Post # 1
The Fiance and I are spiritual Christians but not necessarily big on going to church and decided to get married at an outside plantation house so we didn’t have to join a church and go through that. Plus i really wanted an outdoor wedding. Nobody will marry us without counseling it seems. He lives 800 miles away and the Army doesn’t exactly let you take time off work to fly to another state for that kind of thing. One place will do online counseling though where we fill out some surveys and they sit with us for an hour and we discuss them. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of discussing personal, intimate things about my 4 plus year relationship with my fiance to a complete stranger. I think it’s really weird and don’t like the idea that I have to prove my love. I’m not an emotional person in that aspect that I’d cry and get all mushy about it and neither is he. We’ve talked about everything and been through a lot together so it’s not like we forgot a few topics. We don’t fight and we already know our stances on all the issues. I guess the whole idea of it feels too invasive to me. Am I being weird about it? I don’t even tell my closest friends or my mom about how I feel! In fact, my mom once asked me if I really love him and wanted to marry him still because I never talk about him. Well, that’s just me, very very private. Anyone else not a fan of somebody else wanting to know personal details about your relationship? How’d you manage to handle it? The fiance won’t let a friend of ours get ordained to do it, either, so that idea’s out. Let me know your thoughts/opinions on them, thanks!
Post # 3
I’m Catholic and our pre-marital counseling was done as a group. When we had to share the most intimate stuff we broke off into couples and discussed it privately. So there really wasn’t any sharing with the priest- it was more like he facilitated my husband and I discussing the various topics privately.
I guess I can see your point about being private- but obviously if your mom is asking if you still want to marry him you fall on the extreme end of the privacy scale! In that case, I’m not sure what to tell you.
Have the officiants you’ve spoken to given you an idea of what they want to talk to you about? It may not be that offensive to you- stuff like conflict resolution, financial planning, etc. And if you and your FI are already in agreement on those things you can just say, "We’ve discussed it at length and our position is XYZ."
When my husband (then FI) and I met with the priest he asked my FI if he was willing for our children to be raised Catholic. My husband just said, "We’ve discussed it at length and I’m alright with it." End of discussion.
It may not be as bad as you think- although I have a friend whose church affiliation I won’t name- whose pastor spoke quite bluntly and uncomfortably about sex and foreplay and all kinds of stuff that I wouldn’t think appropriate or necessary.
If having a religious officiant is important to you, then you may have to bite the bullet and do the counseling.
Have you considered just gettinga justice of the peace? Do they require counseling?
Post # 4
I understand some of your concerns, but to be honest I do think you’re being a little weird about it. Religious officiants don’t just see themselves as rendering a service but as conducting a spiritual ceremony, and it’s not suprising that they want to get to know you and want to ensure that you and your fiancee understand the important religious aspects of the ceremony. You sound very defensive in your post, and I wonder if there is something else going on? The counseling may not be fun, but take it as an opportunity to, if anything, confirm that you and your fiancee are totally ready to get married. There’s no reason to feel threatened or insecure about it…
Post # 5
I’m just not one of those mushy "OMG I LOVE HIM" kind of people, which is where I think my mom got that impression. I have friends who gush about their significant other so much it’s really annoying so I never wanted to be like that. She thinks I should be talking about him and the wedding constantly, which I don’t. I was really offended when my mom asked me that, though. Anyways, I don’t really care if we have a religious officiant, but the fiance thinks he/she should be, to an extent. Not sure why. I keep hearing all these horror stories about the pre counseling where the pastor hands them books on sex and talks about too many personal things, so I’m just really uncomfortable with it now. I like that in yours you got to discuss it privately. Some things I think are just kept between the two of you! You have good comments for not allowing things to turn into an open ended discussion. I really don’t want to talk about how i know he’s the one to somebody who doesn’t really know us or any of the situations we’ve had. The fiance is not real comfortable with sharing things like what we want to do with our money or how we will raise our kids and stuff with somebody else, either. Hmmmmm.
