In her recent article for marriage.com, therapist LaWanda N. Evans, LPC, NCC, argues that couples who undergo premarital counseling will have happier and healthier marriages. While not unheard of in our culture today, many couples view working with a counselor as something reserved for marriage and so this practice is not widespread. And ever more, therapy is commonly seen as a route to repairing an already broken marriage.
But rather than waiting until the damage in a relationship is already done, Evans applies the principles and positive effects of couples counseling to premarital relationships, and views the resulting improvements in communication and intimacy as something that will enrich the lives of couples, no matter whether they are married yet or not.
Indeed, Evans outlines a number of prescient points in support of her belief that “premarital counseling is worth the investment and important to the health and longevity of your relationship.” She analyzes myriad triggers that may not arise until after a couple is married, including one or another partners’ views on and experiences with infidelity, domestic violence, a history with childhood abuse, and anger management issues. As with married couples who commit to counseling, the fact is that unmarried couples will benefit greatly from putting everything out on the table sooner rather than later.
What’s more, couples who go through counseling before marriage actually experience benefits unique and specific to unwed couples as well. Rather than waiting until it’s too late, unmarried couples can foster an open, honest and ultimately productive dialogue about expectations prior to making the commitment that marriage entails. This may in fact prevent couples who are incompatible from getting married — and in the end, premarital counseling is sure to improve those well-known and worrying statistics about the prevalence of divorce.
Evans makes clear that the process of premarital counseling arms partners with the tools to communicate more effectively, understand each other’s expectations, and diffuse potential problems before they arise. Well before issues surface as a result of the everyday stresses of life and take their toll on long terms relationships, couples can prepare themselves for conflicts big and small. In other words, an ounce of a prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Her book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website. Feel free to ask a question here.
Terry’s forthcoming book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, will be published by Sounds True in February of 2020.