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In the last few weeks I've heard two different people comment about couples in relationships who are undergoing couples therapy. In both cases, the people I was speaking to said, basically, "And you knooow what that means. If they have to be in therapy before marriage, obviously they're destined for disaster."

I personally have never thought this. I just assumed any kind of therapy for couples--whether before they're married, while they're engaged, or while they're married--is a positive thing. I was surprised to hear some people think it's a red flag.

What do others think?

NOTE: I'm specifically talking about couples who are the "marrying type," not those who plan to be in co-habiting/long-term relationships. Not because I'm against that at all! But because I'm someone who plans to get married so that's what I'm interested in learning about.
 

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I would see pre-marital therapy as simply a meeting with a third party to help hash out all the particulars of marriage. Like when you hire a financial adviser to help you plan your money in the long-term, maybe therapy is the same thing, only planning your relationship in the long-term. Which is actually a brilliant idea if you're the sort of person who likes to plan things or is intimidated by the thought of marriage.
 

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I've never heard of that opinion, though I don't think I've heard anyone discuss pre-marital therapy before either. Personally I have always wanted to go to marriage counseling during an engagement--to work out any issues before we tie the knot, so we can have a great start together.
 

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My friend has had successes with pre-marital therapy.. She and her husband are a lot stronger, because of it.

Depends on the stage a couple is at. I personally wasn't successful at pre-marital therapy only because it was my way of getting out. I was hoping the counselor could help, and she did to make it very clear to me. In that sense, I see pre-marriage counseling as something positive, because it helps people to really assess their individual values and if they truly want to be with someone or not. Unfortunately, pre-marrital counseling is not a guarantee that both people's hearts are in it. The counseling part re-affirms each person's core values and interpersonal desires. It's a safe space for couples to look at their relationship objectively.
 

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There are problems and obstacles in any marriage. I see pre-marital counseling as an opportunity to hash out certain issues each party might not consider otherwise, but could eventually become a real problem. It is also a chance to improve communication and problem-solving skills, as well as help with the team-building aspect of partnership.
 
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I always thought it was mainly about learning positive communication & other skills to maintain a successful relationship, as well as developing realitic attitudes/expectations; sort of a "marriage preparation" course.

I think a lot of people didn't have many or any examples of good marriages growing up, and so they may never have learned these things.

So, no, I wouldn't assume "red flag" at all...
 

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Funny you should ask this: My husband and I were at Davids Bridal earlier this evening (I was picking up a bridesmaids dress) & joking that our wedding day is the *only* day I've seen him a nervous wreck, and it's the only day *I've* been confident! Although he proposed to me way before I would ever have expected him to (I wasn't pressuring) - once the planning started, he started to have marital anxiety. He found a therapist who basically told him this is normal -- and that there's probably something wrong with me for *not* being nervous!!

I started having anxiety once I started receiving a lot of "no" RSVPs from my relatives. I didn't have time to change my family dynamics - but I was glad I went to a therapist, too, because she gave me a lot of helpful tips on how to communicate with my husband when my everyday feelings get so overwhelming.

And whatever he talked about with his therapist (I think he was projecting his Mom onto me) must have worked, because after awhile, he wasn't having anxiety any more. Yes he was nervous the day of -- but we've been doing great! I totally recommend marriage counseling.
 

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When I read this post title, I didn't perceive, "Pre-Marital Therapy," as a time to sort things out before you get married, although that makes sense.

My parents attended therapy before they were married, but not to "sort things out" before the wedding. Mama had anxiety, and depression and anger issues that didn't surface until she was cohabiting with someone. They had to move out, but Papa had seen she had issues she wasn't dealing with, and they went to therapy together several times together because he didn't want to walk away from someone who needed help, and he understood going with someone makes starting therapy less scary. If a "sane" person can go to therapy... A couple of years later, she began seeing a therapist every two weeks. I've also been a daughter who has, and known other people who have, gone into the therapy sessions one-on-one with their loved one's long-term counselor, to give their therapist a different perspective on their patient or on that relationship. This makes a lot of sense to me, because therapists usually only see one narrative, which must be hellishly frustrating.

I suppose I see "Pre-Marital Counseling," not focusing on the health of the couple, but instead supporting an individual within the relationship. The individual is not at a place of loving themselves enough to have a healthy relationship, but their partner is unwilling to leave, and so they must utilize counseling so that the relationship can deepen to the point of marriage.

The way some others have perceived it: as mediation highlighting things to work on and goals/expectations of marriage -- seems strange and artificial to me, like a quick fix. It's not necessarily a warning sign about the success of the marriage, but I think it may suggest a kind of naive lover who sees a problem in a relationship as something which can be solved and then put away. Frequently, a lover should being checking in on their relationship, trying to be more communicative, more vulnerable, and comparing their goals compared to their behaviors.

I feel counseling is reserved for places that are harder to access and are more personal to one of the lovers, and is used over a period of time (be it weeks/months/years), as you can patterns. But mediation and communication over normal things ("What do you expect to change when we get married?", "How do you feel about divorce after having kids?", financial/moving/family stuff, etc.) should already be present if you're in for the long haul.
 
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When I read the title and the initial post, I have to admit, I thought, "Oh boy, if they are having trouble now, and they aren't even married, what's it going to be like after they are married?" That was my red flag. But I realize now, I'm dealing with a preconceived notion: that any counseling that is pursued is because a problem exists. The comments here helped me realize that counseling can be more about preparation for a new stage in life, and not necessarily damage control after things go haywire.

Now that I realize that, it does seem to be a really good idea, and less of a red flag.
 

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Unfortunately, not everyone who marries is self-aware enough to know all their views that come up in marriage. Honestly, I think if the basics aren't hashed out before the couple get engaged, then they need to slow down. The problem I see in a lot of relationships, including my own, is a tendency to have trouble with the balance of remaining an individual while being in a committed partnership. The dynamics of the relationship change in ways that are difficult to feel until they have come to be, and expectations of each party don't always match up. Not all couples know how to get on the same page, either.
 

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Any relationship takes work. Individuals are so complex, and communication is difficult between any two people. Add the tension of a romantic connection, the pressure of the communication -needing- to work, and its even harder. You become so invested in the other person, and in some people's cases, you actually merge with that person, so little misunderstandings or disagreements seem a lot bigger than they would with a person whos just a friend. Its normal. Some people just let these little issues fester, and thats not healthy. Many don't care to fix it, or they feel hopeless about fixing it. I think counseling is a positive thing assuming you find a counselor whos not an idiot. I saw one with my college bf, and the things that I learned help me to this very day. I did end up breaking up with him, but I should have known we were over long before we went to see a counselor. Actually our first date should have been the last one.

Anyway, I really did learn some valuable things that equipped me to get through a lot of issues with people later in life.
 
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