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Is premarital counselling really necessary?

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Posted on: 01/08/18

“Marriage is not to be entered into lightly or without advice; that advice is the premarital counselling. As a rule, I don't embark on performing a ceremony until I am assured that some form of premarital preparation has taken place,” Dr Dunbar stated.

“When two people of diverse backgrounds come together to live in holy matrimony, there is much that they would have to compromise if they intend to live happily ever after, so premarital counselling is necessary to discuss these things prior to the union,” Powell added.

Dr Dunbar said the couple will have to work as a unit to make the marriage happy, and that takes an awareness that is strengthened by counselling preparation.

“Certainly it does not eliminate the challenges that a couple may face... but it does help in better enabling them to deal with marital issues and challenges,” she said.

For several of the couples with whom All Woman spoke, premarital counselling was necessary to help them overcome some inevitable marital challenges.

“It brought up everything we never had time to speak about or were afraid to speak about — like children, how we would manage our bills, in-laws, division of labour...This really made us think and talk stuff through,” said Francis Davis, who has been married for two years.

Added Thomas Hanchard, married six years: “It made sure my wife and I were on the same wavelength, and we did not talk about just reasons for marriage, but practical stuff like finances, children and other things that got omitted because we were not ready to talk about those things. The sessions, however, did not help to resolve quarrels or disagreements. That came with learning to compromise.”

Kaydian Livermore, who has been married for 10 years, said she had trouble adjusting in the first year, and the lessons from her premarital counselling sessions helped.

“Many times I felt like moving back home after fights, but the sessions we had reminded me that it's a team effort — it takes a lot of tongue-biting, compromising, turning the other cheek figuratively, and really trying to work things out. Now some things are like second nature.”

Said Ruth Perkins, married for 12 years: “One main piece of advice that has assisted with the growth and development of our marriage is to never let your spouse make assumptions. Always be honest and open when communicating, no matter how minute you think the issue may be.”

For Dane Dennis, now divorced, he says he thinks premarital counselling is necessary, but couples should be wise about who they choose to lead them through that period.

“The guy I did counselling with was a close family friend and it was more sitting down, talking and catching up on old stories, and at the end we prayed. He gave us a book to read which had exercises in it. We read first two, then three chapters, and stopped after a while. He is a good pastor, was a second father to me, and I don't know how he integrated with other couples, but I went knowing he was a family friend. In retrospect, [I would say] get someone who is unbiased and who doesn't know you,” he said.

There were also a few people who did not go to counselling and wished they had, and others who didn't and are doing just fine.

“My counsellor said we were not meant for each other, and my husband and I, now married for 15 years, never went back,” said Kelly-Ann Leverton. “No remorse; we simply learnt to deal with things.”

Marsha-Gaye Smythe and her partner, having already lived together, didn't seek counselling — something she regrets.

“We were living together, shared a child, and so we just did a quick ceremony. After the marriage my husband changed and started demanding that I don't go out, don't go to church, and it became too much. We sought counselling then, and that's when I realised that had I done premarital counselling, it would have saved me the mighty cost of a divorce.”

Said Deana Myers: “Luckily our lack of counselling didn't lead to a divorce and we are now married six years and doing much better, but had we gone to counselling it would have certainly prepared us for the challenges, the serious challenges we faced.”

Powell said most of the challenges new couples face are things discussed in the premarital sessions, hence the importance of going.

He said that according to noted Jamaican family and marriage therapist Dr Barry Davidson, the most difficult areas of marital adjustment are sexual adjustment, the handling of finances, unresolved conflicts during courtships, differences in religious values or beliefs, problems in getting along with in-laws, and poor communication skills.

“These are all things that are presented in premarital counselling sessions, so couples can begin to figure out solutions before they are married, and when the issues do arise they would have had previous guidance to help them,” he said.Read more at:formal wear | bridesmaid dresses australia

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