Marriage has a profound cultural significance in USA, and it is that much more powerful and affirming for same-sex couples. After centuries of persecution and marginalization our equality was finally legally acknowledged and the unattainable dream many of us shared - marrying our beloved - now became a viable possibility. For gay men and women the opportunity to legally marry is deeply validating and affirming. Certainly the desire to participate in the institution of holy matrimony, which was out of reach up until the recent win of Marriage Equality, has a significant pull for many gay couples rushing to tie the knot. Asking or being asked by your beloved to marry is an exhilarating moment colored by dreamy sunny pastels of pink and gold. The future looks bright, and we tend to ignore the potential challenges our relationship may face down the road. The compelling power of the cultural fairytale surrounding the idea of marriage in combination with the validating legal recognition of LGBT community as being equal are too strong to resist. We desperately want to believe in the “happily forever after” and so, we allow this beautiful fantasy to hold our rational mind hostage for a moment, long enough for us to utter – “I do.”
Once we slip back into our senses the awareness of potential pitfalls of our future union becomes harder to overlook. We might find ourselves contemplating the differences between us and our beloved, the points of contention in our relationship, topics we found to be too sensitive to bring up, some unspoken expectations of marriage that may or may not be shared by our fiancé, our unfulfilled desires in the relationship, and most of all the obvious looming truth that by choosing this relationship we are unchoosing all other possibilities “’til death do us part.”
Marriage is one of the major life transitions that marks the start of a new life phase for most of us. It is important to make this step with clear mind and joyful heart, knowing that we chose well. Surprisingly, the engagement in of itself often brings up a lot of unresolved baggage for each of the partners. Once we are engaged, the less binding phase of the relationship is over, and now the couple is in premarital stage, soon to become a family. The transition from being a couple to being a family has the power to bring up all of the unresolved negative emotions and beliefs we hold around the notion of “family.” It may also trigger fear of the uncertainty ahead, or fear of repeating the mistakes of the past, whether our own or those of our parents. The relationships we witnessed between our parents will unintentionally dictate our marriage ideas and expectations, which are not always conducive of marital bliss. Also, we often assume that our ideas of marriage are similar to those of our fiancé, without ever testing this hypothesis through an honest self-reflection and open conversation with our spouse to be. The baggage of the past, the anxiety and unspoken assumptions about marriage, and the expectations each of the partners has of the married life, are all important to address, discuss and resolve prior to making the mutual commitment. Following the old wisdom, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is the exact purpose of the premarital counseling.
Premarital counseling provides a firm footing for the couple to step into the married phase of the relationship with confidence and joy. As a psychotherapist I see premarital counseling as serving several key functions:
- Release personal baggage of unresolved negative emotions and limiting beliefs (including the ones about relationships and marriage) in order to prevent this baggage from having a destructive impact on the relationship.
- Discuss and Resolve personal anxieties and concerns around marriage and family
- Clarify mutual ideas, desires and expectations around marriage and family, while creating a shared vision of the relationship after marriage.
The goal of premarital counseling is to eliminate the seeds of future tension and conflict in the relationship and to enhance the harmony between the partners.
How does premarital counseling with Dr. Harel work?
In my Los-Angeles based couples therapy practice I have developed a 3 Power-step A-R-C approach, which, once applied to premarital counseling, yields wonderful results. The 3 Power-steps are:
Awareness – During the first Power-Step we will spend some time talking about your relationship, the specific results you would like to achieve in premarital counseling, the history of your relationship, as well as your personal histories. This background information will provide us with rich foundation for our work together. Here we will uncover the recurrent patterns in each of your life experiences and identify both the desired outcome and the path to achieve it.
Release – In the second Power-Step of premarital counseling I will meet individually with each partner to address the personal emotional baggage that each partner brought into the relationship. Here we will use advanced mind-technology of Neuro-Linguistic-Programming (NLP) and elements of light hypnotherapy to create rapid and profound shift in your experience. Both NLP and hypnotherapy are tools to release the old emotional baggage of unresolved negative emotions and limiting beliefs, and clear the path toward the relationship your desire.
Co-Creation – The third Power-Step of premarital counseling is experienced by the couple together and here we mitigate the differences and challenges that were created within the relationship itself, as well as rectify any gaps in couple’s expectations and assumptions about married life and family. During this step we create a shared vision of your ideal relationship and set you on the path of joy, purpose and fulfillment.
Marriage is one of the defining moments of our life. We want to bring our best self and to be the spouse we want to be for our beloved. Life shared with the person we chose as our soulmate is supposed to be filled with joy. Premarital counseling makes it easier to create the shared life you both desire. Marriage can be a wonderful source of happiness and fulfillment and it is our responsibility to create our life the way we want it to be. I am here to help you do that. When you are getting ready for the big day, give me a call and let’s chat about how premarital counseling can improve the quality of your union.