Would you attempt to fly a Boeing 747 airplane without receiving the proper education and instruction?
Of course not! It would be a disaster – if you could even get the plane moving.
So why would we approach marriage any differently? After all, this will be your longest journey in life.
With the staggering divorce rate, it’s easy to see that couples aren’t prepared for the challenges that marriage brings. They lack the skills and mindset for what makes a successful and happy marriage work. In short, they don’t have the proper instruction.
Too many couples are told divorce is their only option, while I believe that by working together, couples can overcome any challenge thrown their way to achieve better connection and understanding.
Couples need to open their eyes to the truth: they are thinking and behaving in ways that are detrimental to a mutually satisfying relationship. Once couples realize they can unlearn their old, destructive habits and learn better, more effective habits, they feel renewed, like they are experiencing their “second marriage with one spouse.”
Pre-marital counseling doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with a relationship. On the contrary, it means that a couple is dedicated to intentionally making their marriage work. With pre-marital counseling, couples can learn about the common pitfalls that arise in a marriage before they actually happen – often avoiding them altogether. Additionally, we can identify possible future challenges, pinpoint the relationship strengths and weaknesses, and highlight areas where a couple can grow – for the ultimate purpose of building a solid marriage foundation.
Some important topics to discuss before marriage are:
Compatibility. Focus on really getting to know each other by discussing individual needs, personality differences, hobbies, childhood, and so on, and why they are significant to the marriage.
Acceptance. When you marry someone, you are also marrying a set of problems unique to that individual. By learning to accept what you cannot change, a marriage can thrive.
Commitment. In marriage, conflicts are inevitable. But bailing out at the slightest inconvenience is not an option. Accepting challenges is the catalyst for growing and deepening a relationship by mutually overcoming issues and remaining committed through and through.
Crisis. As with conflict, crises are bound to pop up. Discuss how to deal with stressful situations so they don’t negatively impact your marriage.
Communication. Communication is essential to every good marriage. Couples should learn how and when to speak, how to listen, how to compromise, and how to effectively communicate with their partner.
Religious Values. It’s necessary to know how to handle religious differences and find common ground, especially when planning to have and raise children.
Intimacy. Couples should be able to openly communicate about their intimate needs.
Responsibility. What is your responsibility as a husband or wife? Couples can discuss what they expect each other to be responsible for and how to deal with things if the basic roles are ever reversed.
Finances. Financial issues can break a marriage. Learning to deal with financial differences and understanding the core, underlying cause of financial conflict gives couples an advantage.
External factors. When you marry someone, you also marry their family, career, friends, and hobbies, but these external factors shouldn’t have to turn into marital stressors.
Instead of going into a marriage blind, couples should arm themselves with the necessary tools to see their relationship in a clearer light. It is better for couples to be prepared to deal with everything that comes with a marriage – the bad, the good, the difficult, the easy, the frustrating, and the wonderful.
Written by: Sara Freed