Things to Discuss Before Marriage: The Importance of Premarital Counselling
Marriage is a significant milestone in a person’s life, and it marks the beginning of a lifelong commitment between two individuals. However, many couples often underestimate the importance of having open and honest discussions about various aspects of their relationship and future together.
Let’s face it, not seeing eye to eye with someone you care about is unsettling and doesn’t feel good. For this reason people in the “honeymoon stage” of their relationship may shy away from these hard topics or downplay their feelings about the significance of them to avoid disagreements. And that’s exactly why premarital counseling is so beneficial.
By initiating these conversations in a guided and supportive environment, couples can establish a solid foundation and set realistic expectations for their marriage. Premarital counseling helps couples identify and address potential areas of conflict before those issues have a chance to turn into serious problems. Couples also learn effective communication skills and conflict resolution strategies.
7 Important Things to Discuss in Premarital Counselling
1. Values and Beliefs
Understanding each other’s values and beliefs is a fundamental aspect of any relationship. Discuss your religious and spiritual beliefs, as well as your moral and ethical values. Explore how these beliefs will impact your daily lives, decision-making, and potential conflicts that may arise. It is important to find common ground and ensure that your values align to prevent future conflicts.
2. Goals and Aspirations
Take the time to discuss your individual and shared goals and aspirations. Talk about your career ambitions, financial objectives, and personal dreams. Explore how you can support each other’s goals and create a plan to achieve them together. It is vital to have a shared vision of the future and work towards it as a team.
3. Communication and Conflict Resolution
Premarital counselling provides a safe space for couples to address communication styles, emotional expression, and conflict resolution strategies. Communication is a vital part of a healthy relationship, but is something most people don’t have modelled for them in their families of origin and don’t study in school. By learning effective communication techniques and conflict resolution skills, couples can enhance their ability to navigate challenges and maintain healthy dialogue in their marriage.
Money matters are a common source of conflict in marriages. Premarital counseling sessions can help couples openly discuss their financial situations, attitudes towards money, and financial goals. By exploring topics such as budgeting, saving, and financial responsibilities, couples can develop a shared approach to managing their finances, minimizing financial stress, and promoting financial harmony in their marriage.
5. Family and Children
Through premarital counselling, couples can discuss their expectations and desires regarding starting a family. Conversations can delve into topics such as desired number of children, parenting styles, and the balance between career and family life. A counselor can provide guidance on navigating potential challenges and facilitating healthy discussions about extended family relationships.
6. Intimacy and Emotional Needs
Premarital counselling offers a supportive environment to address intimacy and emotional needs within the relationship. Couples can openly discuss their expectations, desires, and concerns, enabling them to build a strong emotional connection and maintain a fulfilling intimate relationship over time.
7. Roles and Responsibilities
Through guided discussions in premarital counseling, couples can explore the division of household chores, responsibilities, and expectations for each partner’s role in the marriage. These conversations provide an opportunity to openly communicate expectations, find a balance that works for both partners, and foster a harmonious household environment.
Prepare-Enrich Premarital Counselling
What does premarital counselling at Restore Renew Revive entail? I am trained both as an Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist and as a Prepare Enrich Facilitator. For premarital counselling I primarily use the Prepare Enrich program which is a widely recognized premarital counselling program designed to help couples prepare for marriage, strengthen their relationship, and build a solid foundation for a successful future together. It provides couples with a comprehensive assessment tool and resources to facilitate meaningful discussions on various aspects of their relationship.
The Prepare Enrich program involves an online assessment that covers key areas such as communication, conflict resolution, financial management, family dynamics, and personal expectations. The assessment provides insights into the couple’s strengths and areas for growth, helping them gain a deeper understanding of each other and their relationship dynamics.
Based on the assessment results, couples then work with me through a series of structured exercises and discussions which is where I draw on my years of experience as an EFT couples therapist to help guide and facilitate these conversations. These sessions aim to address specific areas of concern, build effective communication skills, and equip couples with practical tools to navigate challenges that may arise in their marriage.
The Prepare Enrich program focuses on promoting open and honest communication, enhancing problem-solving abilities, and fostering empathy and understanding between partners. It encourages couples to explore their values, beliefs, and goals, allowing them to align their expectations and establish a strong foundation for their life together. It provides a structured and supportive environment for couples to have important conversations and develop strategies to navigate the complexities of married life.
Premarital counseling offers couples the opportunity to have meaningful discussions about crucial aspects of their relationship before marriage. By engaging in this process, couples can gain valuable insights, improve their communication and conflict resolution skills, and establish a strong foundation for a fulfilling and successful marriage. Investing in premarital counselling can significantly contribute to the long-term happiness and satisfaction of the couple, setting them on a path for a thriving lifelong partnership.
