Let’s take a fresh look at premarital counseling.
You’re looking for something that matches your values, your lifestyle, and your priorities.
You are a smart, savvy couple who knows that even though you are crazy about each other, sailing off into the sunset means you’ll eventually hit some rough seas together.
Why not make sure you’ve got life preservers on board before setting out?
Seriously though, preparing for your marriage actually does makes a difference. Studies show that couples who had premarital counseling reported higher levels of marital satisfaction and were 30 percent less likely to divorce in the first five years of marriage. I can tell you right now three amazing reasons to spend some time really planning for your marriage and exploring your relationship prior to getting married.
Three Amazing Reasons to Do Premarital Counseling:
You'll learn a ton. You won't just learn about your relationship, you'll also learn how to do things in your relationship that will transform your interactions and make rough times feel more like opportunities for growth and connection. You’ll learn how, where, why and when to have difficult, awkward, open and honest conversations with each other. You’ll learn pay attention when you want to bring something up...and then actually feel safe enough to do it. And you'll learn to do it in a way that your partner can hear and respond to positively. In turn, you’ll learn how to respond (and how not to respond) when your partner initiates a difficult conversation with you. You’ll learn what to do if and when these conversations go awry. And you’ll learn some signs that it’s time to have one of these conversations.
You'll get to know your third roommate. After marriage, it's not just you and your sweetie any more. You have a relationship to maintain, grow, feed and care for on a regular basis. Couples counseling helps you establish, right of the bat, that as a couple you are committed to paying attention to and taking care of your relationship. You’ll want to start out your marriage knowing exactly what it takes to keep your relationship happy. You'll learn it's bad habits, it's annoying quirks, as well as all of its best qualities. You'll understanding how to make maintaining your relationship a priority, alongside of taking care of each other..
You'll have a map. I don't believe it's helpful to try to script out too much of your relationship in advance, or make long lists of rules and guidelines no matter how well intentioned. Your marriage, is and should be somewhat of an adventure. You want to let it surprise you, grow in unpredictable ways, and evolve as you change and grow as individuals. However, even the most intrepid explorers have some idea of the trouble they might get into along their way. They have a basic plan in their mind, or a map to refer to, or a plan of action when things get hairy (and they do expect things to go wrong). So instead of it feeling like, “What the heck! I didn’t expect this!” you’re like, “Oh yeah, i knew this would probably happen at some point, now let’s get down to fixing it.” Premarital counseling gives you just enough of a map so that you don't freak out when issues arise. It will help you be aware of your relationship strengths as well as some of its challenges. And you'll have a plan for how handle things when you hit one of your sticky spots. Don't worry, your life can still be an unpredictable adventure if that is what you’d like it to be. But you'll gain confidence that you've done the work to make the adventure an ultimate success.
What you won't get from premarital counseling with Chappell:
- My religious or spiritual views. I provide secular counseling from a research based perspective rather than a religious framework. I've studied attachment, neurobiology, and relationships and I draw my perspective from those fields. If religion and/or spirituality is important to you, then it will absolutely be a part of our exploration of your relationship, values and goals. I will not bring my own religious or spiritual views into our work together.
- My judgment. I do not hold a perspective that there is one right way to do a relationship. I strongly believe that healthy relationships can look about a million different ways. I will empower you to dig in and find what works best for you in your relationship, rather than tell you how your relationship should be done. My job will be to observe your dynamic, listen to your concerns, challenge you in areas where there is avoidance, and help you figure out how to negotiate areas where you are unsure or where things aren't working. My stance is non-judgmental, empowering, and curious.
- A guarantee. While I am passionate about premarital counseling and relationship counseling in general, I'll never tell you that premarital counseling will prevent you from having fights or challenges in your marriage. What I will tell you, is that premarital counseling, combined with ongoing engagement in your relationship with curiousity, care, and honesty, will radically change the way you view these arguments and challenges. Instead of feeling like your relationship is threatened when you fight, you will know that you are just doing your relationship dance and you will will have confidence that you can come back into balance with your partner.
- More problems. A common fear about premarital counseling, and couples therapy in general, is that the work will "stir things up" from the past or the therapist will "go looking for, and creating problems, that weren't there." This can certainly happen with an unskilled therapist who feels it is their job to go looking for problems. I see my role very differently. My job is to understand your relationship and help you understand it as well. I believe that couples pick each other for a reason, and that they will spend the rest of their lives together either fighting against their dynamic, or learning from it and growing from the gifts and challenges it has to offer. Each relationship offers up different challenges, but this isn't a weakness, it is an opportunity to push your boundaries within a safe and loving relationship. Lastly, if ever in our work together I offer up an observation or a suggestion that just doesn't sit well with you or serve you, I invite you, in fact I beg of you to throw that observation or suggestion out with the trash. If it doesn't feel right to you, then it probably isn't. I will always be checking in with you along the way to make sure that our work feels like progress and is aligning with what feels true and real for you.
- A to do list. You will not leave premarital counseling feeling like you need to go out and change yourselves or your relationship. You will leave with great confidence about your relationship and your ability to tackle the challenges that will inevitably crop up. You will leave with tools of how to connect deeply with your partner during times of conflict as well as during everyday life. You will leave knowing how to talk about difficult, embarrassing, or charged topics. You will leave feeling a stronger connection and a sense of excitement about launching your married life together.
What you will get from premarital counseling with Chappell:
Three or more hours of face-to-face, personalized counseling. I recommend that premarital couples commit to at least 3 hours of counseling. We'll start out by getting to know each other and discussing your goals for premarital counseling. We’ll dive right into some juicy topics like how you connect, how you fight, how you ask each other for what you need, and how you each feel and behave when you are not getting what you need. We’ll look at the families you each come from and explore the strengths you draw from those experiences as well as any unresolved issues or “hot spots.” We’ll explore your expectations for your married life together and the common conflict issues of money, time, sex, family, and housework. Lastly, we can look at any current issues that are arising in your relationship. These could be related to wedding planning, current stressors, relationships with friends and family, etc. As a bonus (and completely optional), we can work on your wedding ceremony and vows to incorporate some of the insights from our work together and make your wedding an authentic statement about who you are as a couple and what kind of marriage you are forming.
Newlywed Premarital Counseling?
I know that the months before a wedding can be crazy and chaotic. Maybe you meant to do some premarital counseling, but it just never happened or maybe now that the dust has settled from your wedding you have some questions or concerns you'd like to talk over. No worries! As newlyweds most of the same issues and themes can and should be addressed. I'd love to hear from you.
If you are preparing for marriage (or newlywed!) and would like to launch your marriage with intention, integrity, and tools for connection, click below. In our 20 minute free phone consult we can talk about your needs, find out if we are a good fit, and start putting together an ideal plan to take your relationship to the next level.