Pre-marital Counseling or Wedding Planning?

Our Relationship History

A brief history on my husband Anthony and I. We met when I was a sophomore in high school and he was a junior. We dated on and off throughout high school; we got back together after I graduated high school and have been together ever since.

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We got pregnant with our daughter when I was 19 and roughly 2 months after us finding out, he saved money to get us our own apartment. We were both living with our parents at the time.

This would be our first time ever living away from home and with each other. After we moved in together it was an emotional rollercoaster for our relationship.

There was so much we didn’t know about each other, ourselves, parenting, and more. Our behaviors showed it.

We got engaged when I was about 6 months pregnant. Even after the engagement, things were still rough for the next 4 years until we officially decided on a wedding date.

I never wanted to get married at a young age because I knew we weren’t ready, but I knew I wanted to marry him.

Over those 4 years we went through a lot! Break ups, makes up, and unnecessarily hurting each other. It was so much drama, to say the least.

Of course the entire time together wasn’t all drama. We truly loved each other and wanted to be together during that time, but we both had a lot of growing up to do if we were going to make it work.

On February 15th, 2015, we made a decision to be together and stay together. We agreed that our daughter was starting to get too old for instability in our relationship and that even though we had the “temptation” of wanting to be with other people, we knew that we wanted to be with each other more. We didn’t want to see either of us with anyone else and honestly, neither one of us could stand the thought of ANYONE being a “step parent” to our daughter.

That day, we decided to get married on March 27th, 2015!

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Then Comes Marriage

Although we made the decision to get married and we knew that was the next step in our relationship, we also knew that there was a lot we still didn’t know about marriage. We had caused each other a lot of pain over the past few years and we needed to heal. But we both agreed that our marriage was going to last a lifetime and in order to make sure that happened, we needed to learn from people who have had a successful marriage.

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These Stats Are Scary

  • 42-45% percent of first marriages end in divorce.
  • The average length of a first marriage that ends in divorce is 8 years.
  • People are more likely to divorce the younger they were when they got married or moved in with their future spouse.

These are just some of the intimidating statistics on the success rate of marriage. Plus, we all already have shaped and formed our fears about marriage by the time we are adults.

Wedding Planning

Neither one of us wanted a big expensive wedding to begin with. This was partially because we knew we couldn’t afford it, we only had 5 weeks to plan, and we knew where our focus needed to be.

So, we decided to get married at the courthouse and have a small reception with our close family and friends.

We were very fortunate to have family in our corner that came together for the planning at such short notice. Each family member had their job, from decorations, food, candy, buffet, DJ, etc.

I’m also not a detailed oriented person when it comes to party planning, so I was an easy bride to deal with.

Premarital Counseling

We knew that the wedding itself and party were important and something we both wanted. We also agreed that after all the celebrating, we wanted our union to last and we knew that we couldn’t figure it out on our own.

We decided to have counseling with a married couple who had supported us from the beginning; we looked up to them and hoped to have something similar to what they had.

We chose Anthony’s aunt and uncle. If I remember correctly, we had two sessions a week through Facetime because they lived out of state. We continued our sessions up until it was time for our wedding.

How It Helped

Counseling helped us in so many ways:

  • We came to an agreement of what our roles would be as husband and wife.
  • We discussed topics we would have never discussed.
  • We got an understanding of our behaviors that were unhealthy for our marriage and how to change them.
  • We learned how to communicate.
  • We held each other accountable for applying the things we were learning.

Counseling gave us the foundation we needed to build on our marriage in ways I didn’t even imagine.

Premarital Counseling or Wedding Planning?

I would recommend doing both! If you are dead set on the wedding of your dreams and can afford it, why not? Celebrate your love with the people who mean the most to you and have a good time.

I’m not against big weddings, nor do I try to convince people to have a small wedding like mine.

Do what makes you and your future spouse happy.

But just like you are dead set on the wedding of your dreams, you should keep that same energy for the marriage of your dreams.

We spend so much time, money, and energy on the planning of a wedding and neglect building the foundation we plan to build our marriages on.

I understand the idea of a super nice and expensive wedding is what a lot of women dreamt of when they were young girls. I know I did.

But I know for a lot us, those dreams will not likely become a reality. Even if we can make it a reality, does that mean we should? Do we need to go broke, trying to impress and entertain family and friends? Do we really need to go over the top to express and share our love for one another in the way that weddings do these days? Probably not.

Finding a Counselor

We did our counseling with people we knew and trusted and felt comfortable with. Y’all know I have to be honest, they were FREE as well.

So if you are looking for a counselor and can’t afford someone with a degree or who is certified, you can find a couple that goes to your church, in your community, family, or close friends (older in age).

Depending on the insurance you have, you may be able to find an affordable counselor.

If you are still unable to find a couple or counselor to complete counseling with, don’t give up, there’s always one last option. Books! Find some good relationship books that can help or at least start the counseling process.

Books may be all some couples need and for some, not so much. If you both realize that talking to a professional or couple is your best option, don’t stop searching until you have found one.

From my experience, I think finding a couple who can counsel you is more beneficial because they will provide both male and female perspectives and advice. It also allows both partners to feel like they are in an environment where they are both understood.

In our sessions, we were also able to receive advice from the opposite sex about what we can do or not do to make our significant other happy.

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Make This a Priority

I understand how exciting wedding planning can be, but it’s time for us to focus more on preparing for a lifetime, rather than for just one night.

Just like it’s a priority to find a DJ, the perfect dress, venue, floral arrangements and so on, make it a priority to focus on the growth and improvement of your relationship.

This does not mean that people who get married and don’t go to marriage counseling won’t last. Or if you do go to premarital counseling, your marriage will last.

Counseling does increase the chances of the success of your marriage. On the other hand, it may just show the both you that maybe, just MAYBE, y’all need to call it quits before a lot of money and time is wasted on a relationship that is destined to fail.

Questions of the Week:

Did you have premarital counseling? How did it or did not help you?

Are you open to premarital counseling?

Is premarital counseling important to you? Why, or why not?

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