Marriage is a big step, and yet not one Americans seem to take seriously: around 50% of all U.S. marriages end in divorce. While your relationship may look and feel perfect as it exists right now, a commitment to marriage is a commitment to the future; it simply cannot be made without considering the problems you may come across, or the changes you may go through, or the decisions you may have to make. Premarital counseling is the easiest and most effective way to take a look at your lives together and where they may lead.
“Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) know to look into each person’s beliefs and values concerning money, child-raising, spirituality, individuality, partnership, marriage in general, and more,” says Becky Whetstone, Ph.D., LMFT. “If we see an emotionally immature or incompatible couple heading for a marital train wreck, we’ll tell them.”
There are four main areas to focus on when it comes to considering a lifelong relationship: money, religion, kids, and communication. Financial distress is one of the biggest causes of divorce, so it’s important that both parties display their debt and credit score with nothing withheld. Marriage counselors can help ensure that there is no blame or judgment involved in the process, allowing the focus to be on learning and understanding each other’s current financial status to decide if a joint venture would be wise.
When it comes to faith, the more similar your views are, the more likely you’ll be to stay together. Commonalities often draw people together in the first place, so the more you agree on hard topics, the less arguing will occur. However, this doesn’t mean that those of opposing religions or beliefs can’t experience long and happy marriages; you’ll just need to be prepared for any major differences that may arise along the way (yet another thing your counselor can assist with).
The age-old question: do you want kids? Too often, people don’t discuss the details of this major aspect until after the knot has been tied. Though many more people are opting out of raising children these days, the options are exponential if the answer is “yes” — how many, when will we try, and the considerations of how you’d like to raise them are crucial.
Communication is absolutely necessary if a marriage is going to make it through the good times and the bad; it can help you manage your fear over money problems, your anger over disagreements, and your concern over children, all at once. Marriage therapists — in fact, all therapists — truly excel when it comes to teaching communication skills.
Unsurprisingly, over 98% of surveyed couples who experienced couple’s therapy reported that they received good or excellent help, and over 97% of those surveyed said they got the help they needed. Though exploring your options and searching for therapists may seem daunting or make you feel like your relationship is weak, it is one of the best decisions you and your future spouse can make, and together.