Create a Marriage That Lasts
Are you planning a wedding? Then be sure to plan for a marriage as well – great marriages don’t just happen; you need to plan for them.
Congratulations! You just got engaged, or are about to and you are now lost in the euphoria of planning for the big day. Picking out the perfect dress, the flowers, the venue, the bridesmaids dresses, the cake, your hairstyle, makeup and nails. Let’s not forget the save the dates, invitations, photographer, videographer, the engagement party, the bachelor and bachelorette parties and of course the honeymoon!
We could go on and on because planning weddings can be very involved. It is, after all, a big event. It is a celebration of two people who are telling the world that they are in love and choose each other above all else.
Great marriages don’t just happen, you need to plan
However, what no one ever stops and advises us to do is to plan for our marriage. Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, a marriage and a wedding are two very different things.
A wedding refers to the celebration part of the big day, such as the ceremony, the reception and everything else that goes with it. Your marriage is the relationship you share with your partner and that begins after the wedding.
A wedding will last a day or even a weekend, however, your marriage is intended to last a lifetime.
With the average wedding costing between $33,000-$62,000, it’s important to invest as much effort into the marriage as you do into planning the wedding.
With the divorce rate as high as it is, I believe that premarital counseling is the first step in divorce prevention.
The premarital course is designed for couples who are preparing for marriage or are at an early stage in their relationship. This course is educational and is not meant to be psychotherapy.
The premarital course is based on Dr. John Gottman’s research-based method for making relationships work. Dr. Gottman’s 40 years of research has included studies on marriage, transition to parenthood, parenting, and child development.
The Pre-Marital Course includes the following:
- 1 – 60 minute Assessment Session
- 1 – 90 minute Feedback Session
- 3 – 60 minute Skill Building Sessions
During this session we will discuss how each of you currently view your relationship as well as your history together. You will also be asked to complete the Gottman assessment online before our next session. This assessment is intended to identify the unique strengths and potential growth areas in your relationship. This will enable me to gain a clear picture of where each of you feel you are at in the relationship and be able to provide a personalized plan for you. This will allow for the time to be focused exactly where you need it for maximum impact on your relationship.
During the feedback session we will go over the Gottman assessment. You will learn about Dr. John Gottman’s seven levels of the Sound Relationship House and how each level builds to a successful relationship. You will also learn about the three communication styles that Dr. Gottman identified. We will then discuss your relationship and how it fits into the Sound Relationship House as well as your communication style. I will then give you an overview of the next three skill building sessions. You will be confident in knowing you have a plan of action and are learning tools to help you build the marriage you have always wanted.
Your assessments will allow me to identify what is working well in your relationship and where we should devote more of our time. Based on this input and input from the feedback session, I will select skill building exercises specifically for you as a couple. Below you can review a sample of Gottman’s skill building exercises.
A Sample of Skill Building Exercises:
Below is a sample of skill building exercises from the Gottman library. These exercises are designed to strengthen the seven levels of the Sound Relationship House and help couples build a strong bond, a deeper connection, healthy communication and keep fun, playfulness, passion and sex in their marriage.
The purpose of the Stress-Reducing Conversation is to help couples navigate the daily external stress that will inevitably come up such as work-related stress. The research has shown that buffering your relationship from such external stress is very important to keeping your home peaceful. By learning how to have this soothing conversation and incorporating it into your daily lives, adds to each-other’s emotional bank accounts by giving support and sharing emotions.
The need to compromise typically arises out of a perpetual conflict. If you find that you often fight with your partner about the same issue(s), don’t worry it’s completely normal. Dr. Gottman’s research shows that 69% of all conflicts couples have are perpetual, meaning that the recurring argument you seem to be have today, will be the same argument you are having in five years. This is why it is very important for couples to learn how to compromise. During this exercise you will both learn the art of compromising and how to identify the core areas that you are inflexible on, as well as the areas that you are willing to bend on. You will learn how to discuss your common ground rather than getting gridlocked and not budging.
Dreams Within Conflict:
When couples repeatedly argue about an issue and cannot or are not willing to compromise, it is typically because the issue is very meaningful to them. Therefore, it is important to uncover and understand the meaning of each person’s position in the conflict. In this exercise you will learn how to uncover the dreams that underlie each person’s entrenchment in an uncompromising position. This means that in each of your positions there are metaphors, stories, hopes and dreams. This exercise works hand in hand with learning to compromise.
Aftermath of a Fight or Regrettable Incident:
During this exercise you will learn to process and evaluate what happened during the last argument you had with each-other. This exercise will allow you to increase understanding between you and your partner. It will help you have a second conversation that is more productive than the argument you had. All couples have fights. However, if you do not learn to repair negative interactions resentment will build between you.
Create Rituals of Connection:
In order to be intentional about our family, it is important to emphasize rituals of connection. When we build in meaningful rituals of connection for informal events (such as family meals, bedtimes, parties) and formal events (such as birthdays, anniversaries) and holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Passover, Ramadan) everyone knows who is doing what where, how the ritual begins and continues and so that everyone is excited. During this exercise you will choose a ritual of connection that you want to establish for yourselves. You will discuss what will be meaningful about this ritual for each of you, when it will be done and how it will be done.
Negotiating Power: Who Does What?:
Often times after couples get married, they have expectations as to who is supposed to be responsible for what in the house. Most couples do not have a conversation surrounding this and often make assumptions as to who will be responsible for what. This exercise provides you with a pro-active way to talk about “who does what” around the household and with kids if you have them, or are planning to have them. You will both have a chance to choose from a list of activities and to discuss in a positive way what your ideal would be.
Gott Sex – Love Maps:
Dr. Gottman’s research shows that most couple’s struggle when it comes to talking about sex. The Gott Sex series was designed to help couples feel more comfortable talking about sex. During the Sex Love Map exercise, you will build your knowledge of your partner’s sexuality by asking them questions (from a list of suggestions) about their inner sexual world – what they like and don’t like etc.
**The pre-marital course is educational and skills based in nature and not for couples who are experiencing domestic violence or who are in crisis.