You’re engaged! Congratulations on the decision to take your relationship to the next level. Likely, you’ve already put a tremendous amount of effort into your relationship to get it to this stage. You and your partner have probably already endured some ups and downs and ultimately decided that your connection is strong enough to make a deeper commitment.
It might feel on the surface that the hard work is done and that you’ve arrived at the place you’ve dreamed of since you’ve been a young child — ready to marry the “love of your life” and “live happily ever after”.
But, the truth is that much of the work of your relationship is just about to begin. From planning a wedding to agreeing on things like finances and boundaries within your relationship and with family, you’ll quickly learn even more about one another during your engagement. In preparation for a successful marriage, and in an effort to manage these phases of transformation, there is no better time for couple’s therapy.
What is couple’s therapy?
While couple’s therapy gets a reputation for being a means to “fix” a “broken” relationship, it has a lot of potential to create understanding and prevent conflict by introducing maintenance work, especially as relationships are in transition phases (like during the duration of an engagement). In couple’s therapy, you’ll use one or more methods to help understand the reasons for your behavior, your individual needs (and your needs within the relationship), and triggers for disconnection. You might dive into previous relationships and understand the way they impact your current relationship, or investigate the role of your earliest intimate relationships and how they influenced your attachment system. Even if you have spent several years getting to know your fiance’, you’ll learn about him or her on a deeper level as a therapist facilitates discussions about your unique relationship needs and dynamics.
How will this help?
As you begin to plan your wedding, you might, for the first time, have conversations about your values, finances, priorities, family dynamics, boundaries, and other difficult topics. When this all happens at once, it can feel overwhelming. For instance, maybe your parents have their own opinions about the location of your wedding or how many guests they would like you to invite on their behalf, which drastically impacts the cost of your ceremony and reception. This could quickly escalate into an argument, or even a misunderstanding, if you don’t have the tools to talk about these points of friction. For the first time, you may be prioritizing decisions based on values, which may be in alignment or not, and learning the art of compromise. Having these difficult conversations for the first time can put a strain on your relationship during a traditionally exciting time, and a therapist can help you work through these new dynamics.
Beyond the wedding
While wedding planning can be the first opportunity to explore some of these points of friction and opportunities for understanding, it’s just the beginning. Pre-marriage therapy can help you develop both an understanding and a game plan for many dynamics in your relationship, such as how you’ll deal with conflict around money, how you’ll spend your time as a married couple, and division of chores in your home. Being proactive about the top triggers for a couple can help you prevent disagreements down the line, as your relationship evolves, and can lead to more success early in your marriage.
Plus, having a relationship with a couples therapist at the outset of your marriage, can help when you inevitably run into normal relationship roadblocks further down the line. The upside to this is that your therapist already knows you both and you don’t have to worry about finding a new therapist in the midst of a hard time. Since you have an established relationship, you may be able to drop in for shorter “tune-ups” and be on your way again.
Selecting your support
Choosing a therapist who is aligned with your goals and needs is an important part of a successful experience. Understanding which method your therapist primarily uses, and whether your goals are aligned are important criteria for selection. Our team of therapists in Denver, Colorado can help you navigate this important time with your new partner. Contact us to schedule your free consultation and learn more about how we can support your evolving relationship.