Some of the most rewarding work we do is helping a couple who are planning on getting married. “An ounce of prevention” is truly worth a pound of cure!
These couples are sometimes coerced into coming to us by a parent, who may even pay for the retreat… concerned parents who understand the challenges of marriage. In fact after 25+ years of doing marriage counseling and sex therapy, we have worked with some children of our couples from the past. These couples understand the wisdom of pre-marital education and give this as an engagement present to the young couple.
An Engagement Present
Parents who have divorced during their children’s childhood find pre-marital work particularly important. They hope that their beloved “child” and fiancé will have better success than they had with their marriage relationships. The childen of divorced parents run a high risk of repeating their parents’ behavior. Parents who know this hope that the next generation will learn to build healthy understanding and useful strategies to assure marital success, and therefore break the dysfunctional family patterns.
“Brave” and “smart” are two adjectives that come to mind when we think of the pre-marital couples that have worked with us. They are brave because they are willing to take a risk and challenge the conventional practices that focus only on the “rosy” picture of engagement and marriage. They are willing to look at the bigger picture of compatibility, skill building and ego strength. They are smart because they know that strong marriages are not just a matter of chance, but it takes initiative, action and hard work. They want to understand their emotions, just as they understand their finances and their career paths.
Get it Right the First Time
As marriage counselors and sex therapists we have heard countless times from stressed couples, “Our honeymoon ended when we got married.” Luckier couples will say, “Our honeymoon ended when we had children.” We believe that pre-marital work would have made a big difference for these couples. Helping them to understand what is to be expected realistically would have been extremely valuable. Teaching them how to succeed in their relationship together would have been priceless. Helping them after the problems have grown and their bad habits have formed is much more difficult than preventing the issues in the first place. Couples doing pre-marital work must be willing to take off their rose-colored glasses for a period of time; long enough to ask some challenging questions like:
- Do you know why second marriages have a higher incidence of divorce than first marriages?
- What is the significance of “seven” in the infamous “seven year itch”?
- Which is more important in long term marital satisfaction for most couples: being friends or being lovers?
- When is love an aphrodisiac… and when does it get in the way?
- What are the prognostic indicators of marital happiness?
These are just a few of the questions that we address in our pre-marital retreat.
In addition, couples learn about:
- Team building
- Communication skills
- Fair fighting and problem solving
- Individual well-being
- Control of anger and outbursts
- Moderation of excesses in work, partying, eating, exercise, etc.
- Stages of a family life cycle
- Parenting skills
- Attraction, desire, and desirability
- Healthy sexuality
- Affair prevention
This is by far some of the most important and rewarding work that we do. We help couples to get started on the right foot… developing positive attitudes, good relationship and personal habits, and healthy communication styles. They learn about their emotions, build their ability to put into words what they are thinking and feeling, and build their enjoyment of a happy and healthy relationship. They learn to be good role models for their children (if there will be any).
Get it Right the Second Time
Second marriages have a higher divorce rate than first marriages, therefore it is important to learn from past experiences and mistakes, and take the newfound understanding and awareness into your new commitment. Our positive and pro-active approach helps couples in blended families as well as childless situations to structure for success. Come learn from the past, and make it a great future.
Get it Right Every Time
“An ounce of prevention” is truly worth a pound of cure!