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