Recently I attended a baby shower, and among the silly games and exclamations of “oh isn’t that just adorable” there was the inevitable discussion of what the couple was doing to prepare, including which preparation classes the couple had taken. I started to wonder, why is it that we expect new parents to take classes and read countless books to prepare for the newest change in their lives and relationships, but we do not have such expectations when a couple is preparing for another huge change in their relationship: marriage? Why isn’t marriage prep more common for newly engaged couples?
The benefits of marriage preparation are substantial; a study published in 2006 by Scott Stanley, P.R. Amato, and Howard Markham out of the University of Denver showed that couples who participated in pre-marriage counseling had a 30% lower divorce rate. Whenever possible we prepare for the big changes in our lives, so it’s worth asking, what are the benefits of pre marriage counseling?
Skill based marriage education provided in pre marriage counseling gives couples the tools they need to navigate the ups and downs of their relationship. Marriage is, after all, one of the deepest and most fulfilling partnerships one has in life. In order for this partnership to function on a daily basis, as well as the long term, couples need skills to navigate the ins and outs of sharing a life together.
2) SHARED VALUES
Pre marriage counseling gives couples a chance to sort through underlying value differences that may not become part of the discussion until children, in-laws and other big life decisions come to pass. Early stages of relationships are often filled with excitement and romance, potentially keeping couples from delving into what can be more difficult discussions around spirituality, raising children, blended family challenges and lifestyle choices. Knowing your values align will avoid any potential surprises down the line.
3) MUTUAL EXPECTATIONS