Funny thing about our society; most states have a waiting period and several requirements that must be met before you can get a divorce. However, there is nothing that mandates people to learn how to have a healthy, happy marriage before getting into one. If you are of legal age, you can get married. The only real limitations are set on the agreement that you are not already married and in many states, the gender of you and your partner is also factored in.
See, whether or not you are actually emotionally ready for marriage or fully informed of this life altering contract you are about to sign is not even legally considered (but your genitalia is?). Some states (and some divorce court judges) mandate counseling for couples who are trying to get divorced. Most states require parenting classes be taken during a divorce if there are children involved. Lots of attention and regulation exists when it comes to breaking a marital contract. Why aren’t we working harder to give couples a better chance at happiness on the front end by encouraging (or perhaps requiring) a longer waiting period and pre-marital counseling or coaching support? I actually know of a few wedding officiants not involved in a church who require this before marrying couples. My hat is off to them; the couples they marry have a much higher success rate!
In all fairness, some churches do require pre-marital counseling or classes and some families strongly encourage it too. From a legal standpoint, there is nothing more to being able to legally get hitched than obtaining a marriage license, finding someone who is ordained to sign it (or making an appointment at the justice of the peace) and then paying a nominal fee. So easy that you don’t really even have to give it too much pre-planning or thought. In a hurry? You can even get hitched at the drive-thru chapel of love in Las Vegas (can I get fries with that?).
Divorce Costs More Than Getting Married!
Have you ever given much thought to the difference between what it costs to get married through the court system and how much it costs to get divorced through that same system? Pre-marital counseling and Pre-marital coaching is MUCH cheaper than taking a big risk with your relationship and ending up divorced. What is there to lose besides the experience of a broken or a mediocre marriage?
Not being well prepared for a happy, healthy marriage is a very costly mistake in both financial and emotional terms. Even if couples do find their own way and stay married, I can’t help but wonder what they are leaving “on the table”, so to speak, by not putting in the effort to go learn how to make their union everything it could be instead. A good coach providing pre-marital counseling can take YEARS of trial and error and hurt feelings right out of the picture from the beginning!
What To Expect From Pre-Marital Counseling
So, what can you expect from pre-marital counseling or pre-marital coaching? If you are seeking help through your church, you can expect guidelines that are in alignment with the church views of marriage. Some church pre-marital counselors are quite good and thorough; some don’t move much out of the realm of church views and scripture study.
What about the couples who do not attend church or whose church program does not stretch far enough?
From a secular counselor or coach, you can expect to spend some time (and money) talking in detail on subjects such as yourselves, your expectations, your dreams, your plans, your hopes, your beliefs about things like money, children, family gatherings, time with friends, parenting styles, spending habits, career choices, housing and location preferences, spirituality, household duties and intimacy (not that this belongs last – it doesn’t!).
Figuring It Out Before You’are Married
Exceptionally good pre-marital counseling and coaching will also include things like working you through assessments. This helps to determine things such as your Emotional Intelligence skills, your fighting/arguing styles, your personal triggers, your love languages (how you prefer to give and receive affection and love), and help you build a stronger foundation for the changing times ahead.
The truth of the matter is, no matter how much you love each other, life has surprises in store for you down the road. Life changes. People change. Difficulties happen. Joyful times happen too. Being ready to take down all walls between you with the help of your counselor or coach and really get deeply, intimately connected will take your marriage farther and stronger than going it on chance or by what you both think you know. Simply put; we don’t know what we don’t know; so get help from someone else who can help you see farther.
Back to the original question. Do you NEED pre-marital counseling or pre-marital coaching? I personally think that finding a really good helper at the beginning of your journey together (and for the occasional check-up along the way) is the best insurance from needing a really good divorce lawyer later. No guarantees, of course, but it will certainly put the odds in your favor.