Red Pattern

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Premarital Counseling

Mr. Coach and I are not going to do premarital counseling.

I know that the topic of premarital counseling can bring up some debate - some think it's absolutely necessary, some would never consider it, and others fall somewhere in between, unsure of how they feel about it. I'd say that Mr. Coach and I fall somewhere in that last category. We never completely ruled out the idea of meeting with someone before the wedding, but we also never knew we were absolutelywithoutadoubt going to do it, either.

As someone who just finished their degree in Psychology, I am very much a supporter of receiving professional help whether it's for personal issues,  marital problems, or just having someone to be a sounding board while you "vent". I think that getting an opinion from an "expert" can be very helpful. However, I also think that many times, premarital counseling is not so much counseling as it is just fulfilling a requirement. It seems that many couples only do it because they have to in order to be married by a certain person, at a certain place, etc. and don't really benefit. That being said, I've never been married and I've never been to premarital counseling, so what do I know? Not much. But I do know that we decided not to do it.

Mr. Coach and I are religious, our ceremony will be a religious ceremony, and Mr. Coach's former church youth pastor/good friend will be officiating. He does not require that we do counseling with him or with another pastor/church. He kindly offered to fly down and meet with us a few times before the wedding, so that we could talk and ask any questions we might have. We ultimately decided against it, mainly for scheduling and inconveniences sake, but I also just wasn't completely sold on the idea.

I don't want to sound completely naive, but Mr. Coach and I talk about anything and everything, including the "tough" stuff, and I really don't know how much we would benefit from premarital counseling. Along with our wide range of communication, we're both very familiar with things like our Love Languages and personality types from Myers Briggs types tests - things that are typically "homework" in counseling settings. On top of the these things, Mr. Coach also has a great mentor in his dad, something that I think is so important for a guy. His parents have been married over 30 years, and we both have a ton of respect for their relationship. His dad is very open about the learning process that comes with being married, and I think we have so, so much to learn from them - even more than we already have.

So, while we're not going to have any formal kind of counseling, we have decided to commit to working through a pre-marital book together. I did a little research and found this book (and workbooks) by Les and Leslie Parrott. I really like that they each have professional training, one as a Marriage and Family Therapist, the other in Clinical Psychology, and they also focus on growing together spiritually. I also really like the idea of reading the main book together, and working on the personalized workbooks individually - let's be honest, men and women are different. (If anyone is curious, I got all three books on Amazon for about $30)

I know that reading this book together might not give us the same experience as true counseling, but I believe that it will bring up topics that we might not have thought of already, and give us the opportunity to discuss our feelings and learn to communicate even better. Mr. Coach and I are the ones who are embarking on this journey that is marriage, so I think it's very important than we learn by talking to one another and growing together, rather than being told what to do by someone else.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Anyone else taking a more non-traditional route to counseling?

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