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Before marrying, Audrey and Mark had expressed concern about their sometimes differing attitudes about gender issues, handling finances, raising children, spiritual beliefs. They wanted to be better prepared to deal with such challenges as a modern married couple, so they decided to pursue pre-marital education counseling and elected to participate in my PARTNERING FOR LIFE® program. Here’s what they wrote me afterward:
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!
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, viulnerabillities, and strengths Then again, simply knowing is not enough. You must also know what to do when you emphatically disagree.
Couples that are planning to get married are advised to undergo premarital counseling. Jim Covington Marriage Counselor offers this wonderful opportunity for you to be able to fully explore your relationship in a creative and honest manner. I provide a supportive environment where you can understand why you and your partner are meant to be together, learn how to live and deal with your differences and illuminate your goals and dreams.
Doesn’t this make good sense: The more you know about your own and your partner’s strengths and vulnerabilities, the clearer you will be as to what you agree and disagree about. And the greater your ability to deal with problems and conflicts that surface in every marriage, the better chance you have to keep your own marriage exciting, growing, on track. What will you do—what do you do—when you disagree emphatically about something?
The pre-marital counseling I offer is a wonderful opportunity to explore your relationship honestly and creatively in a supportive setting, to learn why you’re so good together, how you can live with your differences and to articulate to one another the dreams and goals each of you hope to reach.
How? First, each partner independently takes a written inventory (called Prepare) 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 my 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.
As another couple, Maia and Tim wrote to me:
"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.”
Here’s how I work: Using the Prepare process, I offer 3 to 5 sessions of 75 minutes each. My approach is educational, coaching and process oriented. A cost is involved but couples who have completed the program consider it a sound investment in their future. Marriage may be the most complex of human relationships and, as with anything so important, sustaining it takes effort and commitment. So don’t wait for problems to develop. Jump-start your marriage with information that optimizes strengths and manages differences. It truly is a timeless gift for someone you love.
I have seen my pre-marital education PARTNERING FOR LIFE® approach unite couples in deeply constructive ways that should assist them in staying happily together long after they are legally united. In fact, research at the University of Denver’s Center for Marital and Family Studies indicates that couples who pursue pre-marital counseling “have a significantly lower divorce rate than couples who don’t.”
PARTNERING FOR LIFE pre-marital counseling-- A Short-term Marriage Preparation Program for Couples Determined to Keep Their Marriage as Happy and Satisfying as Their Wedding Day.
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Or call me at 212-799-1157
or e-mail me at email@example.com.
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