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Pre-marital counseling before getting engaged?

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cherry_vanilla

Rough_Rock
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I''ve always wanted to go through pre-marital counseling before getting engaged, it seemed like a sensible idea to make sure we were going into this solid and not have something surface at the last minute that would throw a serious wrench in the wedding and relationship plans.

My boyfriend just started calling some local counselors, and I guess it''s really starting to sink in that this is real, that we''re really starting to move forward on this "rest of our lives" thing. I still don''t think the engagement will happen for many more months or years even, but it doesn''t seem like it''s too soon to start regardless.

However, just based on our friends, we are in the minority in wanting to go through counseling before the wedding at all! Is it really that unusual to want what amounts to pre-engagement counseling? Has anyone else gone through it (preferably not through a church or anything, we''re both very much not-religious) and what exactly did you come out of it with?
 

musey

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Sep 30, 2006
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11,242
There have been a couple of threads on this topic, try a search for "pre-marital counseling."

I don''t think something like that can ever be a bad idea. Since your boyfriend is on board with it, I say go for it!
 

aquarius_ser

Shiny_Rock
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Apr 12, 2006
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I''ve never heard of anyone going through pre-engagement counseling..... why would you need it if you''re going to have pre-marital counseling?
 

therighttime

Shiny_Rock
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Feb 20, 2006
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I personally think pre-engagement counseling is a great idea! The fact that it comes before any formal committment is what makes it great. Too many times, the ring is bought, the venue reserved and no matter what you discover in pre-marital counseling, the couple feels too far into the wedding planning to change any plans. Pre engagement counseling gives you the chance to concentrate on your future without all the outside pressures that come after engagement. I''ve read in several books where therapists recommend at least 5 sessions before announcing your engagement to anyone.

I''ve been married before when I was 23 and our premarital counseling consisted of talking to the preacher about what time he needed to arrive. I assure you that from experience that was not enough. This time around, my boyfriend and I have been to several classes, read books together and completed and discussed the couple pre marital checkup online. Since I have been married before, we have my child to consider so it makes the pre engagement counseling even more important but I still think it''s a great idea for anyone.

here is a link to the checkup if you are interested. you take it separately but it gives you a great report at the end to discuss with each other. i''ts on the step family site but it''s for anyone. http://www.successfulstepfamilies.com/view.php/id/343
 

cherry_vanilla

Rough_Rock
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Nov 28, 2006
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Date: 3/1/2007 2:13:52 PM
Author: aquarius_ser
I''ve never heard of anyone going through pre-engagement counseling..... why would you need it if you''re going to have pre-marital counseling?
therighttime explained it better than I could have. Basically, we want to get through all the hard topics (while we have discussed a number of them already in depth, I can guarantee we haven''t hit them all!) and make sure we were on the right page before getting "locked-in" on the wedding train with no easy way out. Also, I know that young marriages (though I''m not sure me being 23-24+ and a full time PhD student and him being a few years older than that in a stable career can be so solidly lumped into the stereotypical young marriage category that is the prime candidate for divorce) have a much higher failure rate, which is all the more reason for me to be completely 200% sure we have everything in line before being all official about it.

I guess then that this would replace traditional pre-marital counseling, especially since we aren''t going to have to go through any required church programs or whatnot. This is a double-edged sword as we''re having trouble finding counselors that would take either of our insurances for this type of thing while it''d be included or free/much cheaper through a religious organization


I''ll definitely check out that link you posted therighttime! It''s so hard to find anything on this topic online that doesn''t have a major religious slant on it.
 

KimberlyH

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 15, 2006
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CV,

I think it''s a great idea. Good for you for being proactive in making sure your relationship is and stays on solid ground.
 

monarch64

Super_Ideal_Rock
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17,758
Fabulous idea. You can never have too much counseling, and definitely you can''t have too much before signing an agreement. DH and I are all for it! We''ve beem together for 3.6 years and would''ve been less happy without our counseling...good luckl to you!
 

cherry_vanilla

Rough_Rock
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Nov 28, 2006
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(((My latest vent session is sort of related to this last topic I made, so I figured why not put it in here)))

So we have hit two roadblocks in this regard:

1: Trying to find a counselor in the first place. As I mentioned, my boyfriend and I are not religious at all (and from different religious backgrounds to boot!) but we''re having a hard time finding non-clergy who administer the program we want to go through: PREPARE, as linked to by therighttime - my boyfriend and I both believe it''d perfect for us!

As we wait to hear back which therapists insurance covers, the only other option that''s probably not going to immediately shoot us down for being godless heathens.... is the pastor from my parent''s church. Since they''re very active in a small church, I''m not quite sure if that would help or hurt us. I also figure my parents would know the pastor well enough to see if he would be willing to go through with us knowing we''re inter-non-faith. This is going to be a slightly akward conversation to have with my folks, and waiting until I exhaust all other options to bring it up


I''m trying to scout out some unitarian churches in the meantime, but nothing so far. It''s ironic how hard it is to get pre-marital counseling outside of a religious establishment yet look at the divorce rate...


2) This is all of course assuming we''re going to go through with this anytime soon. This weekend my boyfriend brought up the woes of trying to find a counselor, and it led into the whole timeline thing (which I''m sure is everyone''s favorite topic on these forums...) which led me to come out of that conversation less than thrilled. But the odd part was, it wasn''t a matter of "boy time" vs "girl time": it was more "boy crazy calendar" vs "the calendar the rest of the world follows!"

