Asking or being asked by your beloved to marry is an exhilarating moment for most of us, 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 is too strong to resist. For same-sex couples, the wonderfully validating legal recognition and marriage equality add to the excitement. We want to believe in the “happily ever after” and so we utter – “I do.”
Once the relationship honeymoon is over, the awareness of the potential pitfalls of our future union becomes harder to ignore. We might find ourselves contemplating the differences between us, the points of contention in our relationship, topics we find to be too sensitive to bring up, some unspoken expectations of marriage, our unfulfilled desires in the relationship, and most of all the obvious looming truth that by choosing this relationship we are un-choosing all other ones “’til death do us part.”
Marriage is one of the major life transitions. It is important to make this step with a clear mind and joyful heart, knowing that we chose well. Surprisingly, the engagement in and 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 the premarital stage, soon to become a family.
The transition from being lovers to being a family has the power to bring up all of the unresolved negative emotions and beliefs we associate with the notion of marriage and 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 to marital bliss.
Also, we often assume that our ideas of marriage are shared by 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 have of married life are all important to address, discuss and resolve prior to making a mutual commitment. Following the old wisdom, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is the exact purpose of 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 history. This background information will provide us with a 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 a 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 the couple’s expectations and assumptions about marriage. 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 in our life. We want to bring our best selves to 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. 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 further improve the quality of your union.