Post # 6
I’m a big fan of counseling in all of its forms. Many churches require it because it has been shown to lower the rate of divorce. Texas has a pre-marital counseling program aimed at decreasing their high divorce rate.
These programs are aimed at opening a dialog between you and your fiance… it’s a dialog that it seems you may be very uncomfortable having (since you are so private). The complete stranger is a non-judgmental facilitator. They are bound by law to maintain confidentiality. They would certainly have no expectation of you to show emotion or behave a certain way, as every individual is different and handles things differently.
This is not about proving your love, it’s about giving you the skills to handle conflict as it arises in your relationship, to give you and your fiance the best chance possible in staying together. The impartial facilitator is there to help you with communication dynamics and other patterns that you may not have noticed on your own.
The discomfort that you feel with many of these topics may be an indicator that you really could benefit from this service. It’s not about the counselor hearing it… Trust me, they’ve heard it all! It’s about you and your fiance talking about it. How does he feel about doing the counseling part? You say that your not sure why he wants to be married by a religious officiant, and that might be a good place to start the discussion in understanding where he is at with all of this.
Now, of course you have options. You could choose to get married by a non-religiously affiliated individual, so that you can avoid this… Most people see counseling as a slightly annoying (to take time out of your busy life), but in the end exceedingly helpful step. Certainly the evidence shows that couples that go through it have a lower divorce rate.
Post # 7
I also did pre-marital counseling through th Catholic church, and my FI and I have also been together for over 4 years. We did 3 one hour sessions, and I was pretty nervous going into it. I thought the counselor might ask us to share personal details of our relationship or lecture us on things we do that the church doesn’t aprove of (like living together before marriage). Honestly, though, I REALLY enjoyed my sessions. Our counselor was super nice, and she never pressed us to talk about things we didn’t want to.
My guess is that if you are filling out surveys online before your meeting, the pastor will probably only ask you about things on your surveys that didn’t match up (like if you had different ideas on how to spend money or something). My suggestion would be to talk to your FI before going in to set some ground rules. That way if uncomfortable questions come up (like about sex or money or whatever makes you feel weird) you can both say "We’ve already discussed that matter and we’re comfortable in our decision." Since you only have 1 one hour session, I doubt the pastor is going to press for a ton details. You just have too much to cover in that time period. Hopefully, though, if you actually go through it you’ll end up having a positive experience. 🙂
Post # 8
- Wedding: September 2009 - City Hall
It’s going to cost us $80 more for a license in our state for not having the premarriage counseling. We’re not having it though, because we are a very open couple, and have talked to others who have done the counseling and basically heard that they talk to you about beliefs, faith, future plans, kids, finances/money, intimacy, and other "touchy subjects" which are completely "open book" subjects in our relationship. It seems like kind of a waste of time to us.
Post # 9
In Florida, you get a discount and don’t have the 3 day wait for marriage licenses when you take a marriage course. We found 2 or 3 online where all we have to do is go through a list of questions and talk about it together, then we fill out a form to show the "instructor" that we did it and they send us a certificate in the mail.
I’m uncomfortable talking about things with complete strangers also. To me, its like "Its none of your business"- the way I see it, as long as we have the talk it doesn’t matter who is facilitating it.
Post # 10
- Wedding: September 2009 - City Hall
We got some great books that we’re working through together. They’re helpful mostly in that they make us feel better about our relationship: like they’re saying all these things are necessary for a lasting marriage, and we HAVE those things already, so we’re thrilled to know we’re doing so well!
Post # 11
My FI is so open to counseling that he’s taking classes by himself while I’m deployed! He said he’ll do anything to make this a solid marriage and to be a good partner. I think it’s about finding the program that works for you. I’d be mortified if a counselor even said the word "sex" in counseling, but the counselors we’re going to don’t ask a lot of personal questions. It’s more of a lecture, like they talk about how to keep communication open, what causes conflict, how to resolve it, etc. I think if you found counseling that was more didactic, you’d like it. You wouldn’t have to talk but they could give you some sound advice (which is really what pre-marital counseling is for anyway!).