In just that one conversation my boyfriend mentioned he didn''t want to get engaged until after I finished my senior thesis (I will admit he might have thought I had one as an undergrad like he did, but I get "advanced senior lab topics" instead of a 50 page paper to write in my major, but if he meant my doctoral thesis that won''t be done for years after I get in!), engaged until we lived together (until I reminded him not only was that my non-negotionable, the absolute earliest that could happen was after we had been dating for over 5 years, which he agreed was on the long side of not being engaged yet) married until I was done with grad school (that would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 2015!!!) but when I asked him what year he pictured this going down, he said 2009
Did I mention he also was wondering what would happen if I went away to school, he couldn''t follow me immediatebly but I was still on his insurance (from being married?) Stuff like that that was full of contradictions and silly logic.

The conversation lead to me just being so confused and he said I was getting defensive - no surprise when I couldn''t figure out what sort of bizarro-world calendar he was following that fits all of those "requirements!" I also wasn''t entirely sure if his objections were towards him "not being ready yet" or him thinking I will be too stressed to plan a wedding while in grad school so we should postpone it for years and years (I think it was leaning towards the latter, but it wasn''t clear communication on either end to know for certain) We did end the conversation saying that a long engagement is probably the best move for us, since it will not only give us time to mentally transition from single to married, we could also plan the wedding at a more leisurely pace and do DIY stuff little by little.

The main issue then is if it''s too soon to go for the PREPARE program. My guess is it is if the official engagement wasn''t going to happen for over a year later, but I''m curious as to what you guys all think. I suppose one day we''ll sit down with a calendar and chart out what timeline we''re working on so we can see what year is a realistic "if we''re ready for it we can get married then" year, but after this weekend I don''t know if he''ll want to talk about it anytime soon...
 

bee*

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 14, 2006
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12,170
ugh I hate those conversations which start off fine but leave you feeling frustrated. I would probably start the counselling a bit closer to the time if it was me. D and I arent going to for pre engagement counselling (we are nearly together 8 years and have talked about everything to do with the future and are pretty much in agreement on all issues. I think that a long engagement is a good one also-I will be having a two year engagement, which will allow me to get another two years of university behind me and also allow me to save up some cash. Sure I''d like to have a shorter one, but for me it wont be possible to study, work and plan for a wedding in less than two years. So do you have any idea about when the engagement is going to happen?
 

cherry_vanilla

Rough_Rock
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Nov 28, 2006
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76
That''s what I was trying to figure out, what engagement timeline he was thinking of, when he was giving different answers that spanned a 4-5 year range! I didn''t get a chance to say what I was thinking because I spent most of the time trying to figure out what time machine he was using to get these dates from. My "timeline" would have us getting married in my first or second year of grad school before I switch from classes to lab/thesis work which would be much harder to swing, which would be end of 2009 to end of 2010 abouts. I guess working backwards seeing how "long" a long engagement for us should be, the absolute earliest we ought to be engaged by (and by that logic having gone through pre-marital/engagement counseling and gotten the "all clear" or worked through the issues that raised red flags in those sessions) would be about this time next year, so after 4 years together. Which is perfectly fine with me, I''d be the first to admit I''m totally not ready for it yet in the sense of having an engagement mean something more than "dating plus" which alas, is enough for a number of girls my age.

His timeline... I really can''t say because he was all over the place, I''d almost rather he was all "no no no not even thinking about anything marriage for 2 more years" than have all these mixed messages flying around (I forgot to mention that the BIG trigger of that messy conversation was him out of the blue asking my opinion of where to actually have the wedding take place, no wonder I''m so confused!)

From reading the info from the PREPARE site, it seems to be that if you do have serious red flag that you ought to postpone any future marriage plans for they will be picked up, so again I''m not sure if it''s something you''re supposed to do far in advance of making such a committment or just before you plunk down money for a photographer and reception hall.

When it comes up next, I WILL say we are looking at a calendar just to get a ballpark idea of when this can happen. I just can''t be only working off his calendar, which I''m convinced was created with the aid of a time machine to get all the requirements he mentioned in 20 minutes in...
 

havernell

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Messages
571
As for the question of where to find a counselor who will work with you- have you checked with your college health center''s Counseling and Psychological Services department? I''m not sure how these program work/ if there is a fee/ if they could offer any type of pre-engagement counseling, but it''s worth exploring since you are an enrolled student.

If your current school cannot offer any sort of pre-engagement or couples counseling, perhaps the university you attend for grad school will and you could go through a program there.

Your post made has made me think about looking into such a program at my current grad school- it wouldn''t hurt for my boyfriend and I do do some pre-engagement counseling either!

I''m sorry you guys are having timing issues, but at least you are talking about it- that''s the most important thing! Good luck with it all.
 

cherry_vanilla

Rough_Rock
Joined
Nov 28, 2006
Messages
76
I know my school doesn''t do it. The main trick to waiting until I get to grad school is... that gives us an automatic 2-2.5 more years (depending on which session I can start in) before we can think about getting engaged. Which honestly, if I was told "no engagement talk until fall 2009 that is what is happening end of discussion" I think I would be much better off than having him bring up living together/wedding/marriage/etc plans and schemings on a weekly basis and left wondering if we''re going to be closed to married by then, you know?
 
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