Are you engaged or in a committed relationship but want to be certain your partner is “the one?”
Have you and your significant considered combining your finances or moving in together and want some help navigating that change?
Or are you and your fiancé just wanting to start your marriage off as strong as possible?
Perhaps you and your partner have been together for years. You feel committed to one another, but you just want to be sure this is the person for you. Maybe you’re nervous about combining finances or you recently moved in together and are having some new conflict. Things can be even more complicated if one of you was divorced in the past or is bringing children into the relationship. Maybe you just want to feel as ready as possible, and you see premarital counseling as the means to prepare.
The bottom line is that you and your partner just want to be sure. You want a roadmap as you face the future. You’d like to identify what problems might come up in the future so you are ready for them. Actually, you’re looking for skills to deal with any future bumps in the road. Most importantly, you want to know how to keep the love alive for years to come.
Even in the strongest relationships, there are some growing pains. Conflict is part of life. Therefore, you and your partner are sure to face some stressful situations. As a couples counselor, I have seen all types of relationships. I understand how to help strong relationships set up a plan for continued success. On the other hand, if you’re already facing stress in your relationship I can help you address conflict in a healthy manner and strengthen your relationship. There are many reasons a couple may consider counseling before marriage.
Reasons Couples Attend Counseling Before Marriage
Couples come to counseling for a variety of reasons. There is no “bad reason” for coming to premarital counseling. In fact, it’s my opinion that every relationship could benefit from pre marriage counseling. Here are some of the most common reasons clients tell me they come to premarital counseling:
- The need to feel reassured this person is “the one.”
- Fear that old relationship patterns will repeat themselves
- Difficulty blending two families
- Growing pains from moving in together
- Stress from planning a wedding
- Unhealthy communication patterns or frequent conflict
- The desire to avoid future conflict
- Wanting to “get on the same page” about expectations for the relationship or marriage
- Review finances
- Discuss parenting expectations
- Plan for the future
- Minimize the chance of future divorce
- One partner struggles with trust and commitment
As an experienced relationship counselor, I believe that every relationship can benefit from pre marriage counseling. Through premarital counseling sessions, you will have the opportunity to discuss things that do not come up in normal conversations. For instance, we may discuss hurtful past experiences, sex, finances, parenting and expectations. A skilled couples counselor can help you navigate all of these issues listed above and more.
What to Expect in Premarital Counseling
The premarital couple counseling process begins with a lengthy relationship assessment. This assessment is designed to identify areas of strength in your relationship as well as areas of potential concern. Essentially, we’re measuring your fit as a couple.
I will then share your results with you. We’ll talk about your relationship’s strengths and then build up the areas of potential conflict. Before these issues crop up and cause problems down the road, you and your partner will have the chance to address them now with help. These parts of your relationship may feel scary to talk about now, but I can help you face them in a healthy way. I have helped countless couples navigate the difficult parts of their relationships.
The 4 Horseman in Relationships
In premarital counseling, I often find it helpful to review the Four Horseman. These are four negative patterns that couples can fall into described by relationship researcher John Gottman. We will discuss the concepts of criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. First, we will discuss when and how these four behaviors show up in your relationship. Then, I will teach you the antidotes to each horseman. By learning about the horseman before marriage, you’ll learn how to prevent these negative relationship patterns from tearing you and your partner apart in the future.
Communication is an important part of any relationship. Through premarital counseling sessions, you and your partner will learn to communicate both on a daily basis as well as when there are moments of conflict. Three important components of communication we will discuss are showing empathy, assertiveness and respect. Through showing empathy toward one another, you’ll begin to feel less defensive, better understood and more connected toward your partner. Then, you’ll learn how to approach your partner about problems that come up in an assertive way that will help you get to the heart of the problem. Lastly, you’ll learn to show respect to one another even when you are discussing an emotional topic where you strongly disagree with one another.
Learn What a Healthy Marriage Looks Like
If you’ve been in or even witnessed an unhealthy marriage in the past, it’s hard to believe it’s actually possible for things to turn out differently. As a marriage counselor, I do believe a healthy relationship is possible. Don’t get me wrong, every marriage has it’s ups and downs. But it is possible to work through the difficult moments and handle conflict in a healthy way. In couples counseling, we’ll talk about your fears and beliefs about marriage and how your past experiences influence these beliefs. We’ll discuss components of a healthy marriage. Then, we’ll talk about what you’d like to be different in a future marriage for yourself. Through premarital counseling, you’ll gain confidence in your ability to enter marriage with hope.
A CBT Approach to Premarital Counseling
At my heart, I’m a Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) therapist. This means that I believe a person’s thoughts, beliefs about the world, and behaviors are all closely tied. When we enter into a relationship with another person, things get a little more complicated and I believe it’s important to help you navigate these differences.
For instance, you and your partner may have grown up in families with very different financial situations. As a result, your core beliefs related to money may be very different. One of you may believe that money is scarce and finances could become an issue at any time. On the other hand, your partner may carry the belief that they’ve worked hard to earn what they have and should be able to enjoy it. They may believe that if a problem with money comes up it can easily be solved by working harder/more. Pre-marriage relationship counseling is a perfect time for us to look at these core beliefs. We will discuss how they impact each partner’s behavior in the relationship. And we’ll identify a common way of approaching and communicating about these issues.
What if it doesn’t work out?
First of all, it’s important to know that as a couples therapist, I am on the side of your relationship. In our counseling sessions there are three entities: you, your partner and your relationship. I am not here to take sides with either partner. Rather, it is my job to be on the side of your relationship. My goal is to help strengthen and improve your relationship as a whole.
However, if you decide that you are in fact not compatible and need to end your relationship, I can help you navigate that situation as well. In these situations, relationship counseling for couples begins to focus on how you can end your relationship amicably. How can you go about this in a way that causes the least pain for each partner?
Common Benefits of Premarital Counseling
Just as the reasons you come into counseling may be different from another couple, your goals for premarital counseling may be different as well. However, some of the common benefits couples report experiencing in their relationships after pre marriage counseling include:
- Increase confidence in your relationship
- More trust
- Better Communication
- Increased intimacy
- Feeling more connected to your partner
- Both partners feel heard and respected
- A plan for handling future conflict
- More understanding of your partner
STARTING QUALITY PRE MARRIAGE COUNSELING IN CINCINNATI, OH IS EASY:
- Get in touch to set up your first appointment.
- Get connected with a skilled relationship counselor who you can trust with helping navigate your relationship and future marriage.
- Begin building better communication and confidence in your relationship, work through any premarital concerns either of you may have and start marriage off strong!
Other Services Dr. Timothy Barron Offers
In addition to relationship counseling or pre marriage counseling, as a caring relationship counselor, Timothy Barron LPCC-S provides marriage & couples counseling, counseling for infidelity & affair recovery, counseling for college students, career counseling, anxiety treatment and depression counseling at his Cincinnati, OH based counseling practice. He also provides mental health resources and tips on his blog, in order to help better serve the mental health needs of those living in the area. Please feel free to Contact us if you have questions or if you would like to schedule an appointment today!