What Pre-Marital Counseling is Not

So often marriages end and then the spouse will go to a counselor and find out that they thought marriage would “fix” the spouse.  We wanted to trust our instincts in the beginning but we didn’t because we got caught up in the sex and chemistry or “pheromones.”  We saw the bad stuff and amazingly figured that it would pass once they slipped on the ring, were wowed by our family and friends at the reception and become so caught up in the commitment to you that he/she would magically turn into the prince or princess.  Fairytales are fiction and so is thinking we can change someone.

I know I know, if only he/she would change just those few things, they’d be perfect. Change can only come from within.  If you want to change someone, than they are not right for you.

Pre-marital counseling seems to be a new way people presume I (or insert your therapist’s name) will fix the spouse to be, so that then they can marry them.  This is not going to happen either.  Pre-marital counseling is different from your average individual therapy session.  It might go into deep emotional insights but mostly we are there to discuss the intimacy of the relationship that is often hard to do alone.  Those questions about marriage that we are too shy to ask. It is also easier when you have an appointment with someone where you can sit down and go over it with a trained listener who can provide insightful feedback.

If you are calling to ask about pre-marital therapy and we are already discussing serious problems, pre-marital therapy is not the answer. Individual therapy is more in line with handling the issues at hand.  Sure we could request that the spouse-to-be do that because “they” are the ones with all the problems but unfortunately they did not call.  I find that if you have too many concerns about a fiance that is keeping you up at night or causing you to be so stressed it is interfering with your life (can’t stop being worried about it), this probably is not the right relationship for you.  So who is?  That is the question.  Individual therapy will help you to see what patterns are re-emerging in your life that is keeping you from the right one.  If you have made the call, it is highly probable that you are ready to make this journey toward getting some answers about yourself.

Then when you have found that person, you will come and we can talk about marriage.  When it is the right person pre-marital counseling won’t be about fixing the relationship but about preparing for marriage. I don’t really see it as therapy at all but more about having a coach to prepare you for the days after the big day.

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