Research has shown that Couples who do receive premarital counseling have a 30 percent lower chance of divorce compared to couples who do not receive premarital counseling. They also report experiencing a higher level of marital satisfaction. When you think about it, we need to learn skills and take a test for driving a car, and imagine if people just drove from their instincts without any learned skills. That is how we have been approaching marriage; thus, it is not difficult to understand the continuous divorce rate of 50 percent for so many years.
I envision a relational space existing between a couple that needs to be handled with care, respect, and caution. Couples can unknowingly begin their new relationships by polluting their relational space through judgements, expectations, power struggles, criticism, anger, and so on. Over time, this pollution starts to create disconnect between the couple. Since this polluted space is a very uncomfortable place to live in, they may start to feel like there is an island between them. Some couples may feel like they are walking on eggshells, and that they no longer matter to their partner.
Through premarital counseling, couples can learn to safely communicate their needs, desires, and wishes, while listening to their partner effectively. It can seem easy to listen and communicate, but when experiencing challenging situations and conflicts our brain can invite us to overreact. Therefore, by learning how our brain works and the tools to calm the brain, we will not pollute this precious relational space. It is also important to know and bring forth the strengths of the relationship, and to appreciate the value of the relationship, while working on areas of growth.
Children also live in this relational space between their parents, and start learning certain skills and defenses in order to cope with the conflict between their parents. Consequently, these skills and defenses affect and shape their personalities. Therefore, working on the relationship early on can prevent hardship for both the couple and their children. In turn, the couple can use their communication and listening skills with their children, and help them in a more effective manner as well. The couple can create a safe environment for themselves and their children that welcomes communication without overreaction. The children can now experience their parents as a team with a strong set of principles and values, and they will carry these principles and values with them to their future relationships. My hope is that the 50 percent rate of divorce will decline through more couples seeking premarital counseling, and that their children will be raised in a safe and happy family environment.