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How to make your marriage last longer than the wedding

“Marriage is the deepest and potentially most gratifying of all human relationships, but it is also one of the most demanding” – David Mace.


Will your marriage last? Studies show that the first two years of marriage can foretell the long-term outcome of almost every marriage. How well couples get along as newlyweds affect their future, but the major distinguishing factor between those divorced and those who remained married was the amount of change in the relationship over the first two years and whether or not the couple had realistic expectations of what marriage entails. According to Dr. Jason Caroll and Dr. William Doherty couples who participate in pre-marital counselling experience a 30% increase in marital success. They report improved communication, better conflict management skills, higher dedication to their spouses, greater emphasis on the positive aspects of their relationship and improved overall relationship quality. These benefits appear to hold for 6 months to 3 years after the counselling. It has also been found that premarital counselling can reduce the odds of divorce by 30%.

It is alarming though, that even in the light of the above statistics, most engaged couples are not investing in premarital counselling. Research indicates that couples at highest risk for marital problems are the least likely to participate in it. While the reasons are unclear as to why this paradox exists, a common reason cited by couples is that they are happy with their relationship, and do not see the possibility of big problems in the future. It is true that when we are in love, and filled with excitement about the wedding and dreams about the future, it is easy to gloss over the vast differences between spouses and see our relationship through rose-tinted glasses.

When two people join their lives together, they create a unique set of strengths and potential challenges, because they bring in unique sets of personalities, values, childhood experiences, relationship experiences and so on. The purpose of premarital counselling is to help couples gain greater awareness of these issues so that they can prepare and plan constructive ways of dealing with them and build a solid foundation for their marriage future.

Premarital counselling is based on the reality that it’s important to strengthen your relationship and prepare constructively for future challenges (that everyone will inevitably face at some point in their marriage), now while you have so much positive energy in your relationship. It will help you and your partner to navigate the many stages of relationship and will help you grow a more conscious, mature and satisfying relationship. Premarital counselling is typically focused on strengthening communication skills, discussing role expectations, learning conflict management skills, exploring spiritual and other beliefs, identifying issues that is brought in from our childhoods and developing goals for the future.

Premarital counselling will probably amount to 2-4% of your total wedding cost, but will have a positive impact on your relationship for the rest of your life. So, next time you get upset about the length of your dress or the flavour of your cake, remember that you are preparing for a lifetime of happiness, and your long-term happiness and the sustainability of your relationship is what will count in the long run. So, wherever and in whichever way, focus on investing in your relationship future and long-term happiness – this is what it is really about.


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