You’re getting married!
But before you say, “I do,” and enter one of the most important institutions of your life, you should learn how to have a successful marriage.
I know that right now, you can’t imagine what could go wrong…
…if anything, everything feels just right.
I mean, it’s exciting as you inch up to the big day! It’s all you can think about.
You’re pouring through bridal magazines, looking for a good band for the wedding, picking out rings, planning a honeymoon, ramping up for bachelor and bachelorette parties.
You’re telling friends, family, coworkers, showing off your engagement ring, and sharing how the proposal went.
Everyone is so happy and excited for you! All you can think about is planning your wedding.
It’s like bliss! You can’t believe that you found the one! You’re on cloud nine!
But you don’t yet know what it’s like to BE married.
“BE MARRIED”? I know… it kind of sounds ridiculous. Because I know what you’re thinking to yourself right now:
We’re so happy and in love… everything will be great… love will conquer all!
We get along so well. I mean, we hardly ever argue about anything! And the things we argue about will not be an issue after we marry.
We have so much in common. Our values and goals line up perfectly! And the ones that don’t, I’ll be ok with.
We know all those relationship pitfalls. That’s just not us!
Your ideas about marriage… where do you think they came from?
For most of us, our ideas about what marriage should or shouldn’t be come mainly from the homes we grew up in.
Now, some of those patterns are good, and some are bad. Some of them work, and some of them don’t.
Here’s the issue:
How we learn, and our experiences with communication, conflict resolution, intimacy, finances, kids, and raising kids varies. It varies within our home and with our partners.
We learn communication styles from our family of origin. What did you see and or hear in your home: yelling, silent treatment, tearful pleas, cold logic? Whatever your experience was, you bring one of those styles to this marriage. Your partner picked up one from their home, which is most likely different from yours. When you start to bridge the larger discussions such as kids, finances, in-laws, and intimacy, communication becomes more complex, and we resort to what we know – our communication style. You may already be experiencing some communication style struggle.
Conflict resolution is one of the more important indicators of a happy and successful marriage, and it starts with good communication. Some families resolve conflict; however, most struggle. Some try to resolve conflict without a healthy outcome. Other families have long, dragged-out battles or sweep the issues under the carpet. Some concede or abandon the issues – this breeds more conflict.
Not having a good understanding of how you or your partner resolve conflict, how or why your conflict styles clash, and how to work with your different styles creates resentment, feeling unheard, and loneliness. Marital topics and issues do not come up when we are dating. They come up when you have married.
What are your marital expectations?
We have conscious expectations we learn from our families of origin, such as who pays the bills, who makes dinner plans, who is the main breadwinner, and more. We also have some unconscious expectations…
You each have different ideas of how much time you spend together now that you are married.
How much time do you spend with family and friends?
When do you want to start having kids, who will be the primary caregiver, and what does that look like?
Can you continue rituals from your family of origin in your new family?
How do you keep your intimate life exciting, and how do you keep it on track after marriage, jobs, and kids?
How much money can you each spend without having to tell the other?
Expectations also come from past relationships. What you hear from others about marriage, witnessing other relationships, and how you imagine your marriage should be. All this is part of who you are, and what you bring often isn’t discussed and will be a hurdle later.
Intimacy is a significant factor for a healthy marriage. For many, it’s also a very difficult and sensitive issue to discuss.
You learn about intimacy and love from your home. You read about it, watch movies about it, learn about it in school, experience it in past relationships, and then never discuss your life’s history that will undoubtedly affect your marriage. How you approach intimacy is different. How you express it is different. How you think and feel about it is different – all based on your life’s experiences.
What makes one feel loved and cared for may not be what makes your partner feel love. What is essential to your intimate life may not be necessary to your partner. Do you know what that would be?
Often, intimacy suffers because of problems filtered through the marriage or because the intimacy itself causes problems.
Money… a hot topic!
Money is often used consciously or unconsciously to control the marriage. Money comes with a lot of thoughts and feelings – high emotions.
Often, money is used as leverage which unbalances the marriage and leads to feeling “controlled” – how you save and spend money. One partner might want to save money in stocks and bonds and the other in real estate investments or the bank. One partner may prefer to spend more money on luxury items, and the other may not.
How you value money will be different than your partner. One of you may place higher importance on money instead of family. Money is one of the biggest sources of arguments and discord in a marriage. Even though you may come from similar social-economic backgrounds, your thoughts and feelings around money are different.
