Premarital counseling could help couples decide whether they want to go ahead and get married or not.
During premarital counseling, the therapist would provide the couple with a safe and non-judgmental space to express their thoughts and feelings and help them explore and understand each other better.
What can be discussed during premarital therapy?
Here are some topics that are usually discussed in premarital therapy:
l Concerns/ fears about getting married
l Assessing compatibility
l Core values and beliefs
l Needs and wants
l Expectations from partner post-marriage (eg. weekly date nights)
l Life experiences
l Past sexual and romantic experiences
l Boundaries (eg. physical, emotional, etc)
l Strengths and weaknesses (individually and as a couple)
l Deal breakers
l Coping skills
l Communication styles
l Mental health issues
Some topics can be generally uncomfortable to discuss but a therapist may be able to alleviate some discomfort and facilitate such discussions. People are often hesitant to talk about sex, which happens to be quite a crucial aspect of a marriage. Talking about sex is already taboo and porn perpetuates unhealthy expectations and sexual practices. Hence, it could be an important and useful subject to openly talk about. Topics related to sex could be the frequency of sex, what ‘sex’ and ‘pleasure’ mean to both partners, sexual preferences, etc. Considering the current circumstances, it’s also vital to bring awareness and talk about concepts of consent and marital rape. Marriage requires adjustment. So, it could be helpful to talk about the living situation post-marriage (living separately or with in-laws), division of household responsibilities, management of finances, adapting to each other's daily routine and way of living, how they would go about sharing common areas (bedroom, bathroom, cupboards, etc), and each partner's concept of ‘space’ or ‘me time’. The couple can also choose to talk about their long-term goals, such as their career goals-continuing education, relocating for future opportunities, etc, or about children- wanting/not wanting to have children, the preferred mode of birth control, attitude towards other resources like IVF, surrogacy, adoption; child rearing and disciplining practices, etc.
The couple can choose what they want to discuss. Be it about the topics mentioned above, or anything else that they deem important.
How is it done?
ü Each therapist has their preferred method of going about it according to their preferred school of thought.
ü The partners would take sessions individually and as a couple.
ü Confidentiality would be maintained.
ü The therapist would not take sides with either partner and would maintain a neutral stance.
In the excitement and anticipation of getting hitched, people often forget the difference between a wedding and a marriage. A wedding is an event, and a marriage is everything that comes after.
To sum it up, premarital counseling has a lot of benefits that would help a couple in the long run, such as:
Ø Evaluation of compatibility
Ø Set realistic expectations
Ø Assessing potential areas of conflict
Ø Conflict resolution skills
Ø Sharing each other’s perspectives
This understanding could help them make better decisions and learn healthy coping skills which could help them in their journey.