The holidays are often when couples announce their plans to marry. This is the perfect time to consider premarital counseling. The purpose is not to give answers, but to discuss “what if” scenarios they may not have considered.
“Bob” and “Carol” are living together and plan to marry. They don’t particularly like each other’s families. So we role play “what ifs”: what if his domineering father needs to come live with them when he becomes frail? How will they respond when he tells them a wife should do what the husband says? How will they address the strains this may put on their marriage?
If you are considering marriage premarital counseling can be the recipe for a future together. I am certified in the Prepare/Enrich method, an assessment that reveals where you have differences that you may want to work on now, before you tie the knot.
Anticipating a child leaving home is stressful, so be kind to yourself. And anticipate that your child might be excited one minute and concerned the next. There are two people to take care of here: you, and your child. Helping him or her to be prepared might make you feel better too. (To keep things simple, I'll use "he" or "him", but I mean either.)
There are some basic things your young person needs to know.
By now I hope you have taught him how anticipate and navigate lifes' thornier issues: good work habits, drugs and alcohol, safe sex practices, etc. These are values and practices he has to develop and use on his own.
One other thing: letting go a little at a time is good for you and your son. You’ll both be ok.
Poor communication is overwhelmingly the most common complaint I hear. There are several components of communication you can change.
1. Content: The content of your communication is what you want to talk about. If the content is about a sensitive topic (the other's family; religion; child-rearing; sex or money) pay special attention to the factors below:
2. Timing: If the topic is new, important or sensitive, choose your timing carefully, so your partner can give you his or her full attention. Times to avoid: during the morning dash out the door; right before falling asleep; when electronic devices are on. You might ask "Is now a good time for me to get a few minutes of your attention to discuss _____?"
3. Tone: Avoid sarcasm! Do not yell - speak evenly at moderate volume. Remember also that posture and gestures are the "tone" of body language. Don't point fingers or stand over the person you are speaking to. Instead, sit back in an arms-open position.
4. Phrasing: Choose your words carefully. Talk about YOUR thoughts and feelings. Do not presuppose that you know what your partner thinks or feels. Avoid absolutes ("I never"; "you always"; "no one"; "everyone", etc.) Ask questions (in a non-sarcastic tone) that will invite the other to participate in the discussion. For example: "What are your thoughts on...?" or "Can you help me understand why you feel...?"
5. Listening: We have 2 ears and one mouth. Try to listen more than you talk. Paraphrase back what you hear: "ok, so you think that I ___. Did I understand correctly?" By paraphrasing, the other knows that you listened, took it in, and are treating the discussion seriously.
Remember that changing the way you communicate will take time and practice. Be patient with yourself and others, and give yourself credit for trying!
Setting aside time and money for pre-marital counseling now can can prevent trouble spots later. And counseling is less painful than marital strife.
I will help you examine your expectations of marriage; the roles or duties of each partner; and your goals for the future. Communication, stress, and conflict resolution are critical topics to review. We'll discuss your values and beliefs. We explore your thoughts about secrets, trust, fidelity, and sex. Finances is always important to address. We also discuss your childhood families, and the family you may want to create, and what is important to you about parenting. Your time together, your social life with others, personal time need to be considered. Every day life (chores and work) make up the biggest part of marital time, so we look at those.
Typically, all of this takes at least 4-6 one hour sessions. Planning for your future now can be fun and lays the groundwork for your future together.