If you and your partner are preparing for marriage and want to ensure a strong and healthy foundation, consider seeking professional premarital counseling from Restore. Renew. Revive. Counselling & Couples Therapy. Our experienced social worker, Marcy Daniels, is dedicated to supporting couples as they navigate important conversations and prepare for a successful marriage.
To schedule an appointment or learn more about our services, contact us at 902-702-7722 or visit our website at https://restorecounselling.ca. Our team is here to help you restore, renew, and revive your relationship as you embark on this exciting journey together.
Sue Johnson, psychologist and relationship expert noted, “It is the fact that in times of crisis and danger our attachment system is primed to search for comforting contact. Suddenly our vulnerability is impossible to deny or put aside.
The key relationship defining questions “Are you there for me-Can I count on you” are front and centre. And, if the answers to these questions are negative or ambiguous, our nervous system tells us we are in trouble.
2. Do you support each other – As humans, we rely on our romantic relationships to provide us with some level of encouragement and support. Feeling alone in a relationship some times is normal, but if your relationship is fraught with anxiety and disagreements, no wonder you are considering leaving your relationship.
Sue Johnson, psychologist and relationship expert, notes that the main resource our species has learned to rely on is the support of a loved one to whom we are precious.
Our brains go into what she call attachment panic, and we either try to strong arm our partner into responding, or begin to totally numb out and shut down emotionally.
3. Do your plans and visions for the future align? – To feel a sense of certainty about your commitment, you need to see a way ahead together with a vision and goals for the future.
A recent paper in the journal Lancet points out that humans have a long history of breaking down emotionally during quarantines and pandemics. Symptoms of isolation-induced distress may include emotional detachment from others, irritability and exhaustion. “I want out” is something couples may say in desperation when feeling trapped by a seemingly inescapable and interminable pandemic.
Check in with yourself; is the feeling of “if only I could escape this relationship” driven by pandemic frustration or is it because you and your partner have grown in different directions and have your own plans and visions for the future.
4. Are your arguments healthy? – Arguments are normal, but how you argue matters. Are you able to keep your arguments from getting out of hand, find a way to calmly discuss and reach a solution? You need to argue in a way that makes both parties feel heard.
You have no idea why things seem to go sideways in your conversations. Truthfully, you are confused about why you consistently misunderstand each other.
If all couples argue, why do some couples end up getting more and more distant and pissed off with each other while others seem to be able to work it out?
The short answer is that couples can get stuck in a negative pattern of reacting (triggering) each other that they don’t know how to get out of. This is often a strong indicator of the need for couples counselling. However, if things get violent often, then you need to rethink things.
Sex can be one of the most difficult topics for a couple to talk about. It’s a great idea to create a safe space in your relationship where you can openly talk about your sex life.
If you answered yes to most/all of the questions above, then you and your partner are probably in a great place.
If not, carefully reflect on the questions and try revisiting them with your partner before making a final decision to leave your relationship.
It might also be a great idea to meet with a skilled therapist to help you individually as you reflect on these questions.
If you’re struggling with the decision to leave your relationship, and need a therapist to talk to, please give me a call. If you would like to explore if couples counselling may the right path, I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.
“Why can’t we comminicate”? This is one of the most common concerns that couples cite when they begin counselling with me. In recent weeks, as restrictions ease and and certain pre-lock down activities resume, like-going to restaurants, working out, visiting friends and travelling around the “Maritime bubble”, I’ve had many couples tell me they are arguing more often as they to navigate their differing comfort levels.
Daily, there are questions like; should we eat out or cook at home? Do I work out at the gym or in the basement? Will we attend the family reunion? Is it safe to send our kids back to school?
One partner might have a chronic or acute illness and be at risk for complications from the virus.
Maybe one partner has parents who are older and more vulnerable and feels more apprehensive about increasing social interactions.
Or, perhaps one partner prefers the quiet, slower pace enforced by the pandemic, and doesn’t long to return to their pre-pandemic hustle and bustle.
However, if the other partner craves social connection with others or longs to return to their pre-lockdown routine as closely as possible, this can cause friction in the relationship as the couple seeks to adapt to new realities.
For many couples, these daily routines and decisions had long been addressed. They feel surprised and frustrated by the increase in conflict and poor communication, now that the answers to these questions may no longer seem so clear.
While our present circumstances certainly provide plenty of content for disagreements, any number of topics can be at the heart of a couple’s failure to communicate. Some of the most common topics that couples cite are; sex, finances, kids, in-laws and how much time to spend together.
What Creates a Communication Breakdown?
Why can these particular topics cause communication breakdown so frequently? Kyle Benson, one of my favourite relationship bloggers, says that it’s because they are “issues that are sensitive to our heart-typically something from our childhood or a previous relationship. These issues are often called triggers. Triggers are emotional buttons that we all possess, and when these buttons are pushed, it brings up certain feelings in us and we react accordingly.”
