BENEFITS OF PRE-MARITAL COUNSELING
In preparation for summer wedding as well as recent fall weddings I have had an increased number of couples come in asking for pre-marital counseling. When a couple comes in asking for this type of counseling I often wonder if, in fact, it is pre-marital counseling, meaning a set number of sessions to go over common and differing ideas about various aspects of married life, such as work and career goals, particularly when children are born, finances, philosophy of child rearing based on values, ideas about leisure time, sex and romance, in-laws, etc. These types of sessions are a combination of psycho education, coaching and are process driven. It is a good idea to identify and address these issues ahead of time, rather then hope for the best as they arise after the wedding.
However, many times couples that come for pre-marital counseling are really seeking couples therapy because they are having doubts and are experiencing a lot of conflict. Wedding planning itself brings up many issues, especially in terms of finances and family of origin dynamics. I have, unfortunately, had couples call off their engagement or postpone the wedding a few months prior to the wedding.
It is important to understand and decide at the onset based on evaluation during the first session what kind of counseling will take place. It is also important to keep in mind that some stress and conflict prior to wedding is normal and does not mean that a couple is not suited to each other.