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Bridal Club Magazine

Pre-Marriage Counselling - Why Fix It If It's Not Broken?

You're in love, you can't wait to spend the rest of your lives together - so why would you want to see a counsellor? Almost a third of couples undergo some kind of pre-marriage counselling. When it comes to building effective communication skills that will last a life time, you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

To be and stay in love is an ongoing process.
Think of it like a finely manicured lawn. It needs the right amount of water, fertiliser and a lawnmower that cuts at just the right height - no more, no less. Regular maintenance is the key to a luscious lawn... you get the drift. With divorce such a common factor in today's society, there are fewer positive role models to follow. So it makes sense to strengthen your chances of staying together when you learn more effective skills in communicating.

Somehow, learning to communicate prior to marriage is easier than after you walk down the aisle. Unspoken expectations that you have for each other have been brewing, coming from weird and wonderful illusions of childhood about what married life should be like. Pre-marriage is a time when you are both most likely to tackle pending issues rather than when you are in the midst of a crisis. Learning to talk through any differences now will help you to form good habits that will carry you through the years to come.

There are several ways to tackle this sticky subject. You might decide to visit a psychologist or marriage and family therapist to thrash out issues that plague you. But you may not even have to go that far: Most churches require engaged couples to participate in counselling sessions before they'll let you take your vows.

A good counsellor will encourage you both to talk about subjects you haven't examined very thoroughly. Through the process of answering "test questions," you'll have the opportunity of simulating a lifetime of events before your life together begins. When a future crisis arises and believe me, they do - you'll both be confident, having a better sense of how and why you both might react.

Counsellors can give you insights to how the other thinks in a constructive way, always confirming what you already know about each other as well as bringing new things to your attention. In some cases, it may help bring things to light - always a terrifying prospect, that to marry may be a mistake for you in the long run.

What can you expect to come up in marriage counselling? Religion, children, finances, habits, and family issues, among other things. And even if you generally communicate well, there may be specific issues you'd like some help working through already. In-laws are a common starting point. One of you may be closer to your parents than the other would like, preferring a more autonomous and spontaneous relationship free from surprise visits at 8am on a Sunday morning!

Where do you go for marriage counselling? If your marriage celebrant/minister does not offer the service, ask them to put you in touch with good counsellor near you. If you're uncomfortable about professional therapy or unable to afford it, contact local community centres, hospital or talk to your family doctor whether they offer marriage-building workshops.

Look at marriage realistically -- it's not all wine and roses. People shouldn't just promise to be together no matter what. They should promise to work through problems, because even the best marriages will encounter problems and communication will be what helps you overcome them. If you have the slightest hesitation in talking through things that make you uncomfortable -- and we mean really talking -- it's smart to learn how to do it now before you take that matrimonial plunge.

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