You've seen couples in desperate need of counseling: Those who implement dirty-fighting tactics in drawn-out, drag-down arguments that often lead to the dreaded "D" word. You're not one of them. So as a healthy couple headed toward your wedding day, should you still consider counseling?
The short answer is yes. Because while you may now bicker about nothing bigger than your bedroom TV, "premarital counseling is one of the most effective ways to preemptively address any common issues in marriages before they can become more serious problems," says Alisa Ruby Bash, Malibu-based licensed marriage therapist. Therapy can reveal would-be problems a couple has side-stepped discussing, such as finances, debt, how many children they may want, and how they would raise them, Bash says. "Premarital counseling can help to address a lot of the realties of building a life together, and to begin a great dialogue with open clear communication in a safe space."
Through counseling, healthy couples will also "gain new relationship enhancing and sustaining tools," says Toni Coleman, psychotherapist and relationship coach. Plus, when you arrive conflict-free, you get to experience counseling when your defenses are down, Coleman points out, which often leads to a more positive feeling overall. "This is quite different than when a couple first arrives in the midst of conflict, alienation, or loss of trust and respect," she describes. "They will learn something new about one another, and they will get to talk about issues that they may have only glazed over so far in their relationship."
Finally, Bash challenges you to think of counseling without crisis in this way: "A marriage is a living breathing entity — what you put into it, you get out," she says. "When you treat your marriage like a garden, and nurture it, feed it, and weed it, it will thrive, and grow healthy and strong, nourishing every part of your life. Even when there are not clear issues, therapy can help couples pull out little weeds that they may not have even been aware of before they take root. Even the act of coming to therapy is a way of showing up for your partner for that hour, and doing the routine maintenance necessary to keep everything functioning at its highest level."