Growing up, I always wanted to be older than I was. When I was 5, I wanted to be 10 because it was an important number. When I was 10, I wanted to be 13 and a teenager (who could play “teen” rated video games). At 13, I wanted to be 16 so I could drive. At 16, I wanted to be 18 so (I figured) no one could tell me what to do anymore. Skipping ahead a few steps, I’m in my 30’s and long to be done paying student loans.
We hope that, “once [X] happens, everything will be better.” The reality is often disappointing.
Engagement Season (Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day) is over. For many couples, the big moment finally happened this year, and the photos/videos have been widely shared across all platforms. But soon, phone notifications transition from favorites on Instagram to email alerts from venues and florists and caterers. Over the coming months, stress sets in, and eventually, a feeling will arrive that “Once the wedding is over, everything will be better.” Maybe. But how do you know?
When the wedding is over, some things will be different.
Saying, “I do,” is truly a cause for celebration. But the ceremony is only the beginning, not the high-point, of a happy and lasting marriage. You will not be physically transformed on your wedding day, and your current problems will not all melt away. Instead, you will have committed publicly to love and support one another, for better or worse, through the wild journey of life.
After the dress is preserved and tuxes are returned, you will find yourself different but the same. The rings are a symbol, not a power source. Marriage is an ever-evolving process of growth and self-discovery. It is hard work, demanding both vulnerability and forgiveness. You will soon discover that love is much more than a feeling, and true love is choosing to respond with kindness and mercy instead of wrath and righteous revenge. It is an adventure filled with incredible highs and crushing lows, but because the risks are so great, the reward is worth the effort.
Fortune Favors the Prepared
The specific statistics vary, but premarital counseling has been shown to reduce the likelihood of divorce by as much as 31%. This makes sense because premarital counseling prompts deep and intentional discussion of topics most couples either avoid due to discomfort (sex) or lack of experience (financial planning). Rather than waiting to be surprised by a partner’s unexpected reaction to critical questions (kids or no kids?), premarital counseling sessions are a safe and supportive environment to fully explore potential problem areas.
Further, the entire process is meant to model and practice effective communication strategies, which will serve the couple for the long-term. Conflict resolution, specifically, is a critical skill for any couple to practice and plan for prior to a major issue emerging. Rather than arguing with criticism and destructive language, couples learn how to express specifically how they feel and what they need in the moment to move forward. If conflict is inevitable, why not learn how to make it both bearable and productive?
Marriage is a massive commitment and investment. It is not a commitment to be made lightly. Premarital counseling is an excellent opportunity to grow into your marriage with confidence and tools to sustain the relationship you have built to last.
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