7 key areas to consider for marriage
Premarital Counselling Part 1
Premarital Counselling Establishes Strong Foundation for Marriage
To most couples, their wedding day is the sweetest and most joyous day of their life. While preparing for their big day, not many couples would think about issues (for example, their difference in values) that can affect their interaction after marriage, or during the wedding preparations. In recent years, more and more voluntary organisations and private counselling centres offer premarital counselling. As a result, many prospective couples who are serious about marriage are increasingly aware that premarital counselling is the best wedding gift they can give to themselves as it helps them in achieving a fulfilling married life. There are no trivial matters in marriage. Deepening a couple’s understanding of one another before the wedding prepares them for the future and sets the foundation for a good marriage.
Better Understanding of One Another Leads to Joy and Harmony
Before commencing the first pre-marital counselling session, a counsellor will first meet the prospective couple to learn about their background. In the first meeting, the couple will complete a questionnaire. Based on the questionnaire’s results and observations, the counsellor will analyse the couple’s strengths and weaknesses, gaps, communication styles and values. Thereafter, the counsellor will set the direction for their counselling programme. The sessions are set up to explore seven key areas that are important in marriage and can be carried out on a one-to-one basis or with the couple attending them together. The counsellor will use the questionnaire as a platform to initiate conversations and apply counselling techniques to help the couple understand each other better, as well as improve their communications skills.
Counsellor Mendy Kwong says: “The unique feature of premarital counselling is that it allows couples to discuss the vulnerable aspects of their relationship that they typically do not openly talk about. The counsellor will use a non-judging and neutral approach to guide them into opening up, to let them know and understand each other’s thoughts. During the sessions, through interacting and observing one another, a couple gradually become more willing to speak out on what they usually keep to themselves. At the same time, they learn to better read between the lines of what each other says. This helps them better get along well with each other.”
Highlighting Key Points that Need to be Considered
Premarital counselling is more customised for a couple compared to a marriage preparation programme. Mendy says: “I once worked with a couple who thought that they understand each other well. It was only through premarital counselling that they uncovered some major differences between them. Their differences were analysed through the questionnaire and sessions focused on the key issues (derived from the analysis) for both to discuss and get consensus on. The issues include potential problems and differences in views that they have not thought of. Seeing couples smile or share a passionate kiss at the end of each premarital counselling session is most rewarding to me.”
Learn to Communicate Clearly and Listen Attentively
Counsellor Chloe Cheung points out that many couples who have attended premarital counselling said that even after dating for a long time, they have never confided in or have a deep understanding of each other as much as they have during their premarital counselling sessions. “Many couples need to learn good communication skills, i.e., how to express themselves clearly and how to listen attentively. These appear seemingly easy but require guidance and practice. A couple who can communicate well and are open to sharing their thoughts are more likely to be together longer.” Chloe also shares a case of poor communication: “The female client told her boyfriend not to wear clothing that was being hung up to dry, and spoke the words ‘Why are you so lazy?’. Hearing this, her boyfriend got angry immediately…When I met with them, I asked the female client why she did not want him to wear those clothes. She said it was because they might still be damp and she did not want him to feel uncomfortable wearing them. While she had good intentions, they were not apparent to her boyfriend as he only heard the accusation that he was lazy, which angered him and caused him to stop listening to everything else she said.”
A counsellor can professionally guide a couple in effectively and openly speak from the bottom of their heart. Also, he or she can guide them in learning how to listen attentively and understand their partner’s good intentions so that their kind attempts are not in vain. As premarital counselling provides an opportunity for you to openly show your appreciation to your partner through expressing your unspoken feelings and thoughts, it is thus the best wedding gift for him or her.
Seven Key Areas Analysed in a Premarital Counselling Questionnaire
- Communications and conflict management techniques
- Personality compatibility and self-awareness
- Finance management
- Preferences and attitudes towards sex
- Inclination towards having children
- Relationships with both families and changes in respective roles after marriage
- Religion and values…etc.