My Fiance and I went through 6 sessions of pre-marrital counseling this year and while we don’t have any major relationship issues at this time, we did learn a lot and it has helped us connect and grow as a couple. I am sharing my experience here with you to help you get an idea of what marriage counseling covers and how it is good for anyone planning to get married or already is married.
I decided to start counseling when I started having doubts about our relationship and struggled with joining another family full of issues that I would deal with forever. I honestly wanted to run like hell in the opposite direction but my Fiance is a great guy and I knew my confused feelings were not his fault and I needed proffesional guidance. I spent about 2 months crying over my sudden doubts or “cold feet”, thinking of what I would do if we broke up, feeling guilty, having awkward and difficult conversations, looking at Christians family like I would never see them again and reading so many articles on what all this meant. Not to mention that our wedding date was less than a year away and we weren’t planning anything because in the back of our minds we thought it wouldn’t happen at all.
Well thank God and thank our counselor for the clarity and confidence in our relationship that came out of our time in counseling. My goal going into our first session was that at the end of 6 weeks, I would be confident in my decision to marry Christian. After the last session I can honestly say that goal was met.
I’m going to list some topics we covered, any concerns, questions, or beliefs I had regarding the topic and my main takeaways from the session.
Session 1: Introductions, Backgrounds and Personalities.
I knew Christian was passive but I didn’t know that was his personality, I thought being passive was a negative trait and he needed to change.
- Everyone has a personality that has strengths and weaknesses. You can love certain things about your partners personality like how a passive person doesn’t get angry easily but they also have weaknesses like not having strong opinions or beliefs. Your personality has strengths and weaknesses as well.
- You can’t change your partners personality, it’s who they are. If you constantly try to change them, they will wear a mask of a fake personality around you and it will damage your relationship. An example of this is if someone is an introvert, they can dance in front of an audience but they would probably hate doing it. You don’t want your partner to feel that way around you.
- There are no 2 specific personality types that are perfect matches for marriage or who are destined to fail. You can make anything work if you are willing to.
Session 2: The creation of man and woman and your spiritual journeys.
I was concerned with Christians lack of interest in spiritual things. I grew up being told not to marry someone who wasn’t on your spiritual level.
I was taught God created Eve to be Adams wife. I was also in a religious environment that glorified being a man and judged women.
- God created the world in an order from the most simple to the most complex. It started with dark and light and ended with the creation of a woman. A woman is the most complex creation of God.
- God saw mankind was living alone on the earth and said it was not good. Humans need companions. This was the only time during creation that God said something was not good. Creation was not complete until a woman was created.
- Adam and Eve were not married, at least not in the modern day sense. God created woman as another human being, fulfilling creation, not as a mans wife.
- It’s okay not to know what you believe. There are no dividing lines in belief, we are all on a continuous spiritual journey.
- If your partner has beliefs that clash with yours like if you are very spiritual and your partner is an atheist, this can be very problematic. But if you are spiritual and your partner is open to spiritual things but has no opinion on it, that’s okay.
- There are no rules you have to follow in your marriage. You can go to separate churches, watch church online at home, you don’t have to pray together or use the same methods of spiritual expression. Decide together what is best for your relationship.
- Submission in marriage should be practiced by the husband and the wife. Submission means your partner is more educated in an area than you and you are learning from them or letting them make a decision. It’s you choosing to let them teach you or take the lead in a situation where you keep your dignity and they keep theirs. It’s mutual respect. Submission in marriage as mentioned in the Bible, has nothing to do with sex.
- God is not a man. We can not comprehend who God is. We only understand what we see and God relates to a woman and a man in the bible to make us understand God more.
Session 3: Sex and Friendships.
Is sex actually important in marriage? What if I hate having sex?
We need good friends who help us grow and are on our level. Gamers who play together are not real friends and co-workers are not real friends.
- It is common for women, especially younger women, not to enjoy sex. There are so many reasons for this and it is not something to be ashamed of.
- If you don’t enjoy sex, your partner should respect you and give you time to get professional help. Sex should make you feel safe and respected.
- During sex, make sure your partner is enjoying themselves and work on being better every time.
