Premarital counselling calls up a very specific image for most people. You imagine sitting with your fiancé/fiancée in front of a pastor or church mummy who may or may not read out instructions to you from the no-sex before marriage, wives submit to your spouse handbook.

While there are people for whom this message is exactly what they want to hear, this can be alienating for others. The result? Most people opt out of premarital counselling and prefer to wing it as they go. Unfortunately, this choice could come back to haunt them. Because, .’s what nobody tells you about counselling: It does not have to be swallowed as a side dish alongside religion; rather think of it as therapy for couples.

premarital counselling

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Who’s qualified to give couples marriage therapy? Ideally marriage or family therapists, but in the absence of this, the couple could identify mentors who have walked the road to help them, if they are willing to act in that capacity.

Just in case you are wondering what possible areas you’ll need to talk through, .’s a quick list assuming that you have your sex life and finances already figured out:

Effective communication

Yes. It may not seem necessary now, but there’ll be days when you can’t get through to each other because you are on very different pages and walking uncharted territories. Learning how to hit the reset . can be the difference between spiralling out of control or finding balance.

Body changes and personal development

Have you ever tried to imagine what your partner could look like in 10 years. Or the person they could become? No rose tinted glasses can tide you over the real changes life can wrought in a person you love dearly today. Confronting the possibilities with someone who’s been there and done that could be game changing.

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Cheating

Before you have to deal with a full blown ‘edible catering’ situation, it’s important to determine what the boundaries are for each of you with infidelity. Your partner needs to know if emotional affairs are just as bad or worse than actual sexual infidelity.

Spirituality

Again, those rose tinted shades cannot fix the real life ideological wars that can result from being on different pages spiritually. Conversations need to be had about what spirituality means, how much participation it requires of you and where your future children stand.

Children / gender roles

Are you on the same page with the number of children you want? Do you agree on the values you’ll be raising your daughters and sons with? Or how much money you’ll each be bringing to the table?

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The in-laws

You’ll need to talk through what holidays, visits and in-law boundaries mean on both sides of the aisle.

To be honest, sitting through premarital counselling before marriage will not fix every challenge you’ll meet along the way, but these sessions will serve as a very helpful frame of reference. What’s more, they are free, so what do you have to lose.

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