When you meet with your celebrant before your marriage ceremony, they will hand you a brochure called "Happily Ever Before and After" which gives you information about what happens after you're married and also includes information about relationship counselling and marriage education. Have you considered seeking relationship assistance? If so, great.... if not, why not? Today's blog has been written by Celebrant and regular blogger and Shell Brown from Mandurah, WA.
Let’s start to look at “Relationship Education and Marriage Counselling” in a different way.
You meet someone you like, you have a giddy feeling in the pit of your stomach when they’re around. You grow so close that you automatically know what they’re thinking before they think it. You feel like you know each other better than you know yourselves. You’re in love and you can’t wait to get married.
Here’s where I’m going to stop you.
This is the time when you need to step outside of the beautiful love bubble that you’re in and sit down for a serious conversation with your beloved.
More and more couples are finding themselves - post marriage - reaching a point in their relationship where they don’t quite understand what has gone wrong as a result of not discussing important issues before getting hitched and ignoring those burning questions and much needed answers during their marriage.
“There is this assumption, because a couple is so in love and know each other so well, that they are on the same page, but it is incredibly important to talk about your finances, career goals and whether you want kids plus a whole range of other things before getting married.”
In a lead up to the wedding, couples work together and make big decisions about where the reception will be held, who is going to be in the bridal party, who is sitting next to who at the family table, but they’re planning a ‘wedding’ and it seems that conversations about their forthcoming ‘marriage’ - the important bit - are left unsaid and unquestioned.
Couples are not talking about the following things:
* Whether they want to have children?
* How their children will be brought up?
* What their parenting style will be?
* Whether they were wanting to have their children baptised into a certain religion?
* Who will be the main ‘stay at home’ parent?
* If they can afford to put their kids in daycare?
* Where they will live?
* How much money each other earns?
* Any debts they’ll be bringing into the marriage?
* If they can live and stick to a budget?
* What they hope to do in the future - career wise?
* What are their expectations about married life?
* How much will each other’s families influence their lives?
* Ways they will continue to work on their relationship after they are married? i.e. date night without social media and open communication where both people’s feelings are accepted and validated. This should be an ongoing part of your marriage. Situations change and feelings change, so your relationship needs continual checking in with each other to make sure you are still on the same page.
So what is stopping us from having these incredibly important conversations?
As a celebrant, whenever I talk to couples about the importance of relationship education most of the responses are very similar:
“We’ve been living together for years, we know what’s going on with each other.”
“We don’t need that, do we Babe?”
“I already know him like the back of my hand.”
"if we needed counselling, we wouldn't be getting married!" - this one is usually said with a side eye of 'how dare you even suggest such a thing!"
When we look at the other areas of our lives that need attention, we don't hesitate - if we're ill, we seek help from a doctor; when our car breaks down, we take it to a mechanic; if our computer plays up, we head to the Genius Bar - we don't just muddle through ourselves hoping for the best.
We make appointments with financial advisors when we have money issues and we employ yoga instructors and PTs to keep our bodies in shape. In fact it seems we are looking after our health and well being in so many areas of our lives - except the most important relationship with our partner.
The word ‘counselling’ has somehow become attached with something being wrong or broken in your relationship, but that’s not necessarily the case at all. To seek the help of a relationship professional shows that you take your relationship seriously and that you want to do what you can to keep it healthy.
You might seek help because you've lost your direction, but you don’t have to wait until you’re at breaking point before asking for help. Some couples have regular ‘check ups’ with a relationship professional, just to keep on top of things.
It’s a conversation to see how you’re feeling about everything in your lives. A professional helps to keep that conversation on track and if necessary might give you some handy hints to make things even better.
I don’t know a single couple who hasn’t needed relationship help at some point and getting all your thoughts and feelings out of your head - whether they are positive or negative allows you go grow as a couple and helps you to understand each other better.
It is just as sensible as having your car serviced or having a check up at your doctors and it could just be the best thing you ever do in your marriage.
Finding a relationship professional in your area is easy - simply call your local Celebrants Network Celebrant and ask for a recommendation.