Engaged couples hope for a long, healthy, and happy marriage. This is more possible if we start with open and an honest conversations; premarital counselling is a great avenue to have these conversations. A study at the University of Denver found that premarital education reduces the divorce rate of participants by thirty percent (Stanley, et al, 2006). So what could we learn during pre-marital counselling? Usually, the couples will be able to:
- Be more cognizant about the strengths of their relationship and realise reasons why they are together and wanting to build future lives in the first place. This heightened awareness and verbalisation will in turn reaffirm and strengthen the relationship.
- Gain better understanding on how personality, family history, and life experiences can influence the relationship. With proper assessment, couples will be able to learn about personal needs, values, and how those affect our views and attitudes toward many factors of marriage such as intimacy and sexuality, finance, and parenting to name a few. The similarities and the differences in the couple will be discovered more during this process. However, in pre-marital counselling, the couple will learn to manage those similarities and differences better so that they will be able to utilise them to their advantage instead of looking at those as something that could tear them apart.
- Be guided by the counsellor to plan for their future better by discussing and managing expectations. It is very important to be conscious about what we expect from our partner and the marriage itself. During the discussion about expectations, couples could discover what being a “wife” or “husband” means to them, including their expectations of roles and division of labour in their household, or even what sex or infidelity means to them. The counsellor can help couples set and accomplish financial or family planning goals.
- Find new information. The counselling sessions will give couple the opportunity to discuss issues that do not come up in normal conversations, such as their fears, dreams, desires, beliefs, values, and needs. Individuals might have different reference points in terms of familial history, ethnic, cultural, and religious views that might prevent them from openly discussing certain topics. That is why counselling could offer a safe space for individuals to share things that are difficult to talk about.
By the end of the program, couples should have a more in-depth understanding of their partner and a set of tools to help start their marriage on the same page.
By Natalia Indrasari – MA (Psychoanalytic Studies), MS Counselling