Couples Counseling can help you carve out the time to invest in and deepen your relationship right now. You want to nourish your relationship now and in the years ahead.
- Wedding planning has taken over and squeezed out romance, deep conversations and sex
Relationships that make it long-term are ones where partners are committed to turning towards each other over and over again.
Whether you are turning towards each other with romantic, affectionate gestures; deeper sharing about your feelings, fears and life goals; or connecting physically, relationships must be nurtured to last.
Wedding planning can be a fun, shared experience that brings you together. Just make sure you are prioritizing the feeling of closeness in those plans, rather than just completing tasks and moving on to the next one. And recognize the value of investing in premarital counseling. It’s well worth the time and money to shore up your relationship before you head to the altar.
Allison Rimland is a Denver-based Licensed Professional Counselor. She is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist and specializes in Premarital Counseling, Couples Therapy and relationship issues. www.ThriveFamilyServices.com