When we are triggered, we lose sight of the impact we have on our partner and the importance of our relationship. We get caught in emotional reactivity, because, according to psychologist and relationship expert Sue Johnson, “our brain codes moments of disconnection in love relationships as a threat.”
The way that our brains react to threatening or dangerous situations is for our amygdala to trigger the fight/flight/freeze response and to prepare the body for an emergency by flooding it with adrenalin and cortisol.
Why Can’t We Communicate Effectively?
Sometimes, under increased emotional stress, people turn down the emotional intensity by turning away from their partners and keep their emotions to themselves. This makes it hard for their partners to understand what they are going through or to provide support.
Other times, people become more reactive and their emotions bubble over. They express their intense feelings by turning against their partner in anger, frustration and criticism.
Bottling up or bubbling over with emotion directed at your partner can create a negative cycle where an argument escalates quickly, leaving both people feeling even more frustrated, confused and alone.
When couples get stuck in this negative cycle they rarely get a chance to deal with the underlying issues, but rather get caught in communication break down.
Even couples who typically communicate well, can experience a communication break down when there are many difficult decisions to make, if emotions are running high or are going through situations that are stressful.
When these moments of disconnection happen often and communication seems to be increasingly difficult, people begin to feel that there are real problems in their relationship.
1. First, on your own, identify the specific scenario that brought up your strong feelings. What was it that your partner did/said? What specific behaviours or body language got under your skin? What exactly were you reacting to?
2. Then identify the worst, most negative thoughts you have about your partner, yourself or the relationship that arose in that moment as a result of the interaction. (ie. “You don’t care about me”, “You don’t take my needs seriously”, “You’re trying to control me”, “Our relationship won’t survive this”).
3. Next, choose from the list of emotions here and pick the word(s) that best describe what you are feeling in these moments.
4. Ask yourself; do you show theses feelings or express them in a clear way to your partner? If not, what feelings do you usually express to them? Often it’s anger, frustration or no feelings at all.
5. Later, after the emotional intensity has passed, when you are both able to engage in conversation. Have each person take a turn sharing with the other about what happened to them during the ‘rocky moment’.
“When you stopped talking and looked at your phone when I was trying to tell you about how nervous I was to send Johnny back to school this fall, I felt like you didn’t care about me or take my concerns seriously. I felt really afraid and alone.”
6. Listen attentively to the other person’s experience, accept how you contributed to their distress, even if unintentional, and explore how you can be there for them.
Is It Possible to Improve Communication In Our Relationship?
Once a couple discovers what their triggers are, and works out a way to successfully communicate their thoughts and feelings with each other, they will begin to have more productive conversations. This help them to see their partner as more accessible, engaged and responsive to them and ultimately feel more statisfied with the communication in the relationship.
As a couple learns what each others vulnerabilities and sensitivities are, they can learn to soothe each others ‘raw spots’. This will bring them closer together and make each person feel more safe and secure as the trust within the relationship deepens.
If you’ve been struggling with relationship communication breakdowns and you just haven’t been able to work out your issues, marriage & couples counselling can be very helpful. I invite you to reach out for a free 15 minute consultation to see if we’d be a good fit to work together, to help get your relationship back on track.
Dating is challenging for everyone. But when you suffer with depression, dating can feel scary and overwhelming. Not only do you feel particularly raw and vulnerable to possible rejection, but should a connection be made, you have the added burden of figuring out how and when to tell the person about your depression.
Should people with depression date? If the person feels emotionally strong enough, then yes of course they should date. The real question is HOW should they date? If you are suffering with depression and are interested in dating, here are some things to consider when meeting new potential partners:
Take Things Slow
There is no need to open up to someone on a first date and let them know that you suffer with depression. You’ll want to invest a little bit of time to see if this person is someone you think you could get serious with.
If after a few dates you think he or she could be someone you’d like to go deeper with, then feel free to test the waters on the topic of depression. Don’t feel you have to get into nitty-gritty details; simply tell them that you live with depression and see how they react.
Your potential partner may have follow-up questions immediately or they may think about things for a while and then bring up some questions later. Whenever they do, be honest with your answers.
It will be tempting to want to downplay things in order to put your best self forward. But not being honest about your symptoms and reality will backfire eventually. Let them know you have good days and bad and if you are currently taking medications and/or seeing a therapist. Answer as many questions as you feel comfortable with, but when you do, just be sure to be honest and not pretend you are someone you’re not.
