As an Authorised Celebrant in Australia, it is a requirement to give couples wishing to get married a brochure called Happily Ever Before and After which gives you information about the legal process of getting married and also some helpful hints about pre-marriage counselling.
Now, people hear the words “pre-marriage counselling” and think:
“There’s nothing wrong with us, we don’t need that!”
“We’ve been living together for years, why would we need that?”
“My partner wouldn’t do that.”
“What a waste of money.”
Well, I was reading an article entitled: “Why do long term partners split after getting married?” written by Ariel Meadow Stallings, who writes for a website called “Offbeat Bride” and I think she came up with a great theory, not only for long term couples, but for anyone who is considering getting married.
Here is my summarised version of Ariel Meadow Stallings’ article…
You hear about it all the time. Debbie and Matt have been together forever. They’re the ultimate couple. They’re the couple you aspire to be like, then they decide to get married and it lasts a year before they’re headed for divorce. What the hell happened? All of a sudden people are questioning their own relationships. If Debbie and Matt can’t make it, what chance have we got?
There is a multitude of reasons why couples split up, but Debbie and Matt, although they lived together for a long time, might have had mismatched expectations about what their married life would be like. This can be the same for newer couples, especially if they haven’t had a specific conversation.
You see, some people will have the expectation that “nothing will change”. We’ll still live in the same house, we’ll both go to work and we’ll drink at the local on Fridays, except now, we’ll be wearing rings and calling each other Husband and Wife. For other people, the opposite is true – that “everything will change”. Once we get married, I’ll keep working while you stay home and raise our kids and manage the home and there’s no more going out with friends…
There are unlimited scenarios of expectations that could fall in-between those two examples or well and truly beyond them. But unless you ask your partner before you get married what their expectations are, you’ll never know and you might just get a rude shock if your expectations don’t match up.
Some people get caught up in the fairytale wedding and the marriages they’ve imagined based on movies they’ve seen or relatives they know, but realistically, we need to have these conversations to find out about our partner’s expectations as well as learning about our own before we head down the aisle.
Here’s a snippet from Ariel’s article – she explained it so well…..
“Neither of these assumptions is in any way wrong. The problem, however, is when the two people getting married don’t talk about their expectations. One partner goes in thinking, say, “This is going to be awesome: once we’re married, the sex is going to get way kinkier because the trust is going to be so much stronger between us!” The other partner goes in thinking, “This is awesome: I’m never going to have to travel alone again. We’ll go places together!”
The issues arise when they don’t talk these things over, and then go home after the wedding and the one partner is thinking, “Wow, the honeymoon was dull. Where’s my kinky sex?” And the other partner is thinking, “Wait, did they just say they don’t want to go to San Francisco with me next weekend? I thought we were doing everything together now!”
…See the problem?
There is a simple solution to this problem – just talk to your partner, but sometimes, for lots of reasons, this conversation isn’t always easy. For one, what if you don’t even know what your own expectations are yet? Some of you will have never been married before – how would you know? Sure you could look at other people’s marriages – friends, parents, siblings. People who are close to you are more likely to have similar life values as yourself, but in the end you’ve got to choose for yourself so you don’t end up one day realising that you’re living someone else’s life.
So this is where “Pre-Marriage Counselling” comes into your marriage planning. The counsellors help you to ask and answer those questions. It’s as simple as that! They will help you to work out what marriage is going to be about for you and your partner. Is it about supporting each other in everything you do? Is it about how much sex you have each week? Is it about travelling the world together? Or is it about giving each other the confidence to live your own lives, just side by side?
When you think about it, how is this going to harm you if you have a conversation with the person that you’re about to marry? When you’re planning a wedding and you want flowers, you speak to a florist; when you need assistance with a dress, you go to a bridal dress shop or dressmaker and when you’re finding out what you need to do to get married legally, you speak to a celebrant. So if you need some help working out what type of conversation you should have with your partner – you would ask someone who knows what they’re talking about.
Even if your expectations don’t completely overlap, there is always compromise and who better to help you find ways to do that?
Check out these websites for information around your area and give yourselves the best chance at a great marriage.