Post # 12
Counseling is awesome. No one else is willing to listen to you talk about yourself for up to an hour! Maybe it will help if you flip the situation a little. My fiancee and I are also not religious, but we are having a retired pastor marry us. I wanted to do the counseling with him because I wanted the person marrying us to actually know something about us.
They are not looking to get you to gush about your relationship. They just want to help you start conversations with your S.O. that you might not otherwise on your own.
Post # 13
I am a trained counselor (I have an M.A. in counseling and have conducted sessions many times, although not specifically for marriage counseling) and I can say that it is completely normal to feel uncomfortable about going to counseling.
The very first thing that you should discuss with your counselor is how you feel about being there. If you get that you feel uncomfortable and don’t usually discuss personal feelings out there on the table, it will set some ground precedent for how the counselor anticipates working with you. It is absolutely not about "proving your love." The counselor is interested only in you and your fiance bettering your relationship or learning a little bit more about each other or relationships in general. It is all about YOU.
In your first session you should address what kind of goals for counseling you have. Obviously in your situation you are going only because you have to, but as long as you are there, what would you like to accomplish? Some common goals are to work on particular areas of your relationship (e.g., "We want to learn to communicate better"), to explore sensitive topics with a neutral third party moderator there (e.g., "We disagree on how to handle money and we want to work on that so we have a system we agree on"), or just to get information ("We’d like to find out more about what makes successful marriages" or "We would like to find out how our personality types will impact the kind of marriage we will have"). Your counselor will also be able to suggest other goals. This will probably be a short discussion and won’t require you to know everything about counseling—I am just trying to give you an idea of what it might be like—-so don’t worry!
The third example, information, probably requires the least amount of deep personal revelation. Some applications would be taking personality inventories like the Myers-Briggs and discussing how your results describe your relationship and can help you learn more in it. Another would be to discuss the 5 Love Languages (I think this is a popular book right now) to explore how you show each other affection. Ask your counselor about what types of counseling he or she can offer as regards inventories, learning information, etc., given your reticence to discuss really personal details.
Remember, you are always in charge of how much information you reveal. If you are uncomfortable, you should never feel pressured to talk. At the same time, remember that you can gain a lot even from opening up even a little. Unless you reveal a plan to harm yourself or another person (and it would have to be a serious, concrete plan), the counselor is legally and ethically bound to keep all your information confidential. Your feelings are totally normal. I feel certain that there is a type of counseling that can work well for you and that you can get a lot out of. Good luck and I hope it goes better than expected!
Post # 14
It’s nice to see that a) apparently i’ve heard only bad things about it and b) i’m not the only one uncomfortable with it. It sounds like everything I’ve heard from friends has only been a VERY bad experience! I will see how this goes and try to be open minded about it. Maybe there is something new we will learn about each other after 4+ years Thanks bees. And you are right, I can always say I am not comfortable discussing something to the person and that should take care of it.
Post # 15
my fiance was not too keen on the idea of PreCana (cathoic churches premarital counseling..required if you want to marry by the church). but he went along to please me. it was more of a class and we didnt say one peep during the entire two month course. we just sat and listened and became so aware of eachother and how to make things work (for the record, we had never had a big blow out or ever considered breaking up with eachother..we were as strong of a couple as they come). the course/counseling just made us stronger (which we didnt think was possible). towrads the end we met w/ the course counselor just to go over a "compatibility test" (which i originall thought was so freakin hokey…wtf, a computer is going to tell us if we’re compatible!? lol). but turns out that test just talks about major topics that lead to major disagreements between couples and it just made us talk about things we hadnt really considered so that we would be on the same page with the topic came up in the future. verry cool. so i say find a class and give it a chance 🙂
Post # 16
Someone also mentioned dusting baby powder just before you put your dress on. Use a big brush (like a blush brush) and dust from your waist up to your armpits!