Many people associate couples therapy with divorce rather than with marriage. This is unfortunately because far too many couples wait too long before seeking help for their relationship. Once they finally reach out, there is an overwhelming amount of work that must be done to save the relationship and one or both partners may not be willing to do this work.
What many people don’t realize is that one of the best times to attend couples therapy with a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) is just before marriage. Premarital counseling offers many benefits to the couples that attend. Here are seven reasons to attend couple’s therapy before marriage:
To Learn How to Fight Constructively
Once you are married, you will inevitably fight with your spouse. Learning how to fight constructively is important to avoid destroying the relationship. It is also important to learn conflict resolution strategies to solve problems quicker and prevent them from escalating.
To Address Any Anxieties About Marriage
It is normal to feel nervous prior to getting married. However, some people may have specific anxieties that can cause them to lash out at their partner. It is important to discuss these honestly in a safe space so that they can be resolved ahead of time.
To Leave Old Problems Out of the Marriage
Since no relationship is perfect, there may be old problems that affect the relationship. Reconciling these allows the couple to move forward and focus on their future together, rather than the problems of the past.
To Establish Expectations
Couples therapy is a great place to discuss what you expect of each other as husband and wife. Even if you have been dating for awhile, the dynamics of your relationship can change with marriage and it is important to both know what the expectations are. Things like finances, kids, living situation, and work life balance are examples of things to discuss in terms of expectations.
To Learn or Improve Communication Skills
There are very few people who can communicate well, especially when they are upset. Being able to communicate with your spouse is essential to having a strong bond and relationship. Understanding how each other communicates and learning how to communicate properly with each other will allow you to tackle a variety of challenges in the future.
To Determine Strengths and Weaknesses of the Relationship
Through couples therapy, it will become evident what is strong about the relationship, as well as what needs work in the relationship. Identifying both strengths and weaknesses early on can help couples to understand what works well for their relationship and what they both need to work on moving forward.
To Get an Outside Perspective
Couples therapy also allows for an outside and professional perspective on your relationship. Often times, if you are too close to the situation, there are things that you can miss. Marriage counselors or marriage therapists can help you see the things you missed and can even offer couples different perspectives on their concerns in order to help them overcome or solve problems.
Overall, attending couples therapy prior to marriage is highly beneficial for couples. Couples therapy helps both people in the relationship to improve individually and as a couple. No relationship is perfect. Realizing this and taking steps to work on it will lead to a happier marriage and decrease the chances of divorce. For more information, see “How Marriage Counseling Can Improve a Relationship”.
Dr. Miller is trained in Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is also trained in Anesthesia and Pain Management. Because of her broad experience, Dr. Miller is uniquely qualified to treat psychological trauma, depression and anxiety that can occur as a result of injury or disability. For more information, schedule a consultation at NJ Family Psychiatry & Therapy.