Love And Life Toolbox

Premarital Couples: Invest in Your Marriage as you do in Your Wedding Day

Our society puts a lot of focus on the wedding day.  Many couples spend countless hours on wedding preparation considering where they will marry, what color the flowers will be, tasting food, contemplating wedding favors and other touches that they believe will make this day special.  It all can be very expensive.

As a couples therapist, I often wish people would also consider a little investment in their marriage itself.  By the time many couples come to me, they are in a high levels of distress.  When peeling back the layers, it often becomes clear that never learned good communication skills, how to resolve conflict and literally have shifted away from a collaborative to adversarial relationship. Resentment can be a mile high for a number of reasons and they likely didn’t have the tools to work through the challenges at the time.  Or if they are both conflict avoidant, their strategy has been to sweep their issues under the rug.  This never works out in the end.

I can also completely understand how premarital education can be overlooked, especially with the intoxicating impact of the “honeymoon phase” of relationships.  The warm and fuzzy feelings of new love (your brain chemistry playing a significant role in this, with the biological drive to ensure connection) can set couples up to miss a few important life facts:

  • Life can be hard.
  • Relationships can be hard.

What does marriage investment look like when it comes to having the strongest relationship possible?  It means gathering the tools you may need for your marriage toolbox later, so when needed you can immediately go into self-help mode, holding an awareness of the following:

  • Healthy Communication   Learn to speak to your partner in a kind and compassionate way.  Acquire the skill of presence rather than withdrawing, calmness rather than emotional reactivity.  Listening and validation skills are critical in getting through tough conversation.
  • Emotional Safety  Think of what it will take for you and your partner to feel confident in knowing you are the “port in the other’s storm.”  A securely attached couple feels prioritized, respected and generally “safe” with each other.  There are many things that can derail emotional safety in a relationship.  Learn what it means for each of you.
  • Relationship Balance  The “you, me and we” of your relationship are like two overlapping circles.  Many people find satisfaction with attention paid to all three aspects.  Problems can arise for couples when there are different expectations around what this balance looks like.  Understand where you’re both coming from and be ready to possibly compromise.
  • Family of Origin Wounds  Old emotional injuries stemming from parents/primary caregivers often show themselves later in intimate relationships.  Issues of trust, self worth and other unhelpful belief systems born from negative experiences can impact how you operate with your partner.  Unpack your baggage and take a look at it.  Be aware of any vulnerabilities you or your partner come with.  Practice self-compassion for wounds from your family of origin and compassion for theirs.

Premarital education is an investment that can have a long-term payoff in a secure, loving and satisfying marriage.  If you choose to have children, it can continue to pay dividends to them as they reap the benefit of a stable, connected parent relationship.  You have options; premarital counseling or clergy or a few, depending on what resonates.

For the do-it-yourself couple who prefers a self-help method, try my guide, The Premarital Counseling Workbook for Couples, modeled after the premarital work I do with couples in my office in Marin County, California.

All digital products I offer in The Toolbox  are now 50% off in celebration of the holidays and and New Year with code G4FERDYU through January 31, 2024!

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is the creator of LoveAndLifeToolbox.com with emotional and relationship health articles, guides, courses and other tools for individuals and couples. She is a frequent consultant for the media having appeared in CNN.com, HuffingtonPost.com, MensHealth.com and others. Lisa has a private practice in Marin County, CA and offers Emotional Health and Relationship Consultations via email, phone or video conference.

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