Published on Scarsdale Patch
Are you going to watch the wedding this Friday? One estimate says 2 billion people worldwide will be looking on as the royal couple walks down the aisle. Whether you are interested or not, the media has gone all out to cover these nuptials. There’s great hope attached to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s upcoming marriage. They do seem like a charming couple. We want them to be happy. We want them to get along. We want them to stay married.
A worrisome edge is there, of course. When Princess Diana and Charles married 30 years ago, the pre-wedding emotion was one of hopefulness too. We know, in hindsight, how quickly that hope was dashed. Will it be different for Wills and Kate?
I read that William and Kate already had marriage counseling. You can find that out too if you google it, although the fact is buried under layers of popular media details like: Why isn’t William going to wear a ring? What will Kate’s dress be like? Will Elton John sing at the ceremony?
Say what? Marriage counseling before you get married? I know, most people think the order goes like this: love, wedding, marriage troubles and then marriage counseling.
And, frankly, that is the most common order. Most people who seek marriage counseling call a therapist well after the wedding and well into marital troubles. Counseling at this point can still be a powerful force in saving a marriage. But, when the order is reversed, and there is (premarital) counseling prior to the wedding, a couple’s odds of having a successful marriage are increased. Researcher Scott Stanley found a 31% lower rate of divorce among couples who had counseling before they got married. That’s an impressive statistic.
A lot of couples besides William and Kate are planning a wedding this year. Weddings are a big deal. But marriage is the bigger deal. Sometimes we act like the wedding is what it is all about, when, in reality, it is simply one day, albeit a very special one.
Premarital counseling can be the best investment a couple makes. Its effects are much longer lasting than lovely flowers, cake and dresses. The Mayo Clinic promotes premarital counseling in this way:
Keep in mind that you bring your own values, opinions and personal history into a relationship, and they may not always match your partner's. In addition, many people go into marriage believing it will fulfill their social, financial, sexual and emotional needs — and that's not always the case. By discussing differences and expectations before marriage, you and your partner can better understand and support each other during marriage. Early intervention is important because the risk of divorce is highest early in marriage.
Premarital counseling is about preparing for the marriage, not just the wedding. This type of specialized counseling works to enrich your relationship and prevent problems down the road. What does it usually include?
- An assessment inventory of your strengths and compatibility
- Conflict resolution skill building
- Family of origin and personality style discovery
- Skill building in the areas of intimacy, sexuality, and communication
- Exploration of each other’s beliefs, values, and hopes
- Consideration of finances, roles, and social/family expectations
Dr. Williams, who will officiate at the royal wedding, says:
Every marriage is a really big commitment for the people involved. It’s a life-time commitment. It’s a commitment that says that, actually, I’m not only prepared to spend the rest of my life with you, but to spend the rest of my life finding out about you. There’s always going to be more of you to discover. And if that’s what people are saying to each other in a wedding, that says something very deeply important about what human beings are like. There’s a mystery, a delight at the heart of human beings, and it’s possible to spend a lifetime and more exploring just that…A marriage is good news because it says something so deep about our humanity. And it tells us that we can have grounds for hope: that there are still people around who want to spend their lives with each other, who want to make this great act of generous commitment to one another. And so, everybody around the world will have some sense of the commitments that are possible.
Lambeth Palace put out a video of this well-spoken priest talking about the royal wedding and marriage. Find it here-- http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/
So, bravo, William and Kate, for showing us that preparation for marriage, not just the wedding, is important too.