Your Couples Specialist:

Why Premarital Counseling Is Essential

Every couple, as they head toward marriage, hopes their future together will be loving, fulfilling, trusting and secure. You are so in love --nothing could get in the way, right?

Yet, what if, before you say your vows, you could learn:

  • The most important factors that keep a marriage strong
  • A new, deeper understanding of each other that could help you better handle life's inevitable challenges
  • To understand the major factors that could threaten your marriage
  • A proven way to learn to communicate and to work through differences and difficulties
  • To understand how to handle important transitions, such as when the first child arrives
  • To better manage the challenges of a second marriage, including step-parenting

And, most importantly, what if you could learn the answers to these important issues from the most effective marriage counseling approach that's based on science and supported by years of research? My approach to premarital counseling uses the Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy model and walks you through the essential components of establishing and sustaining a healthy marriage.

"Preventive Medicine" for Your Marriage

Couples typically come to me when their relationship is in distress. As we work through their concerns, it's not uncommon for couples to say, "Gee, we wish we knew all this earlier!"

You can learn to resolve concerns early and keep your love strong.

However, wise couples heading toward marriage can learn in premarital counseling to prevent distress and how to resolve differences and concerns before the relationship heads into troubled waters.

The fact is, no one "teaches" us how to be in a happy, healthy relationship. We may have been fortunate to witness our parents' marriage that was close, connected, loving and supportive. Or, we may have experienced their marriage as distant, argumentative and fragile. Those experiences actually become part of how we see the world -- and how we may act in our own adult relationships.

This isn't to say our parents did not give us good values and modeled other fine qualities. We can, however, learn how we may be unconsciously carrying forward what we learned in our 18 to 20 years with our family of origin. This is not about "blaming" our parents; rather, we learn to more deeply understand our hidden expectations and beliefs that can impact the upcoming marriage if not understood and brought into our awareness.

Marriage Makes a Difference in Your Relationship

It's often the case that couples who encountered minor, but unresolved difficulties prior to marriage find themselves in greater conflict after they've said their vows.

The new level of commitment that occurs with marriage can bring with it hidden expectations of which you or your partner may not be aware. We often have a hidden picture of what married life should be, and when these ideals aren't a reality, hurt and disappointment can evolve. Small issues you felt were unimportant prior to marriage now can surface as bigger and more significant.

Premarital counseling using Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy can bring to the surface these unconscious expectations so they can be understood, discussed and resolved prior to marriage.

Second marriages

Complexities can abound when one or both of you is entering into a second or subsequent marriage. Even more so when there are children.

Couples often fail to fully discuss and resolve how they will parent the children in the household, how they will cope with difficult co-parenting situations with the other biological parent and understanding each other's perspectives on setting boundaries and discipline with children.

Importantly, there often can be leftover feelings and hurt from previous relationships that are unconsciously carried into the upcoming marriage. It's not uncommon that one or both partners is struggling to see this new relationship in a fresh light -- and letting go of serious wounds from the past.

What You'll Learn in Premarital Counseling

Most couples believe that "good communication" lies at the heart of a happy marriage. Yes, communication is vital -- but the true core of success lies much deeper.

Premarital counseling includes:

  1. Attachment styles – Yours and Your Partner's

    Often, the key to discontent in a relationship lies in failure to understand your own and your partner's "attachment style." This research-based concept opens the doors to much greater understanding of the dynamics between you. There are three main attachment styles: Secure, Anxious and Avoidant. Some people have traits in more than one style, and their style may vary with the situation.

    Secure individuals easily turn to their partner for comfort and are able to offer comfort and support easily. An anxious person may appear clingy and controlling. The avoidant partner often shuts down in the face of disagreements or uncomfortable conversations.

    As we bring to the surface each person's attachment style, we open the door to greater understanding of your own style and that of your partner. In the counseling process, you'll gain greater insight into the "whys" of your style and how you can help each other begin to feel more secure.

  2. The Power of Emotions

    Couples often are surprised by the heightened emotions that appear in their relationship, particularly when one or both is upset.

    In premarital counseling, you'll learn why the bond you formed when you fell in love is so intense and powerful. You'll learn what occurs in your brain when you feel uncertain or fearful about your relationship.

    Importantly, you'll learn how to calm your emotions to be able to talk through important issues that have emerged.

  3. Talking About Sex

    For some couples, discussing intimacy concerns happens easily. For many couples, though, talking about sex with each other is uncomfortable.

    In premarital counseling, you'll learn to increase your comfort in talking about sex so that any future concerns can be resolved before they become a source of discord.

  4. Maintaining closeness.

    Never has it been more challenging for couples to maintain their close connection. While building a career, there often is an expectation by today's employers of 24/7 availability. Long work hours and business travel are often part of growing a professional reputation.

    Additionally, we've become very attached to our "screens": phones, tablets, email, texting. We've found it hard to turn "off" our availability and focus on our partner.

    In premarital counseling, you'll learn how to develop "rituals" of maintaining closeness. A ritual is each couple's unique way of staying connected -- whether it's a nightly time to talk, date nights, weekends away just the two of you.

My Approach

My premarital counseling process employs the key elements of the acclaimed Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, which we call EFT. This amazing method is the most-researched and most-effective way of helping couples be successful.

You have the opportunity to understand the major obstacles to long-term happiness as well as to more deeply understand yourself and your partner and how you each interact in the relationship. You'll learn how to use this new awareness to improve handling areas of differences, to resolve important issues and to maintain a healthy, loving connection.

Linda Schwartz is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works exclusively with couples and individuals on relationship issues. She uses Emotionally Focused Couple therapy, the most effective approach to helping couples recapture their close connection, to learn to resolve issues through deepening their understanding of each other's needs and to heal infidelity and any past hurts in the relationship. Linda offers a free, 15-minute phone consultation to answer your questions about the counseling process. She can be reached at (602) 882-0533 or .

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Couples heading toward marriage can learn in premarital counseling how to resolve differences and concerns before the relationship heads into troubled waters."

Linda Schwartz, Couples Counseling