Tag Archives: premarriage education

Premarital counselling: How to make it more than just a task on the wedding to-do list

Do you feel like you only have one shot to set up couples for a successful marriage?
You’ve got 4 one-hour sessions to prepare this couple for a lifetime—and, go! That can feel like a lot of pressure and responsibility—where do we begin?

Luckily, premarital counseling doesn’t have to be a one-and-done situation. Think of it more as planting a seed: you prepare the soil and give it water, sunlight, and fertiliser to provide it with the best chance to thrive. But the plant will continue to require care and nurturing to grow to its full potential.

You may be in a situation where you’ll be able to provide guidance and support to the couple for years to come. Or you may be in a situation in which you won’t see the couple again once their sessions or the wedding is over. Either way, here are some ways to turn premarital counseling into an ongoing experience of growth for couples:

  • Be the driver of a meaningful experience. Most couples do not seek out premarital counselling on their own; they do it because they are required to. And that means that you have the ability to make the experience one that will stick with them long after the big day, instead of just another hoop to jump through. Your mindset matters! Couples will often take your cue on how to think about premarital counseling, so it’s important that you’re invested in the experience, too.
  • Point them to your favorite marriage resources such as books, podcasts, assessments, etc. so they can continue growing in their relationship on their own.
  • Have them form an ongoing relationship with a “mentor couple” — a couple whose relationship they consider a “role model” for their own.
  • Connect them to a community, such as other engaged or newly-married couples at their church or through your organisation.
  • Emphasise that relationship growth is an ongoing process, one that will hopefully continue throughout couple’s life together. “Perfection” is not the end destination in marriage. Encourage them to return to you or another counsellor in a year or two to reassess their relationship and see how they’ve grown. Things that were once growth areas may now be areas of strength, or they may find that new issues have arisen.
  • Keep practicing what they have learnt. Encourage couples to practice the techniques over and over until they become second nature.

More tips next week…

Do you need help with an issue or problem? Our approach helps to generate deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations can restore insight and understanding about one another.

Tune in for more tips next week… or contact me Shane Smith shane@intentional-relationship.com or @ www.workofheart.net.www.workofheart.net.au

More tips at Intentional-Relationship.com

Children with step parents are more at risk

Experts have previously suggested it was better for children from broken homes to have a step-parent, because it offers greater financial stability and another authority figure. However, children also face the stress of a ‘new family structure’, according to Norwegian researchers.

Children of divorced couples who live with a step-parent are at increased risk of mental health problems, a study has found.

Teenagers living with a stepfather or stepmother were more troubled than those who split their time between parents.

They reported more symptoms of mental health problems, such as depression and dishonesty, and more bullying at school.

The study compared more than 7,700 teenagers, who lived with either single parents, step-parents, between their parents in joint custody or with both parents in a traditional family. The results showed children living with a stepfather had the worst mental health, although living with a single parent was not significantly better for the child.

Stepfathers faring worse than stepmothers may be explained by evidence that men monitor children less and have a generally more uninvolved parenting style. The study results suggested the best arrangements for children if parents did separate was shared custody. Children in a family with a step-parent had significantly more adjustment problems than those in nuclear families and those who spent time living with both parents.

The authors from the Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare in Bergen, Norway, wrote: ‘An interpretation of these findings is that possible benefits of introducing a step-parent to the family (eg. increased economical and parental resources) might be counteracted by the stress related to establishing a new family structure.’

The researchers established 16 to 19 year-olds’ mental health with questions including how worried they were, if they were often downhearted or tearful, were bad-tempered, restless or often lied or cheated. A score from this Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire was compared to their living arrangements.

The resulting poor scores for children with step-families suggested remarriage did not alleviate the negative effects of growing up with a single parent.

Around one in ten families in Australia (13.3%) are step-families with at least one child living in the house, but little research has been done on how this set-up affects children. The study, in the Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, showed children with step-parents felt better off financially than those with single parents, but this did not appear to be reflected in their mental health.

Lead author Sondre Nilsen wrote: ‘It could be that certain factors associated with better child adjustment and with living in joint physical custody (such as better family economy, less conflict between parents etc.) lead them to report lower levels of mental health problems.’

Source:

  • Australia Bureau of Statistics, Family Characteristics and Transitions 2006-07, 2008: Australia Bureau of Statistics (4442.0)
  • Moon, M, 2011: The Effects of Divorce on Children: Married and Divorced Parents’ Perspectives, Journal of Divorce & Remarriage. Vol. 52, Iss. 5

Do you need help with an issue or problem? Our approach helps to generate deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations can restore insight and understanding about one another.

Tune in for more tips next week… or contact me Shane Smith shane@intentional-relationship.com or @ www.workofheart.net.au

Taking time to seek and grant forgiveness can play a powerful role in healing and restoring your relationship: Seeking and Granting Forgiveness 

All couples eventually experience times of conflict, hurt, and letting each other down. Sometimes the offense is as minor as forgetting a date or failing to run an errand. For some couples, the offense might involve a major betrayal such as infidelity, addiction, or abuse. Either way, taking time to seek and grant forgiveness can play a powerful role in healing and restoring the relationship.

Forgiveness is the decision or choice to give up the right for vengeance, retribution, and negative thoughts toward an offender in order to be free from anger and resentment. This process promotes healing and restoration of inner peace, and it can allow reconciliation to take place in the relationship.

It is important to be clear about what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not forgetting, condoning or perpetuating injustice. Since it is sometimes unsafe or impossible, forgiveness does not always involve reconciliation. Forgiveness is not always quick; it is a process that can take time to unfold. Don’t rush your partner if they need to spend days or weeks working through the process of granting forgiveness.

