Pre-marital counselling

When it comes to engagement and wedding preparations, it is such a great joy and excitement for couples and their friends and family. The fantasy of getting dressed up, walking down the aisle with one’s life partner, exchanging vows and rings, committing to one another, and living happily ever after. The wedding looks so glamorous and perfect. But we all know that the wedding is the start of a life-long journey that has rainy days and stormy nights.

As the old saying goes, ” To fall in love is easy, staying in love is a challenge, and letting go (of self) is the hardest.” As we get married and live together, we find many surprises in the first 1-2 years of marriage. These “surprises” could be as simple as how to do the laundry, who does the laundry, and how often; how to manage finances; how to spend our nights and holidays together; or how to manage in-laws. Some of these surprises are difficult to imagine or identify before marrying each other. When couples are unequipped to identify the issues and look deeper to understand each other’s values, misunderstandings and resentment build up; gradually pulling individuals away from the relationship. Many researchers and marriage therapists point out that if couples are given the chance to understand each other’s expectations of marriage and learn to communicate effectively during the courtship, they are likely to have a stable and enjoyable marriage. 

Premarital counselling is structured counselling that can help couples prepare for marriage, address issues, understand similarities and differences, build communication skills, allow couples to discover new things about themselves and their relationships, and plan for their future. It usually takes place 6 months to a year before the engagement, and couples are required to meet with the therapist at least once a month for a 2-hour session. 

The therapist will facilitate couples to explore marriage-related themes such as finance, communications, marriage roles, values and beliefs, affections and sex, relationships with each other’s friends and families, making big decisions, children and parenting, family background, and personality. It is intended to help couples prepare and have a solid foundation for their relationship. It is not a test to assess whether couples fail or pass the courtship, and it is also not a measurement to indicate a breakup or getting married.

I am a therapist myself and recognized the huge benefits of premarital counselling in my own journey to marital life. It teaches us how cultural differences affect our relationship, how to manage our expectations of each other’s roles in marriage, how to understand each other’s stress profile, and how to express our feelings and emotional needs in a way that brings us closer together. If you have been in a stable relationship for more than a year, I highly recommend you start pre-marital counselling today!

References

Prepare & Enrich https://www.prepare-enrich.com/

Warren, N. C. (1998, April 1). Finding the Love Of Your Life (Second Edition). Focus on the Family.

The Gottman Institute https://www.gottman.com/blog/category/dating-premarital/

Written by:
Elizabeth Pan
Psychotherapist & Counsellor
SACAC Counselling

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