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Premarital counseling is a wonderful opportunity to explore your relationship honestly and creatively in a supportive setting. To learn why you are good together, how you can work with your differences and to articulate to one another the dreams and goals each of you hope to reach.
Learn whether you’re “on the same page” about issues that are important to you, and how to creatively and openly discuss and overcome your differences.
One of the keys to a successful marriage is preparedness. This means that you have to be able to get to know your partner well, not just in terms of simple likes and dislikes, but also personal beliefs, opinions, vulnerabilities, and strengths.
Using the Prepare process, I offer 3 to 5 sessions of 75 minutes each. My approach is educational, coaching and process oriented. Marriage may be the most complex of human relationships and, as with anything so important, sustaining it takes effort and commitment.
First, each partner independently takes a written inventory revealing feelings and expectations about such issues as the management of money and time, communication styles, conflict resolution skills, personality differences, sexual needs, expectations for the marriage, family of origin issues and differences, having and raising children, You are asked to indicate your level of assent — from strongly agree to strongly disagree.
Reviewing the results with feedback and facilitation, you’ll focus creatively on whether you’re “on the same page” about a given issue. You may uncover strengths in the relationship that help illuminate why you’re so strongly connected. Together we will also spotlight potential danger zones of disagreement. I’ve found that it’s often not the particular disagreement that matters most but how you communicate and manage your difference of opinion. Drawing from the skills that masters of relationships have taught us, I can help you improve your ability to communicate through conflict, deepen intimacy and your connection with your partner and overall teach you how to build and sustain a strong marriage. I believe the most important marriage skill is listening to your partner in a way that they can't possibly doubt that you love them.
Maia and Tim :
"Working with you has reminded us that the health and longevity of this marriage will be based on the attention, respect and communication tools that we bring into the private intimacy of our union…Using the Prepare inventory has fostered in us a lively dialogue with a great deal of laughter, love, humor and affirmation as we’ve explored our strengths and weaknesses to help us grow closer.”
Audrey and Mark :
“Thank you, Jim, for spending the time to help us enrich our relationship even more. We are looking forward to our special day, and even more excited about our new life together. Thank you for your wisdom and insight... and for the laughs. We had some good ones!”
The ideas below are central to the teaching/learning sessions we will spend together. It's so much better to know these ideas now, before your wedding than later!
Ten Ideas to Know for Having a Good Marriage
1. Marriage matters. Married people & their kids do better on all measures of health, wealth, happiness, & success.
2. Disagreements are normal no matter who you marry. The trick is to learn how to manage disagreements without hostility & put-downs.
3. It's not the differences but how we handle them that separate successful marriages from the failures.Disagreeing doesn’t predict divorce. Avoidance, contempt, criticism, blame, and the silent treatment predict divorce.
4. All happily married couples have approximately ten irreconcilable differences
ten issues they will never resolve. If we switch partners, we just get ten new issues that are likely to be even more annoying and complicated.
5. Love is not an absolute (a yes or no situation) and it’s not limited substance. It's a feeling and feelings ebb and flow depending on how we treat each other.
6. Marital satisfaction often dips with the birth of a baby That's normal. Marital satisfaction is at its lowest when there are kids in the house between 11 and 16. That's normal. We need to know what's normal, what to expect, appreciate our parenting partner – and hang in
7. Sex ebbs and flows. It comes and goes. That's normal. Plan for & make time for more “flows”.
8. Creating good marital sex is not about putting the sizzle BACK INTO your sex life.
Early marital sex is sex between strangers – we don't yet know our partner or ourselves. The most passionate sex is intimate sex based on knowing our partner and letting them know us. One of the most important tasks of marriage is to develop a satisfying marital sex style. It's not about going BACK; it's about going FORWARD, together.
9. Repair attempts are crucial and are highly predictive of marital happiness.They can be clumsy or funny, even sarcastic, but the willingness to make up after an argument, is central to every happy marriage.
10. Learn to welcome, embrace and integrate change – to discuss and update your wishes, hopes & dreams – on a regular basis. The marriage vow is a promise to stay married, not to stay the same. (Thank goodness!) Keep up-to-date with changes in your partner. Don’t fear change. Welcome it !
Being a registrant with Marriage Friendly Therapists means that I agree in principle with that organization’s view about marriage and the practice of therapy, as written in their Values Statement. If interested, you may read this values statement at My Professional Values