    Six Steps for Seeking Forgiveness:

    1. Admit what you did was wrong or hurtful.

    2. Try to understand/empathize with the pain you have caused.

    3. Take responsibility for your actions and make restitution if necessary.

    4. Assure your partner you will not do it again.

    5. Apologize and ask for forgiveness.

    6. Forgive yourself.

    Six Steps for Granting Forgiveness:

    1. Acknowledge your pain and anger. Allow yourself to feel disrespected.

    2. Be specific about your future expectations and limits.

    3. Give up your right to “get even,” but insist on being treated better in the future.

    4. Let go of blame, resentment, and negativity toward your partner.

    5. Communicate your act of forgiveness to your partner.

    6. Work toward reconciliation (when safe).

More tips at Intentional-Relationship.com, tune in next week…

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Material used with permission of PREPARE/ENRICH. For more information about PREPARE/ENRICH, contact us at: prepare-enrich.com.au or call us today (02) 9520 4049

PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

Talk about it: Balancing I and we (Part IV)

We all know a one couple that seems to do everything together. You know the one. They share every leisure activity, and rarely if ever, does one partner make plans that don’t involve the other. Maybe you see this in your best friend’s relationship, maybe in a relative’s relationship, or maybe in your own! 

Maintaining a sense of emotional closeness with your partner is important; it is one of the major pillars of a healthy intimate relationship. That said, you can have too much of a good thing. 

Dr. David Olson’s Circumplex Model research demonstrates that a healthy relationship requires a balance of togetherness and separateness. Closeness is important, but so is maintaining your own sense of identity and independence.

Here are some tips for achieving an appropriate balance between “I” and “We”:

    Talk about it: In a previous blog post, we talked about the importance of assertive communication. If you or your partner are feeling unbalanced in terms of your time spent together and apart, talk to each other about how you feel and what kinds of adjustments you’d like to try to make.

Know that spending time apart does not mean you are decreasing the overall closeness in your relationship.

When a strong emotional connection already exists, you and your partner are able to pursue your own separate interests and endeavours to help each of you grow individually, while still feeling supported by your partner and confident in your relationship.

More tips at www.Intentional-Relationship.com
Used with permission from PREPARE/ENRICH: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call us today (02) 9520 4049

PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

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Pick up an old hobby: Balancing I and we (Part III)

We all know a one couple that seems to do everything together. You know the one. They share every leisure activity, and rarely if ever, does one partner make plans that don’t involve the other. Maybe you see this in your best friend’s relationship, maybe in a relative’s relationship, or maybe in your own!Maintaining a sense of emotional closeness with your partner is important; it is one of the major pillars of a healthy intimate relationship. That said, you can have too much of a good thing. 

Dr. David Olson’s Circumplex Model research demonstrates that a healthy relationship requires a balance of togetherness and separateness. Closeness is important, but so is maintaining your own sense of identity and independence.

Here are some tips for achieving an appropriate balance between “I” and “We”:

    Pick up an old hobby — or find a new one. Perhaps you used to be into crafting or photography or gardening, but life got busy, and you just can’t seem to find the time anymore. Make the time! You may have forgotten how much enjoyment or stress relief the activity provides you. Or discover a new hobby by taking a class, either alone or with friends.

Know that spending time apart does not mean you are decreasing the overall closeness in your relationship.

When a strong emotional connection already exists, you and your partner are able to pursue your own separate interests and endeavours to help each of you grow individually, while still feeling supported by your partner and confident in your relationship.

More tips at www.Intentional-Relationship.com

Used with permission from PREPARE/ENRICH: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call us today (02) 9520 4049

PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

  

Balancing “I” and “We”: Get to know yourself (Part II)

We all know a one couple that seems to do everything together. You know the one. They share every leisure activity, and rarely if ever, does one partner make plans that don’t involve the other. Maybe you see this in your best friend’s relationship, maybe in a relative’s relationship, or maybe in your own!

Maintaining a sense of emotional closeness with your partner is important; it is one of the major pillars of a healthy intimate relationship. That said, you can have too much of a good thing. 

Dr. David Olson’s Circumplex Model research demonstrates that a healthy relationship requires a balance of togetherness and separateness. Closeness is important, but so is maintaining your own sense of identity and independence.

Here are more tips for achieving an appropriate balance between “I” and “We”:

    Get to know yourself: Spend time by yourself—and try to relish it! Do things that you enjoy, whether that is jogging, going for a walk, reading, or watching your favourite TV show (maybe that one thing that your partner doesn’t like). Explore new places on your own. Reflect on what’s on your mind and record your thoughts in a journal.
    The late, legendary Stephen Covey (of the 7 Habits fame) suggested that consistent and continued refinement and attention to all of the following four areas in our lives: 1. Physical; 2. Intellectual; 3. Social and 4. Spiritual is the balance we need to be most effective.
    Often we find we live our lives narrowly focusing on work or home. The daily grind becomes our focus to the exclusion of others. The most important thing you can start doing is looking after yourself by focusing on the four areas above.
    If you need to spend some time doing a hobby, visiting with some friends, or pampering yourself, do it! So long as your “me” time is in moderation, you’ll feel a lot healthier and your relationship will reflect it.

Know that spending time apart does not mean you are decreasing the overall closeness in your relationship.
When a strong emotional connection already exists, you and your partner are able to pursue your own separate interests and endeavours to help each of you grow individually, while still feeling supported by your partner and confident in your relationship.

More tips at www.Intentional-Relationship.com
Used with permission from PREPARE/ENRICH: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call us today (02) 9520 4049

PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.