premarital counseling

6 topics engaged couples seldom discuss that could lead to divorce

You just got proposed to, the ring is fabulous and you can't wait to start planning the wedding of your dreams. You have always imagined yourself in a beautiful, big dress with lace sleeves. You've picked the bridesmaids, you know your location, but have you had the right discussion with your fiancé to make sure that you are both in sync? Or do you still have fears that your marriage might end up like your parents'?

Now I know there is nothing romantic about having a serious discussion with the one you love. You'd rather focus on the fairy tale wedding. But if you plan to spend the rest of your life with someone, you better make sure you have laid the right foundation. You don't want to end up like your parents who are now unhappily divorced or like your friend who used to be so happy, but now she can't stand her husband. Laying the right foundation for your marriage will ensure that you both are happily married.

Here are 6 topics that every serious dating and engaged couple should discuss so that the marriage doesn't end up in strife or divorce.

Finances: Money is a huge trigger for many people. Some of us are taught how to take care of our money, and others were never taught. We typically take care of our money the way we saw our parents take care of their money. If your father was a big spender, chances are you'll also want to spend your money quickly. But if your parents or guardians were frugal, you'll probably have a smilier mindset. In some families, money is actually never discussed, meaning that the kids grow up to believe that money is a taboo topic. 

While you are still engaged, it's important to talk about how you both will manage finances. Will you have 2 separate accounts or 1 joint account? Will you split bills half way or will one partner contribute more to the bills? Will you be setting a monthly budget or will you play it by ear? Money is one of the top reasons for divorce. Although it might be uncomfortable, get the discussion in now before you say your vows.

Kids: I can't even tell you how many couples do not ever discuss the issue of kids until after they are married. How many kids do you both want to have? Who will take care of the kids? Will one of you stay home for a while to care for the kids? Will the kids be in daycare? What type of daycare are you comfortable with? How will you raise your kids? What values will you like to instill in them? What are your parenting styles? Will you be a listening parent or a barking orders, do what I say parent? Will the kids be home schooled? If both parents cannot agree about how to raise kids, I promise you, it'll become an ongoing argument once the kids get here. So while it isn't romantic to go over these issues, it's definitely practical.

Holidays: Holidays are joyous times. We spend the time with our loved ones, we have special rituals around that time of year, and we definitely know what type of food should be served. But when an engaged couple gets married, the question becomes, "Do we celebrate holidays at your parents' house or mine?" Great question.

Marriage is a joining of two families. And you can't expect one person to completely leave their family behind. And if both of you are from different cultures, you have to add a separate layer to it. Your spouse might celebrate holidays that you've never heard of. Take some time to talk about what holidays you both would like to celebrate, where you'd like to celebrate, as well as who you'd like to celebrate it with. It might sound too simple to discuss, but when one partner feels like her family is ignored every year, it could lead to resentment, which leads to bitterness and anger. 

Chores: When you're single, you get used to running your household however you want. You can leave your dishes in the sink for 2 straight nights, you can vacuum 3 times a day if you'd like, and you can cook all the stinky cheese you please. No problem. But when you become engaged, then get married, you have to learn how to compromise. Don't take chores for granted. Before you move in together, talk about how you plan to split chores around the house. Is it his job to take out the trash, or will you both do it? How often do you expect the house to be cleaned? Specify what cleaning looks like, because for some people, cleaning simply means sweeping the floor, for others, cleaning means, sweeping, dusting, mopping, fluffing pillows, cleaning the blinds and scrubbing the grout. Make sure it's obvious what your expectations are. I can assure you that something as simple as a dirty home will drive you to daily conflict. 

Religion: This is a huge one. Be very honest about your religious and spiritual beliefs. This is not something to glance over. Talk about your beliefs and how you express them in daily life. So if your expectation is that you go to church on Sundays, then say that. if your expectation is that you volunteering Sundays, go to mid-week service on Wednesdays and also participate on other days, let that be clear. And if you are 2 people form different faith backgrounds, it's even more important to discuss what that would look like. Religious beliefs run deep so put everything on the table and let your expectations be very clear. This WILL lead to strife if not ironed out while you're still and engaged couple.

