Friday, 29 April 2016

A Guide for Preparing for Marriage

There is a rise in the rates of separation and divorce in many countries and half of marriages end in divorce. Many people enter marriage without adequate preparation. While premarital preparation may not prevent problems in marriage, it gives couples tools to strengthen their relationships and prepare for future challenges in marriage.   

Learn more about your spouse before you marry.
Premarital preparation is an educational process that includes various subjects and themes to effectively prepare couples for marriage. According to Robyn Parker, in her article, A framework for future research in premarriage education, "In general, premarriage programs seek to engage couples in th process of reflection and skills training with the aim of promoting and supporting the development of strong, stable relationships."

There are various formats of marriage preparation which include premarital counseling and marriage preparation courses offered by churches and other organisations. Whatever the format, the objective is to help you to deal with areas of conflicts that might lead to challenges in your marriage. Here are three benefits of premarital preparation.

Helps Partners to know Each Other Better

Premarital preparation is beneficial because at this stage, you are more open and receptive to changes. Preparation will help you to understand yourselves and each other better. As a couple, you may try to show yourselves in the best possible light to each other during the courtship period. Premarriage preparation could help you to gain deeper knowledge and understanding of each other before marriage.

It is possible for you to enter a marriage relationship and know each other only on a superficial level. However, during the marriage preparation, there are opportunities to explore your beliefs, values, expectations and other areas that are important to you both. This makes way for greater sensitivity to each others needs in marriage.

Identifies and Explores Important Issues

Another advantage of pre-marriage counselling is that it explores the similarities and differences between you and your partner. It also assists each of you to communicate your hopes and expectations for the marriage. Even more, you get an opportunity to work through areas of potential conflicts that are identified in a safe and supportive environment.

It is highly likely that what both of you experiences in your own families could influence how you behave in your relationship when you get married. In fact, research suggests that couples usually behave like their parents in handling their responsibilities, especially in challenging situations. Marriage preparation will help couples to resolve issues related to their families of origin before they get married.

Assesses Compatibility with Partner 

Various inventories or assessment tools may be used to provide you with information that could indicate the potential success of a your marriage. These assessments can give both of you an idea of areas of compatibility and strengths but they could also indicate areas where you may need to work on.

Assessments could also help each person to evaluate his or her own level of self-esteem.  Then take steps to boost specific areas, where necessary, so that a low sense of self does not negatively impact their marriage relationship.

Find out if you are compatible.
A key ingredient in relationships is communication. During marital preparation, you get a chance to explore and practice more effective patterns of communication. For example, you  might need to improve your listening skills to ensure that you listen actively.

As your  communication skills improve, this leads to greater awareness of each other's thoughts, feelings, and needs resulting in a more nurturing relationship.

Like many couples, you and partner could find marriage preparation helpful in assisting you to develop plans to deal with conflicts and strengthen your marriage. Research indicates that there are seven relationship skills and knowledge that contribute success in marriage:
  • compatibility
  • expectations
  • family of origin
  • communication
  • conflict resolution
  • intimacy and sexuality
  • long-term goals
In the video, relationship counselor, Gary Chapman,  explains that, "most of us discover that marriage is more than we anticipated." His book, Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married,  is to help young people get ready for marriage. 

He points out that the time to prepare for marriage is not after couples are engaged to be married. The time to start preparing for marriage is now. iFor f you ever hope to get married, there are some things you need to learn. Thus the need for effective premarriage education.

According to Marriage Success Trainers, an effective premarital preparation program should include:
  1. an assessment inventory that helps couples to understand  areas of compatibility and strengths;
  2. comprehensive, systematic, and skill-based strategies to help couples;
  3. content that is based on marriage relationship research
  4. facilitation by trained, qualified professionals who are married couples and serve as role models;
  5. flexibility to facilitate each couple's relationship and learning styles, to practice such important skills as communication and conflict resolution; and
  6. encouraging couples to pursue goals to manage and continue to work on important unresolved issues.
If you are considering marriage, take the important first step to begin your premarital preparation. You could also find the resources on Marriage Builders helpful in your preparation.  

Images courtesy of marcolm at

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