When I was first married the minister who was to marry us required that we attend a couple of “before marriage” counseling sessions. We dutifully went to these sessions and although I had great respect for our minister, the sessions brushed lightly over three topics (the top three reasons for divorce). They were; (1) sexual adjustment (2) money issues and (3) in-law relations. Nothing much was uncovered during these sessions, we were married and 12 years later divorced. The divorce had very little to do with any of the three topics.
But that’s not to say that these three were not causes for divorcing couples. Many times divorces’ themes are found within these areas but for me, as a therapist, the most important thing to look at in the pre-marital counseling session is communication. No matter what other issues divide a couple, the ability to talk to each other in a non-destructive way holds the key to creating a healthy relationship. Now it can happen that a couple in love and committed to each other can enter the relationship without the skills necessary to navigate through their differences, no matter how convinced they are that their affection for one another will see them through. There are several skill sets that couple can successfully learn but first, they have to realize there are some deficits (as well as strengths!) to they can bring there attention to bear on them.
Pre-marital counseling is often very revealing and can highlight areas of strengths as well as areas needing more practice and attention. Entering into some counseling sessions with someone experienced in relationships can often start off a relationship in a positive direction. It’s time and money well-spent.