Roles: Discuss what each of you believes the wife and the husband's role is. Usually, we expect to run our household the way our family of origin ran theirs. So if your mom stayed home and watched the kids, you might want to do the same. If your dad worked two jobs and your mom worked one, you might assume your husband wants to do the same. Do you believe the husband is the head of the household? And what does that mean in practice? Get very specific. The easiest way to do this is to think back to your family of origin. Write out what roles your mom and dad played and think about if you'd like to continue that lifestyle or if you'd want something different.

Learn more about ways to set appropriate boundaries with your partner in this post- How to set appropriate boundaries in your relationships

And if it's too difficult to have these discussions on your own, I provide premarital counseling/therapy for engaged and premarital couples. Let's make sure that you are confident when walking down the aisle. Start your marriage off right with solid counseling. Don't make the same mistakes your friends and loved ones did. And if you'd like to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call, to see if premarital counseling in the Murrieta/Temecula area is right for you, click here or call 951-905-3181. I also provide online premarital counseling throughout California.

What is therapy?

Therapy or psychotherapy or counseling is simply treating mental health disorders while keeping the person's individual relationships and environment in mind. It doesn't matter if you call me a therapist, a psychotherapist or a counselor-I'm fine with all three titles. 'Mental health disorders' sounds really harsh, but what that simply means is some type of psychological problem one has which is causing him or her distress. Depression causes distress, so does anxiety, so does anorexia, so does OCD, and so do schizophrenia, phobias, PTSD, insomnia and Bipolar disorder. Some mental health disorders are very severe and people struggle with them for a lifetime. While others last for a few weeks or a few months at a time. Some are recurrent and come back after a while, and some show up for a few weeks and never return. A mental health diagnosis does not make you 'crazy.' In fact millions of people work and raise families while living with a mental health disorder. 

Think of it this way-there are also millions of people around the world who struggle with physical health disorders and who live fruitful lives. Would you call them crazy? I'd hope not.

When you are on the lookout for a therapist, expect that each therapist you talk to will be very different. Don't expect to instantly form a connection with every therapist you call- simply because they have a master's degree or a doctorate. Some people will talk too slowly for you, some will be too pushy and then one will be just right.

Different therapists work from different perspectives. Some work from a cognitive perspective, which means they focus on the way you think. Others work from a behavioral perspective-they are more concerned with how you act. Still others work from a systemic perspective- taking into account your family background, your upbringing and your environment. Some rely heavily on helping you tap into your emotions, while others will never even mention the word 'emotions.'

Some therapists will take notes as you are talking, others will use a tablet or a laptop and still some will not take any notes. Typically when you walk into a therapist's office, expect him or her to ask you lots of questions about your medical history, childhood history and mental health history. This information is golden for us as we use it to figure out how best to help you. The more honest you are, the easier it will be for us to get you to your goal.

So therapy isn't this weird mysterious thing. It just looks very much like 2 people sitting across from each other and having conversations until the other person begins to feel better. You are free to ask questions and your therapist is your ally.

For a free 15 minute phone consultation with me, click here to email me or call me at 951-905-3181. You can ask me all the questions you want so we can figure out how therapy can help you. And if you decide I'm not the best fit for you, that's okay too. It's all a normal part of the process. But give yourself a chance to be free of anxiety and find the calm you deserve.

Can premarital counseling save your marriage?


You've dreamed about this day all your life. You're walking down the aisle as you see your beloved with tears of joy in his eyes. You know your life together will be a fairytale. But have you had the tough conversations with him? Do you know the areas of strength and weaknesses in your relationship?

This is why premarital counseling is important. Even though so many people gloss over its importance, effective pre-marital counseling helps you and your loved one figure out how your pasts, values, ideals and beliefs could cause possible problems in the future. In session, you'll discuss important topics such as money, children, religion, in laws, how to handle disagreements, the role of friends and how your backgrounds affect your relationship.

Before the session, you'll both fill out a comprehensive Prepare/Enrich assessment form online. After that is done, a report, tailored to your specific situation is generated and sent to your counselor. The counselor then has an individualized system to discuss the actual strengths and weaknesses of your relationship. No guesswork here, the results are tailored to you. Doing this simple thing can reduce your chances of marital squabbles in the future.

So are you actually ready for marriage? Click here to contact me so you can schedule a free 15 minute consultation call for your first premarital counseling session in Murrieta or online. Start your marriage off on a stable foundation so you don't make the same mistakes others have made.