Posts Tagged ‘Pre-marital advice’

What Are Some Of The Questions I Should Ask My Partner Before We Get Engaged And Married?

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Getting engaged and subsequently married is one of the most important decisions one makes in life. Your relationship with your spouse is like a music to the dance of your life. If your relationship is loving, supportive, caring, romantic and if you and your spouse feel connected, the entire tone of your life in general with be healthy and will propel you to thrive and feel good. It will make you the best version of you. Even if there are occasional wrinkles.

If the relationship is generally solid and loving, you, together, as a team will deal with life’s adversities or conflicts which are inevitable in every relationship, even a good one.

Before the engagement and marriage, it is important to address the following issues:

  • Talk about how you see your marriage, what is the vision you both have for your life together.
  • Discuss your similarities and differences in every area. It is good to know how you see your partner’s strengths and weaknesses and how these have and will continue to play out in your life together.
  • Talk about what you like/love about each other and what doesn’t quite fit and how you may be able to deal with this in years to come.
  • If there are religious differences, discuss in detail how you plan to deal with those, especially if you plan to have children.
  • It is good to identify characteristics of your parents’ marriages and how this may have influenced you in your views on what marriage looks like for you. (This may be better accomplished in pre-marital counseling).
  • The subject of children, including the number and timing is VERY important as well as what is important to you in their upbringing and education.
  • It is important to discuss how finances will be handled, how they have been dealt with up to now if you have been living together or how this may be different or same after marriage.
  • For couples getting engaged, PLEASE discuss how you see your wedding and how this vision will be translated into reality, meaning finances, influence of each family of origin, the kind of wedding you would like to have. This, often, is an experience that leads to family conflict and disillusionment between partners. Sometimes it leads to engagement and wedding being called off. Wedding is your first project as partners and you have to remember that you are now partners and have to be a team. It is very important not to get caught up in the minutiae of details of wedding planning and not loose sight of what makes you a couple and keep connection and caring as most important priorities.
  • Other topics include where to live, career goals and plans, especially after having a child, leisure and social life.

We Have Different Religions and Cultural Backgrounds – Should We Still Get Married?

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Difference in religions and cultural background presents a great challenge for couples contemplating marriage. It has been my personal and professional experience that all things being equal, having those be same or similar is a major plus.

Time and time again, I see in my office tremendous conflict, leading to unhappiness and sometimes, rupture, when people feel very strongly about their religions, especially, those that seem less compatible. Or there is no understanding or difficulty in accepting their partner’s cultural background. Often, these differences create conflict with family of origin and in some more severe cases, ostracism.

There are those from certain cultures or religious affiliation that do not want “outsiders” as part of their future family. Those contemplating marriage in these cases have to be prepared for what may happen and how this may or will affect their future marriage.

Still, many couples decide to marry despite these differences. And sometimes they have good marriages. Here are some suggestions based on my experience as a Couples Therapist:

  • Please discuss and thoroughly understand the religion and culture of your future partner. Understand their impact on your sensibilities and day to day life.
  • Decide if you will stay with your religion or if you will take on that of your partner. If you decide to convert, make sure you are truly OK with this and will not resent or hold it against your partner or in-laws. If you decide to stay with your respective religious affiliations, decide and discuss how you are going to deal with holidays, customs, worship, and most importantly raising a family. This has to be discussed and agreed upon in detail and both parties have to be committed to decisions that are made. The worst thing to do is to think that you will figure it out as you go along.
  • Another major decision is how to deal with cultural issues in wedding planning and feelings of families of origin and community. Most of the time, in my experience, if there are different religions and cultural backgrounds, accommodations are made for both and sometimes, there are two weddings. Sometimes, there is one wedding incorporating both religions and customs.
  • The most important thing is that should you decide to go ahead and get married, you have to be a team and try to make your own decisions together. All efforts need to be made to nurture relationship and connection with families of origin, but at the end of the day, it’s your partner, who is most important.

How To Make The Most Of Your Pre-Marital Counseling Sessions?

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

In my experience, pre-marital counseling sessions are a combination of identifying and hopefully working on existing relationship issues, dysfunctional communication patterns as well as discussing major topics that often surface in every marriage. Some of these include the timing and number of children, beliefs about childrearing, where to live, finances, relationship with families of origin, career goals, social life, etc.

To get the most out of these sessions, it is important to come prepared for the sessions, in terms of identifying what needs to be dealt with and some open minded and honest soul searching about thoughts  and feelings about  issues at hand as well as willingness to be honest, open and vulnerable in sessions.

As in any therapy, self examination and “homework”, which include discussions and   thinking about the sessions, what has come up during the sessions as well as willingness to make changes are critical. Presence of an experienced therapist in these sessions, hopefully, creates an atmosphere of safety to go into some uncharted territories.

Much of our template for married life comes from observing and taking in the relationship between our parents as we were growing up. Much of pre-marital counseling is exploration, understanding, teasing out and sharing of messages and imprints from our parental relationships which include romance and sex, finances as well as many other aspects of married life. There are many subliminal and straight forward messages we get from observing, participating and growing up in our family of origin. It is very important to understand the messages and images we all get from living inside our families, discuss and explore how each person sees what a marriage is supposed to look like and identify areas of potential conflict and honestly talk about it and distill what each person wants and expects.

The point is not necessarily to reach a compromise but to have an understanding, empathy and appreciation of your potential partner’s reality and desires.