Brandon and I didn’t attend any kind of couples counseling before we were married. In fact, we were only engaged for two days before we tied the knot (true story). We did consider it and we knew that it is often very highly recommended but we eventually opted not to do it. The biggest reason was because our relationship was long-distance and digital for almost a year before we married. If you’ve ever been in a long-distance relationship you know that there really isn’t much you can do except for talk. We had talked about everything we could think of, at least two dozen times, before we were able to be together in person again. It’s because of that we decided against counseling for ourselves.
Most of the time, if anyone asks, I highly recommend couples counseling before marriage. There’s this perception out there that counseling is only necessary if there is a problem, but that’s not true. Counseling is great for bringing couples together on neutral ground to discuss those hard-to-talk-about issues like money, starting a family, career objectives, etc. Believe it or not, I actually know couples that never discussed whether or not they would have (or adopt) children until after they were already married. That just seems crazy to me. Who gets married before discussing children? To me, that just kind of sounds like a major topic. That’d be a deal-breaker to me. You have to at least be close to being on the same page.
A counselor helps you broach those tough topics so that you know where one another stands on issues before getting married. Whether you decide to go to couple’s counseling before marriage or not, I highly recommend that you discuss these topics together:
Personal and Life Goals
- What are your top personal goals?
- What you do you value and what do you want to accomplish with your life?
- Is your partner fully supportive of those goals?
- If your goals conflict, how do you decide which to pursue?
- What do you expect from the marital partnership?
- What is your perspective on marital roles?
- How do you feel about balancing alone time, friend time, and couple time?
- How do you divide household chores?
- Do you plan on having children?
- When do you want to have them?
- If you face fertility issues would you pursue fertility treatment or adoption?
- How many children to you want to have?
- Would you home-school or enroll in public or private school?
- What are your views on discipline?
- How do you handle money?
- Are you a spender or a saver?
- Will you have separate checking accounts or a joint account?
- What are your financial goals?
- Are you expected to contribute equally to the household?
- How will this change once you have children?
- What are your expectations for your spouse’s involvement with your parents, siblings, and extended family members?
- What are your holiday plans? Will you host or travel? How do you decide which family to spend the holidays with?
- Is it ok to confide the details of your marriage with family members? If yes, what are the limits and boundaries?
- Would an aging parent ever live with you? Under what conditions?
- What are your expectations for intimacy? How often per week / per month?
- What are your sexual preferences and how will you resolve any differences?
- Is there anything sexual that is considered an off-limits topic or act?
Disagreements and Arguments
- How do you express your anger?
- What are your expectations for how your partner will handle situations and express their anger?
- What makes you uncomfortable during heated discussions or arguments?
- How do you feel about taking time-outs during arguments to calm down and relax? How long can these last?
Religion and Spirituality
- What is your religion or spiritual belief? What does your spirituality mean to you?
- How often do you participate in worship or religious events?
- What is the expectation of your partner’s involvement in your spiritual life?
- Will you hold any worship, devotion, or bible studies as a family? Who will lead these events?
- Will your children be baptized (christened, etc?) or attend any religious services/?
- What is your stance on extramarital affairs or relationships? Do you agree on topics such as open marriages and swinging? Do you both commit to monogamy?
- What constitutes an affair? Are ’emotional affairs’ equal in severity to sexual affairs?
- Is flirting with someone of the opposite sex ok? What boundaries do you set?
- Do you agree about what information about your relationship is acceptable to share with another person? What is the expectation of privacy?
Those are all topics and questions my husband and I discussed while we were long distance for a year. We would spend hours upon hours online or the phone discussing the most minute details of our thoughts and feelings about our lives and our futures. By the time we were together again it felt like we shared a soul.
If we hadn’t had that time together, I would have absolutely insisted on couples counseling.
What are your thoughts on premarital couples counseling? Did you do it? If not, why not? Tweet me @ashleyfromhp or share your thoughts below.