Recently I attended a baby shower, and among the silly games and exclamations of "oh isn't that just adorable" there was the inevitable discussion of what the couple was doing to prepare, including which preparation classes the couple had taken. I started to wonder, why is it that we expect new parents to take classes and read countless books to prepare for the newest change in their lives and relationships, but we do not have such expectations when a couple is preparing for another huge change in their relationship: marriage? Why isn't marriage prep more common for newly engaged couples?
The benefits of marriage preparation are substantial; a study published in 2006 by Scott Stanley, P.R. Amato, and Howard Markham out of the University of Denver showed that couples who participated in pre marriage counseling had a 30% lower divorce rate. Whenever possible we prepare for the big changes in our lives, so it's worth asking, what are the benefits of pre marriage counseling?
Skill based marriage education provided in pre marriage counseling gives couples the tools they need to navigate the ups and downs of their relationship. Marriage is, after all, one of the deepest and most fulfilling partnerships one has in life. In order for this partnership to function on a daily basis, as well as the long term, couples need skills to navigate the ins and outs of sharing a life together.
2) SHARED VALUES
Pre marriage counseling gives couples a chance to sort through underlying value differences that may not become part of the discussion until children, in-laws and other big life decisions come to pass. Early stages of relationships are often filled with excitement and romance, potentially keeping couples from delving into what can be more difficult discussions around spirituality, raising children, blended family challenges and lifestyle choices. Knowing your values align will avoid any potential surprises down the line.
3) MUTUAL EXPECTATIONS
Couples often think they know their chosen partner well. That is until bigger questions around roles within the household, child rearing, and bread winning responsibility lead to the potential for a disconnect. That isn't to say that these issues all need to be on paper before the vows, yet the more you understand each partners' vision for the future the easier it will be to navigate those decisions later on.
4) STRONGER BOND
Couples who participate in pre marital counseling have an opportunity to create a stronger bond as they develop new communication skills. Couples who are able to talk openly about feelings, thoughts, ideas and expectations often experience a more intimate and trusting bond.
5) AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION
The best time to learn skills and develop positive habits is when you feel good. Couples often seek help after periods of dissatisfaction and after a build-up of negative feelings. It can feel like an uphill battle and while it is absolutely never too late, why not get a head start with a solid footing? Preventing painful arguments through strong skills and collaboration is the key to success and a calm climate for your marriage to grow in.
Couples spend a great deal of time, energy, and money planning and executing their dream weddings. Shouldn't some effort be put towards ensuring a long lasting and fulfilling union? Pre marriage counseling doesn't have to be expensive or time consuming, online alternatives like poweroftwomarriage.com offer an easy way for couples to start working on the skills and tools today that will carry them through a long a loving marriage!