Counselling Key Areas

1. Conflict Resolution Component

One of the most important areas to focus on in marriage counselling is how to handle arguments in the relationship. Handling arguments is not only confined to marriage but it is in everyday life. Arguments are most harmful if they occur between you and the one you care about the most. Determine how you can effectively end arguments in your marriage before they turn into a Cold War or full blood. It is never a shame to ask for advice and training on ways to improve your conflict resolution skills.

Brainstorm Nuggets

  • What has helped us end fights so far?
  • What habits, actions, or hot-button issues make our fights last longer than they should?
  • What are my spouse biggest annoyances?
  • What are our no-tolerance conflicts? Example: insults to my parents, infidelity, abuse, violence, alcoholism, drug use, etc.
  • What repercussions can we agree to if a no-tolerance conflict occurs? (Having preset “consequences” is a crucial step in divorce prevention)

2. Core Values Component

Have you ever really sat down and discussed your values with your fiancé? For a lot of couples, values are implied or assumed, not talked about. You may have a general idea of what your future spouse stands for, but it would be in your best interest to openly chat about these ideals before you get married. This will give you a chance to cooperate and come together about values you may want to instil in your future children, should you choose to start a family. If you have vastly different core values, you can work together on a compromise before they cause fights down the line.

Brainstorm Nuggets

  • What are your core values?
  • Where do your values come from? Example: Past experiences, instilled family values, religion, etc.
  • Do we have the same values in life?
  • What are the most important values we want to uphold as a couple?
  • How will our values impact our abilities to start a family and raise children in the future?

Having examined the importance of core values and conflict resolution in our marital counselling sessions, we move on to another crucial discussion of Financial Decisions.

3. Financial Component

Finances are considered the biggest killer of marriages in the West. When couples cannot come to a decision about how to earn, spend, or save their money, they struggle to work together as a team. If you and your fiancé do not live together yet, you may not share any of your financial accounts. You need to talk about how your finances will be set up so you can avoid debt, overspending, and longstanding arguments.

Brainstorm Nuggets

Be open to answer the following Poignant Questions

Where do our finances stand right now? Example: Retirement savings, debt, account balances, etc.)

  • Will we combine our incomes or keep them separate?
  • What will our monthly budgetlook like, including bills and personal expenses?
  • Who will earn money in our relationship?
  • Who is responsible for paying the bills, or how will we split the bill payments?
  • How much money should we put aside for emergency funds, college funds, personal savings, and more?

4. Career Component

As a single person, you can go wherever your career takes you. If that means that you need to move for a better job opportunity, you can do that – no strings attached. In a marriage though, career moves have to be discussed as a family. Your new career may have a profound impact on your relationship dynamic, your location, your time with your spouse, and more. It is important to talk about these issues so you can make sound decisions with your spouse.

Brainstorm Nuggets

  • Can I defer my career plans for now to advance my spouse’s interest?
  • Which one of us will work? It is a decision you need to come to amicably. You may both keep your jobs, or one may stay home to take care of the household and the children
  • What are our individual career goals? Example: Moving up the corporate ladder, taking on a second job, going back to school, and these are only few examples.
  • How do our career goals impact one another?
  • Do we plan to change careers, and how will those changes affect our relationship?
  • Can we adjust our work schedules to spend more time together as a family?

Stop for a moment and think about your biggest insecurities, fears, concerns, and struggles that you are facing in your your current relationship. Addressing these issues early on will create a solid foundation for your marriage that will ultimately keep your relationship strong.

5. Family size Component

Many couples choose to have children after they get married, but that is not always the case because for some reasons one or both spouses might be bringing into the relationship a child or even children. You will need to discuss this with your future spouse in advance to make sure you have the same family goals. Even if you already have children (as a couple or separately), you need to decide if you want to have more kids in the future. You can always change your mind, but this gives you a good starting point to build from.

Brainstorm Nuggets

  • Do we want to have children in the future?
  • How long will we wait to have kids?
  • How many children would we like to have?
  • How will children impact our careers? Example: Someone may stop working to take care of the children
  • What core values will we instil in our children?
  • If we cannot have children of our own, do we plan to adopt or pursue fertility treatments?
  • If we do not want children, what will we do to prevent pregnancy? Example: Birth control, abstinence, preventative medical procedures, etc.

