October 2016: Smart Marriage
Buckling your seat belt every time you get in a car – smart.
Studying hard for that critical final exam – smart.
Putting money aside in a personal emergency fund – smart.
Going through a comprehensive premarital preparation program before your wedding – smart.
You’re excited about your upcoming wedding. You’re probably spending a lot of time preparing for that special day, as you should. Are you also preparing for the exciting future that follows, as a married couple? Getting ready for life-changing events seems like common sense to most people. Training and preparation is the norm when we’re talking about careers, operating a vehicle, or handling medical emergencies. It is just as important when you are getting ready to embark upon the most significant relationship in your life! Yet, as much time and money as some couples spend on preparing for the day of the wedding, many ignore the much more critical preparation for the life that follows.
Why is it necessary to “prepare” for marriage? Because it’s a life-changer. As a married couple, you will experience both joys and challenges that you never have before. You don’t need a crystal ball to realize that there will be aspects of your life together that you did not expect. Having the skills and wisdom to handle them well is what premarital preparation is all about. One thing my wife and I have learned in 37 years together is this: it’s not the problems you face, but how you face the problems that makes the difference in your marriage. Preparing for the unexpected is just plain smart.
You’ve probably heard some people use the term premarital counseling. I have never liked that phrase. “Counseling” implies that there is a personality or relationship problem that needs to be addressed. That’s not usually the case for an engaged couple (certainly not for you, right?). In contrast, premarital preparation is more like training or coaching: teaching you and your fiance how to steer around some of the major potholes and speed bumps of married life and how to truly enjoy the journey for the rest of your life.
So what does a good premarital preparation include? Ideally, it should start with a thorough assessment of the relationship as it is today. In our practice, we use a program called PREPARE-ENRICH©, which is a comprehensive and highly accurate online questionnaire for couples. It helps to identify those areas of the relationship that are going well, and those that may need some “tuning up.” Over the course of eight followup sessions, you and your fiance will discuss the results of the assessment and talk about your expectations of marriage. You’ll also learn important skills in communication, conflict resolution and solving problems as a team, rather than as adversaries. Along the way, you’ll get lots of tips and ideas for keeping the romance alive and dealing with children, inlaws, careers and friends. And there are fun, interactive exercises to help you get to know your mate even better!
The ultimate goal of premarital preparation is to help you be absolutely confident that you have the knowledge and skills to make your marriage last a lifetime, and that you will enjoy the trust, intimacy and friendship that a healthy marriage is all about. It’s not too soon to start. Schedule your premarital preparation program today.
Contributed by: Larry Compter, Executive Director