Look for these signs of a relationship that's not ready to walk down the aisle.
If you are engaged and planning on getting married, you may have thought about premarital counseling. My view of premarital counseling is that it can be helpful in some way for most couples planning on saying “I do.” You wouldn’t fly a plane without flying lessons, because you need to learn the skills and safety required for navigating in the air. Similarly, premarital counseling can teach you how to handle turbulance and all the working parts of your relationship. Premarital counseling sessions are about helping couples learn the rules of communication, explore marriage expectations, and discuss strategy plans for the future. Most premarital therapy is used as a preventative tool -- think of it as a way to give your relationship a solid foundation before walking into the married world.
In addition to getting premarital counseling as a way to build a strong foundation, if you recognize any of the following issues in your relationship, couples counseling is a good idea before tying the knot.
Start Marriage on the Right Foot
You've said "yes" and you both want to take the best steps to planning your new life together. Premarital counseling can help build that foundation to building a healthy and long lasting love. The desire to be successful may be all that you need to know that premarital counseling is right for you. The more proactive couples are in a relationship, the better the results. Marriage and Family Therapists specialize in relationships and building a solid connection through communication and creating a secure attachment.
Your Partner Wants Couples Counseling
If your partner suggests counseling, this is a sign that things haven't quite been corrected in the relationship. People don't suggest working with a professional when the relationship has a solid connection. It is very common that one partner cries out for help and the other person completely misses the critical issue until years later once the relationship has become entirely unraveled. Take the suggestion of counseling seriously when your partner brings it up -- it's better to address your issues BEFORE you get married, so don't simply blow off the suggestion of premarital counseling.
The Sex Has Stopped
One of the signs that a relationship is dwindling is a lack of intimacy in the bedroom. In a secure relationships, both emotional closeness and sexual closeness keep things balanced. Intimacy can go in waves through the years, but if there is an ongoing drought that lasts months or years, this is a sign to seek professional help. If you are planning on waiting for sex until you are married, premarital counseling can be a safe place to talk about your expectations when you do get married and start having sex.
You Feel Relationship Burn Out
Going from completely engaged and seeking closeness to a completely "burnt-out" position is a danger zone. When this happens, you haven't given up on the relationship, yet you are unwilling to expose any vulnerable needs or to rely on your partner. This is a sign that things have been changing and you could be going down a dangerous road, headed towards complete disconnection. This is a critical time for couples to seek counseling and get both people to engage in the relationship, especially since you are about to get married!
This may be a no brainer for some people, but affairs are signs that premarital counseling is needed. Whether the affair was just revealed, or you are active in the affair, it is critical to understand why this happened in the first place and heal any emotional injuries. Many couples think that they can simply lock up the past, say "I am sorry," and move on. In reality, affairs are very fragile situations where the repair work is critical and must handled in a healing way. Every second counts when rebuilding trust and regaining the security in a relationship. Moving on doesn't mean shutting the door to pain, but it also doesn't mean you relive the pain over and over. Seeking counseling helps couples handle the fears and emotions that arise in the present and take action to create a long term resolution.
You Seek Outside Comfort
When either you or your partner quickly go to friends or family before turning to the relationship, you should seek counseling. When we no longer turn to one another to resolve issues and instead turn to others for support, a wedge is created in the relationship. Sometimes it becomes easier and easier to turn to others and this can quickly snow ball into a drawn out relationship that dissolves over time. You need to learn to work together so that when you are officially a married couple, you can truly work together as a team instead of starting out on the wrong foot.
You Have Feelings For Someone Else
Thoughts can be thoughts and simply just that. But other times a fantasy leads us to an exciting place where it would be easy to cross the line if the opportunity arises. It is vital to get at the heart of why you get so excited when your co-worker sends you a text, or a friend calls you. If your relationship was solid and secure you wouldn’t consider being with someone else. Something significant is going on, and things are lacking in your current relationship. Start couples counseling to figure out what you aren't getting in the relationship and give your partner an opportunity to get it right with you before it is too late.
Arguments are Heated
When fights continue to go to bad places, either verbally or physically, couples counseling is essential. The more attacks you take at one another, the more you drive each other way and develop a bad habit when it comes to communication. Any time the relationship becomes degrading or hurtful, it is time to seek some expert advice on how to stop the damage and to the relationship.
If you recognize any of these problems in your relationship before you get married, you NEED to get back on track before going through with the wedding. If there are serious cracks in the foundation of your relationship now, they won't get magically fixed by walking down the aisle. Seek out premarital counseling so you can learn better communication and built trust and a secure bond in the relationship now. Think of premarital counseling as an investment in your marriage.