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Four Issues to Talk About in Premarital Therapy

People in this country are waiting longer than ever before to get married.  Since living together and potentially having children without being married is socially acceptable in most parts of the country now, some people are seeing very little reason to married at all.

Premarital Therapy Strengthens Communication

When people are planning to get married, particularly younger people, it may be a good idea for them to take part in premarital therapy.  It can be an incredibly helpful tool in getting couples to talk through many of the issues that they will encounter during marriage.  Talking through some of these issues in premarital therapy can help couples be able to deal better when the situation arises.

Issue #1 Life Long Goals

You are both adults.  That means that you have probably made some plans with your future.  These plans can include things about careers, family, things you would like to do, or places you would like to go.  This is the time for sharing some of those goals to find out if they are things that you can be doing together, things that you will need to do separately, or things that neither one of you can live with.  If the goals of one member of the couple are to settle down, have a family, buy a house etc. and the goals of the other member of the couple are to spend his or her life traveling all the time and do not including a family then you have something to discuss.  These differences do not mean that one or the other of you has to completely give up on a dream, and they do not mean that you cannot be together, but having these conversations now may save you some heartache later on.

Issue #2 Mutual Expectations

The questions to address here are usually things like ‘What kind of emotional support do you expect during the good times and during the bad times?’ or ‘Do you have some specific needs in order to be happy?’.  This is the time to talk about anything that you expect from your partner.  Your expectations could be in relationship to small things like that you think the dishes should be done right after dinner, or they could be in relationship to big things like career opportunities and child care obligations.  You may be expecting something from your partner that he or she has no idea about.  This is the time to discuss those issues.

Issue #3 Money Management

Money is the #1 reason why couples fight.  Making a handful of decisions about how money will be managed and having an honest conversation about it now may help some in the future.  You will need to make decisions about whether you will have joint bank accounts or separate, how you will decide on bigger purchases like a car or a house, who will be paying the bills and keeping an eye on your financial health, or what will happen when one of you is making more money than the other.  If you are planning to have children, you will need to discuss how you plan on providing for their futures and how the family’s money will work if one of you is going to be staying home with that child.  You may also want to discuss making plans for saving money or contributing to a retirement accounts, college funds, or vacation funds.  While these questions may not seem important now, they will be important in the future.

Issue #4 Conflict Management

All marriages have a certain amount of conflict.  It is completely normal for you to fight sometimes.  But you may want to come up with a mutually agreed upon way to discuss these conflicts before you really start to have them.  You will need to talk about what feels the most comfortable for you when your partner is upset, and also what you can do that will make your partner more comfortable.  You may want to come up with a way to present things that are bothering you that is not confrontational or judgmental but rather productive and approached in the interest of solving the problem rather than placing blame.

All of these issues are things that can be discussed during premarital therapy.  Every issue that couples can work out and set expectations for before they get married will help avoid some of the typical conflicts that can arise throughout a lifetime together.

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