Before 'I do': resolve 8 marriage pitfal

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Before 'I do': resolve 8 marriage pitfal
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 9:32pm
Why sign up for counseling BEFORE you have a problem? For the same reason you would take a course before attempting to snowboard -- even if you already know how to ski.

Counseling provides a cushy pillow for the times you will fall down. And even great couples will.

Considering that somewhere in the vicinity of 40 percent of all first marriages end in divorce, taking time to study the blueprints for the marriage structure before breaking ground would seem wise. For those alliances that were doomed from the beginning, there's the possibility to avert a divorce by avoiding an unrealistic marriage. And for those who will speed ahead, there will be the knowledge of the sticky places and some compromise already in place.

We require anyone who wishes to drive to take a course and pass the exam. Yet we assume that emotional connections are instinctive and that having children is easy enough to not need a manual or instruction. Are we nuts? Most of us know about relationships from what we experience around us. For many that is a chaotic or hurtful relationship that ended in disaster during childhood. Pre-marital counseling explores the areas that are predictable crises in a couple's life.

Here are some areas that any love-struck couple should want to discuss and be clear about -- before setting up dates with the band and the caterer.


What are you hoping this marriage will bring? A friend? A sense of belonging? Is it a family? Will you have kids? How many? How will you divide the time between family and career?


How will you resolve an impasse? Do you know the other person's style of communicating? Their stuck places? How is anger dealt with? What if one wants to talk about the relationship and the other refuses? Whose job is it to keep the lines open? If you get really bogged down - will you go for help?


Where do they fit in the scheme of your life? How much time will spend with them? What about friends that the other dislikes? Are they welcome ? Boys' night out, girls' night out? Confiding in friends, helping them out -- what are the boundaries?


What's the philosophy about money? Who decides where it is spent? Does each of you have discretionary cash? What if there's a great job offer 2000 miles away? How will you pay the bills and apportion the income? How much to save?

In-laws and family

What is their role? Who will call them to keep in touch? Are one or both of you going to have to help out a parent? How will you do that ( see Money). What if there is a disagreement or feud?


If there isn't enough of it, how will you deal with the feeling? Birth control? Attractions to other people? What if sex becomes boring?


What is your philosophy around bringing up children? Punishment and consequences? Who will care-take them? How many? What if there is a child who has mental or physical problems?


Can you both respect each other's beliefs even if they are different? If there are children, how will you deal with this issue? How will you handle your respective families around religion? Do you have any opposing beliefs?

If this seems like an exhausting task, think how tiring it is to run around to lawyers and fill out separation papers. If you know the inner workings of the mind you plan to snuggle up to for the rest of your life, there will be fewer surprises and more time to enjoy each other's company.

Counseling provides a template for conflict resolution that can be drawn on when needed. A couple that knows how to fight fairly and how to compromise is going to have a head start on a couple that makes up the rules along the way. You'd spend the time and money to ensure a satisfying Caribbean cruise -- why not invest the same energy into a much more precious adventure?

By Rhona Raskin

"Ignoring the facts
does not change the facts"