When a couple decides that they have found their ‘soul mate,’ or their ideal partner with whom to share the rest of their lives, counselling is rarely the first thing that they consider. So why would someone chose to take this step?Marriage and all other permanent relationship pairings have changed as people’s expectations and aspirations have also changed along with the revolution in social structures, over the last few generations. It has now become a ‘throw-away’ world where things that no longer work are quickly discarded and this includes marriage.
Surprisingly, many people assume that marriage will be capable of dealing with the inevitable problems that arise despite the comparative ease of separation and divorce. Women, in particular, are now rarely dependant upon a partner to completely financially support them and there are many exterior support agencies available in comparison to, say, the 1950s.
Another contributing factor to the breakdown of permanent relationships, is the emphasis on the ‘individual’, in today’s society. There are many courses run and self help books offered, to help the individual ‘find’ themselves. Learning to live as a couple or as a family unit has perhaps, become less of a priority.
Why do people choose to get married/ commit to a permanent relationship? Sometimes it is for the wrong reasons and they may not be always consciously be aware of them. Pre-marital counselling can help couples to look at the underlying reasons for their desire to marry.
Here are some of the negative reasons for marriage:
- Low self esteem which is boosted by someone having chosen you as special
- Sexual frustration
- Financial problems
- A desire to escape from an unhappy situation
- Sharing a common problem/ serious life experience
- Family pressure
- A fear of being single after previously being married
- Fear of losing a ‘good catch’
- The idea that the partner is pliable, can be changed after marriage
Pre-marital/ pre-commitment counselling explores the reasons why couples have decided to commit to a permanent relationship and the depth of knowledge that they share about each other’s ambitions, hopes and fears. It asks whether they have discussed relevant topics that will affect their future together, such as:
- Children – when, how many, who will be the primary carer
- Finances – managed jointly or to be kept separate
- Saving for a home and /or holidays
- Dealing with conflict – how does each family of origin ‘do’ conflict
- Career plans for both partners
- Religious/spiritual beliefs
- Education for selves and children
- Common values in behaviour, lifestyles
- Common interests and hobbies
- Political views
- Common goals, both short and long term
- Sexual compatibility
- How to deal with the in-laws, previous partners or children from previous relationships
Marriage is something that has to be constantly worked at to stay fresh, healthy and alive. Being ‘in love’, is not enough if you don’t also relate to and respect each other. Marriage is also dynamic – forever changing in ways that could be positive or negative. Pre-commitment counselling can help couples to understand the base for a strong relationship and the inevitable stages that it will go through as it matures.
Here’s a pre-relationship quiz which might be interesting to you.