As my life continues to move forward (whether I want it to or not), I find myself thinking a lot about my future: as a woman, a business owner, a wife (no I’m not engaged…yet!), or a mother (no I’m not pregnant…yet!). Being in my early 30s and being in my line of work, I’m constantly seeing lots of friends and clients taking the big “next steps” in life, so growing up is heavy on my mind.
I spend a lot of time watching couples and friends interact, seeing how they complement each other and watching their love grow, develop and thrive. Having parents who are divorced, but dating someone whose parents have been married for 30 years, I often contemplate what it takes to make a relationship work (I would also like to mention that all my clients to date are still together… I like to take credit for that but really it’s because they all hecka love each other and are willing to put in the effort to make it work!). With all this heavy love-related information floating around in my head, I’ve begun talking to family therapists and mediators to find out what kinds of issues are most common in the separations/divorces they deal with, and to get their insight on how most of it could be avoided.
This brings me to Mandi, who wrote our guest feature today. Mandi is a Marriage & Family Therapist (you can read more about here at the end of the blog), and she notes the importance of getting some counseling before your big day (or after, if that’s the way it worked out), to discuss the issues that can and most likely will come up in the course of a lifetime together. Let’s be honest people, forever is a long ass time: most of us won’t have friendships as long as our relationship, so it’s important understand how to make love last beyond the early years (often full of play and party) into the grown-up chapters of life dealing with money, children, in-laws, sex (or the lack thereof), things you have in common, and the things you can’t stand! Thanks to Mandi for her insights and wisdom.
Because let’s face it…we all want our own version of “Happy Ever After.”
Why Premarital Counseling is Beneficial for All Couples
by Mandi Armond
Getting engaged is one of the most exciting times in a couple’s life together. Unfortunately, the engagement period is often consumed by wedding planning and not necessarily preparation for what’s to come afterwards, marriage. In a country where the divorce rate can reach up to 50%, it’s surprising that more couples do not invest the time and effort into preparing their marriages for success. Premarital counseling is designed to help couples work through current issues, plan for how to navigate future problems, and strengthen their relationships. The process is often described as fun and insightful and can, according to some studies, lower the possibility of divorce by 30%.
Premarital counseling is generally conducted by a licensed therapist or member of the clergy. Depending on the specific program, it’s likely that couples will complete discussions, exercises, and thoughtful practice of important relationship skills. Programs such as PREPARE/ENRICH also offer couples a detailed assessment of the strengths and opportunities for growth in their relationship. Specific topics that are likely to be addressed include communication, conflict resolution, finances, relationship roles, intimacy, and personality differences. Regardless of what you focus on in session, it’s a great way for couples to affirm to each other that the quality and strength of their marriage is a priority.
No matter your religious affiliation, length of time together, sexual orientation, age, or relationship strength, premarital counseling can be beneficial. For couples that already have a strong foundation it can reinforce good habits and deepen their bond. For couples that need more assistance, it can be a great venue to get expert guidance on how to effectively negotiate and overcome issues. When couples are on the fence about whether it’s necessary, I always invite them to think of premarital counseling as preventive care for marriages. If you put in the work now, you’ll enjoy a healthier, more fulfilling marriage later.
About the Guest Blogger:
Mandi Armond is a Marriage & Family Therapist Intern that practices within the non-profit agency, Grateful Heart Holistic Therapy in San Francisco, CA. She specializes in premarital counseling using the #1 premarital assessment and program, PREPARE/ENRICH. Mandi offers traditional one-on-two premarital counseling, as well as one-day workshops for engaged couples. For more information, please visit her website, www.mandiarmond.com.