Learn from Your Past
Everyone has dating pitfalls and patterns, and people with depression are no different. It’s important that you respect past dating failures so you can prevent them from happening again. For instance, did you tend to date people who made you feel bad about yourself? If you find you’re doing it again, call things off and take some time to regroup.
Seeking the help from a licensed therapist can help you work out any issues you have that are hindering your relationships. If you notice you keep repeating past mistakes, try and talk with someone who can help you navigate your own behavior.
If you or a loved one suffers from depression and would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.
4 Ways Relationships Might Change When Facing Grief
Experiencing the death of a loved one is often the biggest challenge a person faces. Grieving can feel overwhelming and consume every facet of your life. It is during this time that you need the comfort of others the most, and yet social connections often feel strained or flipped upside-down as you navigate grief and relationships.
Here are four ways relationships can shift when you are trying to navigate the loss of a loved one:
1. Your Support System May Surprise You
You may be surprised who steps up in your greatest hour of need. Some of your closest loved ones, those who have been by your side through dating and childbirth and other life dilemmas, may not be able to be there for you during your bereavement. It is often people you’d least expect who show up to hold your hand while you grieve. An old friend you’ve lost touch with, a co-worker you’ve hardly spoken to but who understands the complexities of living with death… these are sometimes the people who help the hurt go away.
2. You Will Feel Angry – And That’s Okay
You will try and understand why your closest friends and relatives seem to have abandoned you during one of the most painful times in your life. But understanding won’t make the pain of it go away.
Yes, it’s important to realize that not everyone can cope with death and loss, including the people closest to you. It’s also important to recognize that feeling this additional pain, and even anger and resentment about feeling abandoned, is totally normal and okay.
3. People Will Avoid You
Losing loved ones is something all of us will go through, but some people cannot handle this reality. Just the thought of a loved one dying is more than many people can bear. Seeing your pain and sitting with you in your time of darkness will force others to look this stark reality in the face. Many people simply can’t do it. If you find that friends and relatives seem to be avoiding you, understand it is most likely because they cannot handle their own fears of loss.
4. You Will Have Something in Common with Others
For most people, it’s hard to understand certain things until they experience it themselves: Having children, running a marathon, getting divorced. Losing a loved one is certainly on this list as well. While your current group of loved ones will try to empathize with you, the reality is that you now belong to a special club and those who you feel close to and understood by may change.
This does not mean you will no longer feel close to those you did before the loss, but it means you have now changed and how you perceive the world and others has changed as well.
Relationships are hard, and they can be more difficult during periods of loss and grief. It’s important that you are gentle with yourself during this time and seek help. Consider joining a support group. Being around those who share your pain firsthand can be a comfort during this time.
You may also want the guidance of a therapist who can help you navigate your complex emotions and offer tools to work through your grief.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
A healthy sex life is important to create a full and happy life
Every person has essential human needs. When we don’t get those needs met, our mental and sometimes physical health can suffer as a result. When we think of fundamental human needs, food, shelter, and water come to mind. However, a healthy sex life is also an important component to create a full and happy life for many people.
While it’s not physically or psychologically unhealthy for someone to live an asexual or celibate life, for people that crave the intimacy of a sexual relationship, a healthy sex life is a vital part of a full and happy life. Sex is not only part of a fulfilling life for many people, it also supports good mental health in many ways.
Four Ways a Healthy Sex Life Improves Your Mental Health
1. Boosts Serotonin
Low serotonin can cause you to be unable to create or act on plans and strategies. If you have low serotonin, you might have difficulty finishing tasks. You might also become easily agitated, feel a bit down in the dumps, or be unable to control your impulses.
Sex boosts serotonin, which helps improve your mood and fight off depression. Additionally, one of the hormones released during orgasm is serotonin, leaving you feeling soothed from stress and anxiety.
2. Boosts Self Esteem
A lack of sex can be harmful, causing your self-worth and confidence to plummet. When you have sex, the feelings of intimacy with your partner, as well as feeling nurtured and desired boosts your self-confidence and overall well-being.
3. Leads to Better Sleep
Sex also improves how you sleep. It’s very common to fall asleep after sex because your body releases prolactin, a hormone that helps you feel rested and relaxed. The orgasm also releases oxytocin, a hormone that promotes sleep. Since a lack of sleep can worsen a mental health disorder, or increase your risk for developing one, better sleep promotes a healthier, more refreshed you.
4. Makes you happy
The cuddling and physical intimacy of sex also gives a boost to your happiness. Endorphins are one of the many chemicals released in the brain during sex. Endorphins are the neurotransmitters associated with the feeling of happiness, causing your mood to brighten overall as it helps lift depression.
Are you struggling with depression or anxiety and looking for guidance and support? A licensed therapist can help you find ways to boost your mood, and work with you to develop a plan to improve your quality of life. Call my office today, and let’s set up a time to talk.