Before You Plan The Wedding: 8 pre-marital essentials for long-term marriage

~Marriage Is A Partnership That Requires~

 Negotiation
Compromise
Selflessness

~Statistics Do Not Lie
According to the American Psychological Association 40-50% of married couples in the US divorce.
The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.

8 Topics To Discuss With Your Partner

1. Finances/Budget:  According to studies, the top predictor of divorce is arguing about money early in relationships. As a marriage counselor, I witness this in my practice daily. Be sure to negotiate regarding joint accounts, separate accounts. How will you define needs vs. wants? As a couple, you both should have knowledge of all accounts and develop a budget ON PAPER together.

2.  Navigating In-Law Relationships:  It will be important to recognize that in-laws are a great gift to our marriages as a support network.  Sometimes good meaning in-laws want to offer advice from how to keep house to how you should raise your children.  Issues with in-laws can put a great strain on a marriage.  Be sure to set clear boundaries with in-laws regarding their role in your marriage.  Marriage is a dance and you will move together fluidly one day then step on each others feet the next.  Part of marriage is learning to navigate the dance floor as a couple.

3.  Religious Views:  What are your expectations regarding religion and practicing spirituality as a family?  Do you expect that your spouse will attend church with you?  How will the children be raised regarding religion?  If you don’t know your partners religious views be sure to have that discussion now!

4.  Readiness For Children:  The “”when to have a baby” discussion can lead to stress and anxiety in a marriage.  Be sure to talk with one another regarding having children.  When would be a good time?  How will we balance work, play and family?  Again, never make assumptions that you know what the other one may be thinking.

5.  Sexual Views: An issue that comes up in my marriage counseling work is pornography.  This can feel like a taboo issue but the reality is that social media is full of pornographic images and content.  Do you both share the same moral values regarding viewing or not viewing pornography?  Sometimes spouses are shocked to find out that their partner views pornography and feels, “what’s the big deal?”  It is a big deal if your spouse has different values.  Discuss this tough subject now to avoid issues later in the marriage and more importantly….in the bedroom

6.  Fighting Fair: Fighting is ok.  However, there are important rules in fighting.  First of all, keep it private and never fight in front of the kids.  Children should never be exposed to adult themes.  Do not assassinate your partners character with name calling.  Your goal is to be heard and not to harm.  Ask yourself am I, “I have to be right fighter?”  Am I only interested in being right?  It is important to teach each other what your needs are.  Most importantly, ask yourself, “What is my part in this fight?  Do I need to do something differently?  Take your own moral inventory….not your partners.

7.  Keeping House:  This is a big one.  So many couples fight over housework.  Who should do it or should we get a cleaning service.  How are you going to compromise and negotiate around this area?  Wives, be careful not to become your husband’s Mom keeping up after him to clean up.  This is a major intimacy killer.  Husbands, be sure to check-in to see how you can be helpful.  If your wife is a stay-at-home Mom be sure to support her and not belittle her efforts.  Staying at home with kids is a tough and dirty job that goes 24/7.

8.  Individuation:  What I mean by this is the importance of keeping your individuality after you are married.  Just because your married does not mean you cannot enjoy some of the things you did before you were married like play softball, having a girls shopping or dinner night.  It is very healthy to separate sometimes and have some space from one another.  Make sure you talk about this area.  This issues comes up repeatedly in my office.  I hear, “He’s never around, he’s out with his buddies.” or “She goes out with her girlfriends to the club and I don’t like that.”  Discuss expectations and also social deal breakers.  Remember you are married now and some of the social rules will need to change.

As a marriage therapist I highly recommend that every couple take a few weeks of pre-marital counseling to negotiate these areas.  I see many couples in my office before they hit their one year anniversary because they were so focused on flowers and wedding dresses that the most important areas got put on the back burner.  Don’t get me wrong, the celebration is important but have a balance and address the heart issues of marriage as well.

If you are getting married many blessings to you and your finance’.

His Daughter,

Melanie

Plan A Play Date With Your Hubby!

mark and I

Yes, you heard me right a play date.

As a family therapist, I am always instilling the importance of putting your marriage first! As married couples we get it all backwards.

We are going to this practice, that rehearsal, food shopping, dog grooming, car inspections, the list goes on and on. We make sure our kids have the latest gadget, clothing etc..

We run ourselves ragged and usually take the stress out on one another which then leads to the kids feeling overwhelmed and stressed out too.

Take a moment and calculate in your mind how many minutes you spent this week actually just checking-in with your spouse to see how he or she is doing emotionally.

Was it 1 hour total, 30 minutes, or maybe 10 minutes this week? Yikes! I hope not!

By the time I start to see married couples in my office, they have lost their intimate connection to one another and usually use the phrase over and over again, “I feel like we are two ships in the night.”

If this is the case, it is time to sail out to sea, just the two of you and set down your anchors, put a plank between your ships and jump ship into each others arms! Your marriage depends on it!

Actually, your family as a whole depends upon it. When children see that Mom and Dad are happy and stress free it gives them a sense of security and nurturance that money can never buy.

Oh and a play date doesn’t cost a thing because you probably already have games in the house!

HOW I PLANNED A PLAY DATE WITH MY HUBBY!

One day my husband was feeling overwhelmed and grumpy about a bunch of different things. I noticed we were getting on each others nerves and you could feel the tension in the room.

We had the game of “Trouble” sitting around and he had mentioned that he loved playing it as a kid. So that afternoon I said we need to play a game and just be silly.

He looked at me with one eyebrow raised in the air as if I was losing my mind and then I saw his face soften. He agreed to give it a try.

Within one minute we were laughing and teasing one another, the stress that we were feeling melted away and we ended up playing three rounds….well, I am kind of competitive……….ok I’m a lot competitive when it comes to playing games.

Since then, we have played “Trouble” quite a few times. I can’t tell you the feeling of freedom we had of letting go of the stress and just being present with one another.

So, go and plan a play date with your hubby. Re-discover his smile, his laughter, his playful nature. Enjoy one another once again.

His Daughter,

Melanie