Did you know that half of all divorces occur in the first 7 years of marriage? So what might a couple do to stave off this statistic? How about taking the public health approach and vaccinating your relationship with premarital counseling?
Once you know the stats, this seems like a no-brainer approach, yet it is rarely sought. And what might a couple learn if they made the joint decision to pre-emptively strike at the heart of relationship disasters? What are the pitfalls that cause marriages to dissolve into bitterness and reproach?
A few things you might learn about each other:
1. What causes you to feel immediately overwhelmed?
2. How do you typically bring up complaints or issues with your partner?
3. Do you tend to spew irritants right away or do you stifle them, holding them inside?
4. What sorts of ways do you soothe each other? What is effective?
5. How can you let your partner know that you are emotionally maxed out and need a conversational break?
John Gottman’s years of observational research (on which I base much of the couples counseling services I offer) of hundreds of couples has made it possible to quantify disasters in the making and how to heal them with a directed approach. And knowledge of these same pitfalls can help a couple be forewarned to practice healthy skills in all of the important areas of marriage: communication (both in and out of the bedroom), parenting, finances, in-laws, and your faith or belief system. Learning what you are walking into your new relationship with is just as important and relevant as forging new rituals, patterns and goals with your partner.
In other words, an ounce of prevention…..you know the rest of that one. I think that parents giving their adult children the gift of premarital counseling is one of the single most thoughtful gestures they could bestow on couples as they start this journey. After all, the day you get married is simply day one. You continue to “get married” every day of your life in each of the areas mentioned above with this mate you have chosen.
So vaccinate. And consider booster shots every now and then. It is really helpful to have an unbiased outside source listen and help you sort through the sometimes complicated forest of feelings that can develop over time between stressful careers, overwhelming financial pressures, and parenting.