Too often when a couple hears the words "marriage counseling," they think of a struggling relationship on the rocks.
However, the opposite is true.
A study conducted by Bradley University shows couples who attend marital counseling before getting married, have a 30% higher chance of having a successful marriage than couples who do not.
Get a head start on a life-long marriage based on quality communication and understanding. Here are 10 reasons for premarital counseling before the wedding will benefit you.
1. Establish a Habit of Good Communication
One of the most common sources of contention in a marriage is uncommunicated expectations. Often, one spouse will become hurt, angry, or frustrated because of unmet expectations. The catch is they never made those "expectations" clear in the first place.
Attending premarital counseling as a newly-engaged couple opens up a pathway to establishing a habit of clear and candid communication between spouses.
If he never knew you expected white roses every year on your anniversary, is it fair to fault him for not getting them?
Couples who learn to communicate desires, feelings, expectations, hopes, early on are at a much lower risk of drifting apart or harboring unresolved hurts.
Professional counselors can help you learn more about communicating your real feelings, and (just as importantly), how to listen to your spouse's.
2. Discuss Finances and Budgets
Another major factor in struggling marriages is financial issues. By this, we mean specifically not talking about finances with each other.
Unfortunately, some couples feel awkward asking each other about debt, finances, or a wedding budget before they say "I do." But, studies show that talking about financial status and expectations only serve to improve your marital relationship.
Having an official forum like that in a counselor's office can make bringing up the topic of finances a little less awkward.
Making time for these talks before the wedding can save your relationship a huge amount of heartache later, and even some unpleasant surprises down the road.
3. Identify Fears
Many religious or ecclesiastical leaders encourage newly engaged couples to attend some form of marriage class or counseling prior to the wedding. This is in large part because it allows couples to open up about fears they may have about their upcoming nuptials and commitments.
Premarital counseling is a perfect place to learn what your spouse may be worried about regarding marriage. It gives you a chance to listen and discuss any worries or concerns you have.
Knowing what these fears are before you make your vows will arm you to better meet those challenges should they happen. Premarital counseling can help you know how to reassure or work with your spouse better to overcome those fears.
4. Get Helpful Marriage Advice
Meeting with a professional marriage counselor, especially one who has married themselves, can prove a treasure trove of wisdom.
While not every piece of personal advice may be relevant to you and your relationship and every marriage is unique, you may still find value in hearing advice or experiences from someone who has done it already.
5. Establish Marital and Family Goals
Do we want a home focused on religion, or aimed at academic achievement? What kind of family dynamic and culture do we want to establish?
These and other questions about family goals and desires are important to discuss before you find yourself in an argument.
Marriage counselors can help you talk about what goals to set as a couple for your future home and family. They can also help you establish ways to work toward common goals or find compromises for things you differ on.
6. Get Some Background
Sure you know the dreamy color of your sweetheart's eyes and their favorite flavor of ice cream. But do you know what their parent's relationship was like growing up?
Do you know how they feel about raising kids?
These and other obscure details about your future spouse may not have come up naturally in your dating life. Meeting with a marriage counselor can help you learn about seemingly "unimportant" topics that were missed during dating, but that could have a great impact on your future marriage.
Before you tie the knot, get the back story and share your own. Knowledge is power and preparation can work wonders in reducing cause for argument.
7. Spark More Romance
As shocking as it may seem, some couples get so distracted with the wedding, honeymoon, and family planning during their engagements, that they forget to make time for each other.
Premarital counseling is a great opportunity to slow down during the months before a wedding and reconnect.
Discussing your feelings and hopes for the future is a sure way to reignite those feelings of love that convinced you to marry your sweetie in the first place.
8. Deal with Existing Issues
No matter how much you love your future spouse, there are going to be things about them that irritate or even anger you.
There's no shame in this. There is, however, danger in it if not dealt with properly. Premarital counseling can teach you to work through the issues that seem small while dating, but that is sure to fall under the magnifying glass once you're married.
9. Learn to Handle Conflict
Conflict in marriage isn't always bad. In fact, it's a chance to grow stronger and closer. Still, knowing the right way to handle disagreements or hurt feelings before they happen or before they become huge is a vital aspect of a lasting and healthy marriage.
Premarital counseling is a major asset to couples who want to learn to approach conflict in a healthy way and get past it.
10. Reduce Your Risk of Divorce
Couples who take a proactive approach to marriage by attending premarital counseling are less likely to find themselves on a road to divorce.
They have learned to talk openly, seek help when needed, and work through issues. All aspects of a healthy, divorce-less marriage.
Premarital Counseling and "Perfect Marriages"
The reality is, no marriage is perfect. But premarital counseling is an excellent way to build a healthy foundation for your future.
Counseling can help you establish great habits and grow closer as a couple. And, for those die-hard romantics out there, check out our post on how to strive for that "perfect marriage" anyway.