You are marrying someone who did not grow up in your home, and even though you may have many things in common, there’s something else going on: Deep down, the way you approach, think, and feel about various situations and challenges that you’ll face in marriage can be different from your partner’s…
And you won’t discover those differences until you’re married.
Dating is the relationship’s fantasy. Marriage is its reality.
What do I mean?
You WILL have conflict with your partner, and it’s unrealistic to believe that marriage will somehow make it go away or get better. It won’t. In fact, marriage will only make that conflict worse.
Marriage is the ultimate “reality check.” You’re going to have to learn to cooperate and work through conflict on all sorts of issues:
Finances: How you spend money and how you save it…
Communication: How you use language to relay your wants and needs to your partner…
Conflict: How do you resolve disputes that never happened before you got married…
Expectations: What you expect (consciously or subconsciously) from yourself and your spouse…
Children: Whether you want them, how many, and how to raise them…
Intimacy: How you keep your physical and emotional connection alive over the long haul…
The list goes on…
You need the right tools to be able to work through all this.
Here’s what premarital counseling can do for you…
Ultimately, it’s about building a more secure foundation on which to build your lives together. To do that, you have to put it all out on the table. That’s what I help you do. I help you explore all the potential issues and challenges you’ll face – all the things you never IMAGINED you’d have to deal with.
Being INFORMED about your partner before marrying is critical because it takes the surprise out of the equation. No one wants to learn these things AFTER they’ve made a lifelong commitment! THAT is one of the primary sources of anger and conflict in a marriage: not knowing what you’ve gotten into until it’s “too late.”
You will also learn more about yourself, your wants, and your needs in ways you had not thought of before.
With premarital counseling, you’ll build a stronger future:
If you learned to be logical and emotionally detached while communicating and your partner learned tearful pleas, and if you have not learned how to bridge the difference, your communication breaks down, and conflict resolution is difficult to achieve. You will not understand each other or hear each other.
In session, we will look at your communication styles, figure out what is not working, what each of you needs, and work toward helping you each feel heard and understood in a way you had not before. Treating each other kindly and respectfully is not difficult when things are good. It’s more important how you treat each other when things are not good! Are you saying things to each other that you shouldn’t say? Once you have said it, you can’t take it back! Most of our communication is meta-communication. It’s important to keep in mind your gestures, eye-rolling, hand gestures, body position, and words you use.
Part of the marital foundation is discussing what is important to you in your marriage? What are your ideas, hopes, and dreams about marriage? What is negotiable and what is not? What do you want your marriage to look like, smell like, and feel like? How do you assess the very essence of who you are and what you bring, what you need, and want from your marriage?
We will discuss starting from where you are now, how these core values came into place, what they mean to you, and what they mean to your partner. A strong marriage is only built on a strong foundation.
Often, it doesn’t really matter “what” the conflict is – it’s how you get through it!! You will gain the necessary tools and techniques to help you resolve conflict.
You’ll learn how to have healthy disagreements, develop new ways to approach conflict, acquire new ways to share thoughts and feelings without having “to make a point,” work on your thoughts and feelings about issues when you disagree and what happens with the issue/s from here. You will learn about healthy time-outs, appropriate times to talk, things to do and not to do when conflicts arise, how to argue and disagree respectfully, and how to come to decisions around the issues. With guidance, support, and direction from me, we will work on present issues so that you can learn how to have a healthier conflict resolution
Let’s build you a picture of what you want your marriage to look like so when you are old and grey, and you are sitting on your porch or in front of your fireplace with your spouse while music plays in the background, you can look back and be happy and proud of the life you built together!
We will work on what each of you envisions and how you get there. Sharing your vision will help you make decisions and choices that lead to your goal. Having a shared vision keeps you both working toward that picture.
This is an investment you can’t afford NOT to make!
Marriage is about planning for your future – not just your wedding day. The wedding will come and go, but you want your marriage to last a lifetime.
Studies have shown that premarital counseling increases the quality of your relationship and overall marriage satisfaction.
You will experience married life, but if you’re not on the same page as your partner with all that comes with that life, it won’t be a happy one.
Remember: this is the person you come home to every day. Create a home that you want to come home to. I will help you put all this together so that you, together, build the marriage you want and are proud of.
It’s time to plan ahead!
Give me a call for your free consultation: (310) 281-7113.