Dear Barb – Pre-Marital Counselling Can Help Build Foundation

Dear Barb:

I will be getting married soon and I’m so scared. I really love my fiancé but so many marriages end in divorce. My parents and my fiancé’s parents are both divorced and we don’t want to end up the same. Is there anything we can do to guarantee that our marriage will work?

Thanks, Terry

Hi, Terry. There are no guarantees in life. You can do everything right, but you can’t control what the other person in the marriage will do.

There are many things you can do to increase the chances that your marriage will succeed, though. A good place to start may be premarital counselling. Counselling can bring out potential problems before they arise. If during counselling a lot of red flags pop up, you may want to reconsider whether you should marry at this time. Pre-marriage counselling is a very effective tool; however, very few couples take advantage of this opportunity.

Experts agree that one of the most important features of any relationship is communication. Without good communication you cannot work through problems as they arise. A lack of effective communication leaves thoughts and feelings unsaid, which may lead to confusion and anxiety for both parties.

Trust is also essential. If there is no trust, accusations and suspicions occur. Infidelity is a major betrayal in marriage. For some people this is an unforgivable act, while for others it is indicative of serious problems in the relationship that may or may not be repairable. Overcoming infidelity is a personal choice and you have to be able to live with the results of your decision. If you choose to continue with the marriage, regaining trust could be very difficult.

Acceptance of each other is vital to a happy marriage. We all have idiosyncrasies and habits that annoy and irritate the other person. A good saying to remember is ?pick your battles?: don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. Most importantly you both must have the ability to compromise. You can’t just think of yourself? marriage is a two-way street, and each person’s needs and desires must be taken into consideration when making any decisions.

On the other hand, there are some things that are ?deal breakers? and cannot be overlooked, including any kind of abuse whether emotional, mental, or physical. Counselling must be sought before this type of behaviour is allowed to escalate and cause harm. Drug and alcohol problems can also push a marital relationship to the brink of failure, but with professional help many people have been able to overcome substance abuse and maintain healthy, strong relationships throughout their lives.

As I said in the beginning there are no guarantees, but if two people truly love each other and are committed to making their marriage work the chances of success are a real possibility, even in this throwaway society. Thanks so much for writing, Terry.

Email your questions to voice@voicemagazine.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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