One of the most exciting parts about getting engaged was the idea of starting pre-marital counseling. (I know. Weird, right?)
Tyler and I had always had open and honest communication in our relationship. In fact, on our third date – we spent an entire night sharing our most embarrassing moments… and we didn’t hold back. Like at all. We always joke about how that date set the tone for our relationship – not holding back in sharing the good, the bad and the ugly – so when we talked about getting engaged, we were both onboard with the idea of pre-marital counseling.
To some of our friends, the concept was normal – but to others, it came as a bit of a shock. The idea of “couples counseling” made them think there was some underlying issue that Tyler and I wanted to deal with before we got married – but the truth was, we just wanted to learn ways we could effectively deal with them when they came up.
And on the other side of counseling, here’s what we’re still excited about it and glad we committed to going through it…
1. Counseling gives you the opportunity to learn about yourself.
Because pre-marital counseling is – in and of itself – counseling, there is an inherent reflective nature throughout the entire process. The topics you cover (i.e., family of origin, marital expectations, conflict resolution styles, etc.) reveal a lot about yourself that you may or may not have been clued in on before. I learned a lot about myself; my strengths and my weaknesses, through our pre-marital sessions and even chose to continue my own counseling journey after our couple’s sessions ended. Being able to learn about yourself in light of the sanctifying covenant of marriage is one of the best benefits of pre-marital counseling!
2. Counseling confronts you both with the questions nobody wants to ask.
Despite Tyler and I having a “hold nothing back” mentality in our season of dating, there were still a ton of questions left unasked simply because we didn’t even think to ask them. In our pre-marital sessions, we dove in the weeds on some broader topics we covered on our own. For example, although we talked about finances and our feelings on debt and saving, we never hashed out the, “How much money do you expect to spend on your respective families at Christmas?” We didn’t even know people thought about these types of things! To us, the question seemed so specific and so detailed – but on this side of marriage, we’ve seen the benefit of having clear expectations spelled out.
3. Counseling gives you a little preview of what it’s like to face things as “one.”
In pre-marital counseling, Tyler and I had to answer questions together. In our discussions with the counselor, we were asked questions as a couple and expected to (eventually) answer as a couple. It’s not that our individual responses didn’t matter, it’s just that the point was to learn how to navigate these sort of questions as a team. Looking back, this was our first glimpse of what it would be like to actually be married – a foretaste of becoming one.
What are your (and your fiancé’s) thoughts on pre-marital counseling? Is it something you’ve considered?
All images courtesy of Katherine Dalton Photography