You might say I came to premarital counseling backwards. I spent 19 years as a divorce lawyer, and worked with approximately a thousand litigants. Then in 1995 I became a divorce mediator, and worked with over a thousand couples. That’s a lot of trauma. In mediation, I worked with couples who had a failed marital relationship, yet wanted to have a successful parental relationship, because they almost always did not want their children to suffer for their failure. We were successful in achieving that goal almost 85% of the time. In fact many times, the couple would say something like “we wish we had learned how to communicate like this before, we wouldn’t be here.”
So when I started my studies to become a Rabbinic Pastor, I told the Dean of the program that after all those divorces, I wanted to help people stay married. And I realized that the best way to do that might just be to do the work with couples before they got married. Premarital counseling helps you identify the differences in your communication styles, develop healthy communication skills, and learn how to distinguish conflicts before they become unresolvable.
In premarital counseling the couple is helped to identify issues that may arise. I would actually say, it is pretty well guaranteed some of those issues will arise. And I would guess, after 2000 divorces, listening carefully to what happened, I have seen all of them. I can sit with you, and help you see areas that may become contentious, and figure out how you will deal with them before they overtake you love and commitment.
And I know, the issues for older people, or for people who have been married before, are different from the issues for people marrying for the first time right out of school. In fact, I have written a manual for clergy to use when doing premarital counseling for this group of people. You can review it here. It is not designed to be used by couples to self manage their premarital counseling. It is important to have the third party neutral to work with you. But even skimming this manual will give you an idea how complicated the issues can get.
So if you are thinking about marriage, or maybe even entering a cohabitation arrangement, contact me so we can open the conversations. No matter your age, your status, it is very important that you aligned about creating your future. Who knows how many of those people might have had successful marriages if they had done the work before they got married.