Marriage preparation, also known as premarital counseling, provides a way for couples to prepare for their new lives together.
Types of Marriage Preparation
One of the most common places for marriage prep classes is through the church or religious institution where you will be getting married. Community centers and private companies may also offer classes for engaged couples. You can find seminars, workshops, and retreats for couples planning marriage. Books and workbooks, such as Norman Wright's Before You Say 'I Do:' A Marriage Preparation Guide for Couples and the Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook by Jerry Hardin and Diane Sloan, can be valuable tools to prepare for marriage as well.
Getting married is a major commitment and usually takes a lot of adjustment. Being prepared mentally, emotionally and spiritually for your new life together can help form a solid base for your impending marriage. Communication and conflict resolution are also topics included in most marriage prep programs.
- While there's no substitute for the process of really getting to know your spouse, premarital counseling and other marriage preparation usually brings up major life issues that you and fiancée may not have discussed. In talking about long-term goals, finances, family, and other topics, you may find out things about your bride or groom-to-be that you didn't know before.
- Additionally, discussing these issues also allows a couple to assess their compatibility. Knowing the areas in which you have different viewpoints can prevent future conflict. A couple can begin thinking about ways to compromise or resolve areas where they aren't compatible before getting married. Finding ways to work around opposing viewpoints can help strengthen the relationship.
The following are issues typically explored in premarital coinseling or other marriage preparation programs:
If a couple has differing religious beliefs, it is important to establish how this will work in their marriage. Even if a couple belongs to the same religion, they may have differing beliefs in certain areas. Can each accept that the other has different beliefs? If the couple is planning on having children, will they be raised with both beliefs?
It's normal to have some fear, doubt, or insecurity about an impending marriage. Premarital counseling can help assuage these feelings and assure you are both ready for the emotional commitment of marriage. It's important to be honest with yourself about your emotional readiness.
Views on Children
It's obviously important to find out your soon-to-be partner's views on having children. Timing is a related issue -- some people want to have children right away, some want to wait until they are married for a few years. If you both agree that you want to raise a family, you may want to discuss views on parenting and discipline.
Talking about your plans for the future, your ambitions, and your long-term goals can be a fun as well as beneficial part of marriage preparation. You'll have a head start on supporting and encouraging one another for your personal goals as well as discussing mutual goals for the future.
Money is one of the major causes of disputes in marriage. Deciding how you will handle the finances is a good subject to approach before your marriage. Will you have joint or separate bank accounts? Will one person pay all the bills, or will you handle them together? What about major purchases or investments? Some couples establish certain financial 'rules,' such as discussing any non-household or bill-related expenditure over fifty dollars with the other spouse before making the purchase.
Although many couples get to know one another's families long before the proposal, some issues may not have surfaced. Knowing about family histories of disease, mental illness, or abuse, although painful, is important to discuss for both the strength of your relationship as well as in making other decisions, such as having children.
Attitudes and Personality Types
Knowledge of your own and your impending spouse's temperament and personality type can be very valuable in terms of daily interaction and conflict resolution. An energetic, high-strung person, for example, may have a short temper. If you are aware of one another's natural temperaments you will be better prepared to handle problems in your marriage.
Beginning the Journey
While there's no foolproof way to plan for all the ups and downs you will face as a couple, marriage preparation can certainly give you an edge in establishing a healthy and happy union. Planning and preparing for you marriage is just the beginning of the journey to getting to know your spouse -- you will both grow and change along the way.