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Phoenix Forward magazine

5 reasons to seek premarital counseling

Premarital counseling can strengthen relationships

“Many couples tend not to realize the challenges that blending lives will bring,” says Juergen Korbanka, PhD, area chair for the College of Social Sciences for the University of Phoenix Utah Campus. Premarital counseling can help you prepare for these changes and start your married life happily. Here are five reasons to sign up:

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You will learn to adapt.

Counseling can help you understand each other’s habits and perspectives, easing the transition as you get used to a new way of life together. “Marriage requires adaptation,” Korbanka says, emphasizing that this kind of adjustment doesn’t happen overnight, and it can be overwhelming.

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You can preempt potential problems.

“There’s a preventive nature to premarital counseling,” explains Korbanka, who is also the director of Wasatch Mental Health in Provo, Utah. It encourages discussion and provides tools to help you handle differences or big-picture decisions.

Once you’ve learned positive communication strategies, Korbanka says, you have a better chance of resolving any concerns together.

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The two of you can set expectations together.

According to Korbanka, premarital counseling helps you define the expectations and values each of you puts on emotionally sensitive points, such as finances, household responsibilities, sex, children and religion.

For example, women have traditionally been expected to take on household and child care responsibilities, he says, but this shouldn't be assumed. Outlining your expectations as a couple can help eliminate potential conflict and resentment.

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You’ll discuss how children and past partners affect your relationship.

If one or both of you have been married before, new areas of potential conflict arise, Korbanka says. These could include spousal support, custody arrangements or intense feelings involving the ex-spouse. Speaking with a counselor can help you find ways to keep these emotions and issues from impacting your new relationship.

Children from previous relationships can further complicate the dynamic of a new marriage. Depending on the children’s ages, counseling can help them as well, particularly if they are struggling with new family arrangements or their relationship with their other parent.

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You can acknowledge incompatibility, if necessary.

Despite your best intentions, you might realize through counseling that you shouldn't stay together. “This could be a wise decision if the couple discovers they're not as compatible as they thought or as ready to face the realities and responsibilities of marriage,” Korbanka points out. Facing this before marrying can save future heartache — and it can pave the way for you to find a better partner down the road.

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