Every month the associates at Aspire Too will answer your questions in our “Ask the Counsellors Feature“. Please submit your questions confidentially to firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: My boyfriend of one year and I recently got engaged and are planning to get married next summer. Some friends have told us that we should get premarital counselling before the wedding. Our relationship is really good and I don’t think we need counselling. I’ve always thought counselling is for couples who fight all the time. Why are people saying we need premarital counselling?
Karen (not her real name)
A: Congrats on your engagement! This is no doubt a very exciting time for you and your new fiancé. Premarital counselling is a process that many happy couples undertake before the big wedding day. In some instances, premarital counselling is required before getting married in a church; some churches and other organizations provide a marriage preparation course for couples, and other people access premarital counselling through private counselling with a therapist. The reason premarital counselling is recommended is to give couples an opportunity to have important discussions prior to committing to each other long term. Premarital counselling is both a preventative and proactive approach for assisting couples in having long lasting, healthy, happy marriages.
Premarital counselling is often a structured process that ensures couples discuss important things they will confront in the course of their relationship. For example, premarital counselling allows couples to discuss finances (individual or joint bank accounts? How are bills paid? Do you have a savings and/or retirement plan?), division of labour in the household (who takes out the garbage? Who cleans the toilet?), family planning (will you have children? How many? What are your parenting styles and philosophies?), conflict and communication styles (how to communicate during hard times, learning to “fight fair”), discussions regarding family relationships and in-laws (where do we spend the holidays?), personal wishes in case of accident or death (will you donate your organs? What are your funeral wishes?), among other relevant topics. Often, premarital counselling can be achieved with as little as a few sessions with a therapist.
Many couples in the earlier stages of relationships, most notably the romantic stage, fail to have these important conversations prior to getting married. As you can imagine, not having these discussions prior to the wedding can cause more conflict and difficulty down the road. It is actually quite beneficial for couples to have these conversations while they are happy and communicating well, as they are better equipped to negotiate and discuss difficult and important aspects of sharing their life with another person. Couples who engage in premarital counselling have an increased chance at a successful long term relationship.
If you would like to access premarital counselling, please contact us and we’ll arrange an appointment with one of our skilled therapists.
Elizabeth Smith, BA, BSW, RSW
Director of Clinical Services / Counsellor