Why pre-marriage counselling may be the best investment you ever make

It may not seem like the obvious thing to think about - you're in love, everything's wonderful, you or your loved one have popped the question and are sitting in the happy afterglow. If you've only been together a short time, you may still be in the 'honeymoon phase' where everything seems perfect!

There's a reason, though, that churches, marriage celebrants and all professionals involved in the wedding industry recommend that couples attend pre-marriage counselling. In a nutshell, that reason is - it isn't always going to feel this good, or be this easy, the relationship will not continue to look after itself in terms of working through differences, managing competing needs, balancing the demands of work and family life etc. It's like building a new house - you want to be sure from the beginning that it's done to the right specs. If your foundations are right, it will look after you, your children, and maybe beyond, with the right ongoing maintenance and care.

If you've survived a relationship break-down, or grown up in a family where your parents didn't manage to remain together, you may be more aware of what some of the traps may be.

The following is a few of the things that may be important to grapple with openly and honestly before you tie the knot.

* Do your core values align? In other words, do you have the same views on what is most important? If not, how can you create a shared understanding about how your differing values may be accommodated by the other, even if s/he respectfully disagrees?

* Do you want the same things in life? What is the future you want to build together? If you have different visions about what your desired future holds, it is vitally important that you work things through. If s/he says they don't want children, for example, it's a very risky and dangerous proposition to think "That'll change... just give it time" In the best case scenario, compromise is possible, or creating a picture about your life together that encompasses each of your hopes and dreams. Worse case scenario - better to know early on if your deepest longings are not compatible, especially before there are children involved.

* How well do you communicate, work through differences, and/or manage conflict? If your current style is based on one person giving in to keep the peace, avoidance of conflict altogether, or fights that feel emotionally hurtful or even violent - this will NOT see you through the long haul! Relationship counselling can equip you with the tools to skillfully and safely navigate your way through this difficult terrain.

The investment you make in preventative or early intervention counselling to help you work your way through some of these areas could save you literally thousands of dollars later on in the legal, financial as well as emotional costs of divorce.

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