Marriage/commitment can be a wonderful thing.  We all hope to find the perfect person, to live “happily ever after.”   In our culture, we have few examples of happy couples.  If we are lucky, we have encountered some growing up.  Sometimes, not.  In order to have your best chance of a solid marriage, high quality premarital counseling is crucial.

The Day After

What happens after ‘the big day’? There is an all-encompassing excitement about moving from being a single person to a committed couple. What about the day after?  What does it mean to call the other your spouse?

Our Often times, the day after the big day can involve a let-down.  The party is over, and now what?  Well, there is some internal work to do.  We have to begin to understand ourself , and our partner, in new ways.  What does it mean to be married/committed?  What internal models come to the fore?  Well, what did you see growing up?  What were the models in your life?  How did your parents relate to each other?  How about your grandparents, aunts/uncles, your parents’ friends, your friend’s parents?  Anytime we make (or have) a significant change in our lives, we have to create new internal representations – new internal models.  Our past experiences are enormously influential in creating these models.

There are many internal changes as we move into this new stage of our lives.  Our basic sense of self as well as that of our spouse is changed.  We may also have to learn to share our space, our time, our socks, to be accountable, and to be patient.

Growing up in this culture, we often (perhaps unconsciously) expect things to be easy and for things/people to be perfect.  We might idealize what marriage means/feels like – and then realize that things are not perfect.  One morning, you realize that your spouse has bad breath!  (By the way, so do you!).   We have to learn to incorporate the little disappointments, and learn to cherish the simple things that work well together.  Maybe she takes all the covers, but it is a special feeling knowing that you wake up next to her.

The Marriage Paradox

Marriage poses a paradox.  We really do best in a marriage when we can be mature, understand our limitations and foibles and learn to be patient/mature with our spouse.  However, there are strong regressive pulls in marriage.  We often look to our partner to make up for things in our family of origin.  We can benefit from appreciating the wonderful qualities of our partner, even from a dreamy perspective – however, we really do need to balance the dreaminess with the patience that comes from mature love.

The Importance of High Quality Premarital Counseling

The idea of premarital counseling can be frightening.  However, there is something very special about developing new understandings about yourself and your relationship in the presence of your partner.

These are just a few thoughts on this very rich topic. If you have any questions, want more information or would like to explore premarital counseling, see our page about premarital counseling and please contact us at director@www.sfcounselingcenter.com or 415.440.0500.