- Talk with your partner about what you like and don’t like during sex. Try new positions, use toys or other aids if you want.
- Sex is very important in a healthy marriage but only within the consent and dignity of each other. Sex is meant to be mutually enjoyed. If you have past trauma or physical pain, get help from a counselor or doctor.
- Friends are good but not friends who hold you back from growing, disrespect your relationship, or gossip 24/7.
- Co-workers usually don’t make good friends, you just see them a lot. Co-workers are usually the kind of people mentioned above.
- Have friends that you have fun with and have good conversations with that are not gossip or work related. You don’t have to be the same age or in the same stage of life, just be around people you enjoy.
- Making friends doesn’t just happen, you have to get out there and try. Join local groups that interest you, take a class you enjoy where you can meet people, go to a young adult bible study. There are actually apps for making friends as well.
- As for gamer friends, they can be real friends. Just be sure they follow the same rules mentioned above and are not doing you more harm than good.
Session 4: Communication and Happiness
I feel like Christian isn’t listening to me or doesn’t care about my feelings when he walks away from difficult conversations or has nothing to say.
The #1 thing I get upset about is issues with some family members. It does end up affecting my relationship with Christian because it puts me in a bad mood.
- Usually men in a relationship want to fix problems. Christian doesn’t say much when I’m sharing my feelings or he walks away because he can’t fix my problem and doesn’t want to say the wrong thing.
- I don’t want him to fix my problems, I want him to validate how I feel. With Christian knowing how I need him to respond to me when I’m upset, he can help calm me down instead of causing more frustration.
- I hold some resentment towards a few family members and resentment, even if directed to someone other than your spouse, is detrimental to marriage. We can hold resentment towards someone even years after they die.
- If I stop letting this family situation affect me so much, my relationship and personal life would flourish.
- Marriage counseling is not the place to work on all our personal struggles that don’t involve our partner, but you should get help from another professional that can help you with your specific struggles.
Session 5: Understanding emotions
I never thought of how my personal problems that upset me made Christian feel.
I didn’t like that Christian doesn’t properly word things he says and doesn’t explain things well.
- Christian has problems showing emotion because he’s not sure if his feelings matter or if he has a right to be heard and understood. His childhood gave him a negative example of emotions.
- He feels hurt, sad and angry over things that other men did to me and the way some people treat me.
- I used to get mad at him when we were dating for crying too much and being sad or depressed so he stopped showing those emotions around me. He still felt them, but was holding things inside so he wouldn’t upset me.
- Christian doesn’t like to feel emotional or sad and tries to distract himself or hide his feelings and change the way he feels as soon as possible.
- Most people treat their spouse worse than everyone else, even worse than complete strangers. We don’t properly greet or say goodbye to our spouse, we come home from work and immediately start complaining. We make fun of them and nitpick everything they do.
- Everyone’s feelings and thoughts matter, even if they don’t speak them well.
Session 6: More on sex and handling finances together.
- Your sex life with a new person is completely new, like you’ve never had sex before. Anything you experienced with someone else doesn’t have a place in your sex life now.
- Don’t compare sex with someone else or think about that person, negative or positive experience, during sex with your current partner.
- Dialog (talk or write) about sex each time you do it and discuss where to improve. You can schedule when you will have sex if that helps improve your experience.
- Again, get counseling help with traumatic sexual experiences from the past. If you need to take a break from sex, that’s okay, but don’t let your sex life die completely.
- Decide if you will have debt or not.
- Agree on if you will have a joined bank account or separate accounts.
- Make a budget together and go over it every month.
- Agree on what money is ours and what is mine.
These are a few things we talked about during our counseling sessions but everyone’s session will look different depending on their relationship.
Below is the book and workbooks we used during our sessions. You can order them off Amazon.
For financial advice, our counselor and myself recommend following Dave Ramsey. He is a radio show host, author and businessman. I read one of his books last year and started following him on Instagram @daveramsey. I learned so much and finally started saving money and making better financial decisions. I have more money now than I did when I worked at a job paying double what I make. Dave’s advice has helped Christian and I to plan for our future and make smart financial decisions together.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog! I hope this was informative. Leave any questions or comments for me down below.