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Pre-Marriage Therapy? [Ask Dr. Miro: What You Didn’t Learn In Health Class]

Dear Dr. Miro,

What are the benefits of couples counseling before marriage? My girlfriend thinks we need it. I thought she would be happy that I proposed after three years. I mean, seriously, if she thinks we are having problems isn’t that a huge red flag? I do love her. Otherwise I wouldn’t have asked her to marry me. If we can’t handle our own problems shouldn’t I just call this whole thing off?

Getting Cold Feet

Dear GCF,

There are actually quite a few benefits to couples therapy regardless of whether or not you plan on spending the rest of your life with someone. If your girlfriend thinks you need it, take it to mean there are a few wrinkles she wants to smooth out in order to start off the remainder of your years together.

One of the major plusses in taking this healthy step with your fiancé is that you enter a room in which a professional will be holding safe space for you both. Often times, it can be initially scary because the partner who did not suggest this thinks that he willl be blind sided by many issues that he  will then have to defend himself against. Hence the need for a qualified therapist who will put you at ease and let you understand this is not about having a referee to say who is right versus who is wrong. Rather, it is about strengthening the relationship.

She may just want to know you care enough about your relationship to work on things together. Sometimes, simply agreeing to go is enough! It will prove to her you are in this for the long haul – no matter what life may throw in your way. Reacting by saying, “We do not need it and if we do, that shows the relationship is not worth it” plays into all of your Significant Other’s attachment fears. What she hears is, “You are not worth any effort and I am out of here.” Since you bothered asking about this, it says you do care enough to work through all the muck that may or may not be building up. Obviously, there are some communication issues. Worst-case scenario, you discover this is not who you want to spend the rest of your life with. However, that could also be a best-case situation…

Relationships are work but generally speaking, it pays off in the end. Even if you decide she is not the woman for you, it is important to know, deep inside yourself, you put in your best effort. Beginnings and endings tend to be a bit easier than the middle part in that they are so much more clear-cut. I recommend you try out counseling. It may be tough but it can only make you stronger.

Lust & Happiness,
Dr. Miro

featured image credit: Photochiel