6. Inlaws Component

Your family planning shouldn’t stop at the discussion of children. You also need to talk about how your relationships will work with your existing families. Of course, this is easier to manage if you both get along with each other’s families and if your families get along with one another. If there are complications with your future in-laws though, you may want to go through counselling targeted at families so that you can work out your issues before your big day.

Brainstorm Nuggets

  • How often will we visit our families?
  • How will we split up our time during holidays?
  • How can we resolve current issues with our families?
  • Do we plan to take family vacations? (In this case, we are referring to vacations with extended family members, not your children)
  • What can we do to minimise fighting between our families?
  • Are there any unspoken issues we have with each other’s families?

In our comprehensive guide to premarital counselling, we have been looking over important issues to talk about during your counselling sessions. So far, we have explored subjects related to finances, family, conflict resolution, and personal values. In this part of the guide, we will explore even more conversation points you can use a basis for building on your future life together with the one you have chosen.

7. Intimacy Component

What you consider to be romantic to you might not be romantic to other person, which can cause intimacy problems. Intimacy is a difficult topic for some couples to discuss, especially if they are not sexually active prior to getting married. If one of you is more “experienced” than the other with regards to intimacy and romance, you may want to get your concerns, insecurities, and frustrations out before they turn into big fights later on. Our open-minded counselling sessions will help you through what may feel like an embarrassing conversation and help you reach a resolution point.

Brainstorm Nuggets

  • Is there enough romance in our current relationship?
  • What can we do to keep the romance alive?
  • Are we happy with the amount of intimacy we have in our relationship, or do we want more after we get married?
  • Do we connect well on an intimate level? NOTE: This could just mean kissing, holding hands, going out on dates, etc.
  • What concerns do we have about each other’s previous relationships?

8. Previous Connections and Relationships

You may have longstanding friendships that have been around much longer than your relationship with your fiancé. In that case, you need to make sure that your social life and your marital life balance each other out. If you have mutual friends, you should discuss how you will interact with them once you are married – especially in the case of friends of the opposite sex.

Don’t forget about your online interactions as well! Social media has a potential to harm and decimate your marriage if it is left without boundaries. Social media can reignite long forgotten relationships.

Brainstorm Nuggets

  • How often will we spend time with our friends separately?
  • How often will we spend time with friends as a couple?
  • What do we do if we don’t like each other’s friends?
  • How can we divide up “us time” and “their time”?
  • Should we make new friends as a couple? If so, how?
  • Are there any friends in our lives that may be a bad influence on our marriage?

9. Faith Component

If you met at church or share the same religious upbringing, you may not have much to discuss with regards to your faith. Nevertheless, it is important for both you and your fiancé to have a clear understanding of your belief structures. This is especially true for couples with different religious backgrounds, like Christian and Jewish, Catholic and Atheist…etc. Make sure you are aware of each other’s religious values, and try to establish a mutual belief system to share as a couple.

Brainstorm Nuggets

  • What are our individual or shared religious beliefs?
  • Do we plan to attend religious services after marriage?
  • How can we combine our religious traditions or keep our separate beliefs from interfering with one another?
  • What religious ideals will we teach our children?
  • How will our religious practices impact our day to day lives?
  • Will we seek out faith-based couples therapy in the future to solve problems in our marriage?

10. Household Chores Component

The last thing you want to get into is a marriage that feels “unbalanced.” Whether you have a traditional stay at home spouse or you both work, you need to decide how you will handle household chores. If you already live together, you may have a system in place for cleaning duties and other responsibilities.

Brainstorm Nuggets

  • How will we split up the chores?
  • Are there any chores that one of us will have to do no matter what? Example: One spouse cleans the bathroom because the other cannot handle the odours from the cleaning chemicals
  • If only one of us is working, will he or she still have household chores?
  • Should we alternate our household duties?
  • Who will cook and prepare meals?
  • Do we plan to keep our home spotless? If so, how can we accomplish that?

Work with your spouse to resolve your issues before you walk down the aisle, and you will be on your way to a lifetime of marital bliss.

11. International Parenting

Children are like arrows in the hands of a mighty warrior. How far you shoot the arrows is dependant on the skill of the warrior called the parent. Therefore you need to agree on how to raise your children, the measures of discipline you will employ have to be agreed upon and make sure none of you undermines the other.