Counseling before marriage


There has always been a stigma within the African American community when it came to counseling or seeking help outside of the family. The need to speak to someone regarding how you are feeling was not something that we did on a community level or even an individual level. We are raised to be strong, to suck it up and get over whatever it is that plagues us. However, I’m glad to see that notion has been slowly shifting in a more positive and productive direction. Seeking an outside perspective when it comes to your life can be a very rewarding situation not only individually but also if you plan to join your life with someone else. It’s important to be on the same page with your better half before you make a life commitment. There may be things that you both are not able to come to a resolution about or may not be able to start a conversation about and having a counselor there to guide you along can be a healthy bridge to get you across together. Premarital counseling is there to identify possible opportunities that could arise before or within the marriage and gives you insight on how to deal with those things in a healthy manner. 

I was always skeptical about counseling. I never trusted that someone else could or even would have my best interest at heart. However, my fiancé and I wanted to try counseling because we were facing a few hurdles that we couldn’t reach a resolution on, only to stop talking about them in hopes that they would go away, and of course they didn’t. We wanted to find practical application steps that we could use to not only help us individually but also as a couple. We both prayed about it before we made a final decision that took us two weeks to finally say, “Yes, let’s do it.” Twice a month we were able to resolve and recap the progress we had been making towards a healthy relationship before we committed to each other in God’s presence. What we learned about ourselves while in counseling was that we didn’t know how much we needed it until after the first three sessions. I mean, sometimes we are both like a vault when it comes to stuff. We hold it in and it’s hard to get it out. Going to the counseling sessions really made us look in the mirror and see that the reflections of ourselves were really not who we wanted to be. We wanted to progress and be prosperous and for us to do that, we had to get real. Counseling will make you get REAL! It aides in making sure that you can become your best self individually and in a partnership as long as you are going into it for the right reasons.

For me, I learned that going to counseling was not about my ego or pride, but about wanting to be in a healthy relationship with not only myself but my partner. We allowed someone who didn’t know us to help identify the unhealthy things that we disguised as justification to do stuff that was unacceptable to each other. We were able to get to a place of self-love and acceptance and allow that to translate into how we loved and accepted each other. Sometimes we miss the mark when it comes to this life thing, however, we now have more tools than what we started with to not stay in defeat but work towards a resolution that is healthy and loving. We are flawed, but we are all works in progress. We are learning on a daily basis how to forge and maintain fruitful relationships with ourselves and each other. We have grown significantly in our communication, spirituality as a team, in parenting, financial stewardship, showing affection, pursuing each other/dating, goal setting and accountability. Our counselor was even able to help identify how we could merge our individual dreams together so they could become part of a bigger picture for us.

I know identifying things about yourself to a complete stranger can be daunting and also having your partner there can be a bit nerve-wracking, but have you considered the continuing damage that could fester and trickle into your marriage? Now sometimes things don’t always work out, but that’s what premarital counseling can do. It can identify if you and your partner are ready to take the next step in life and come together as one. Anyone who goes into marriage doesn’t think about divorce, they want it to work. I’m not saying that things will not rise up in your marriage because ALL marriages are tested, but you will be able to be unified and overcome stuff in a more productive way because you have more knowledge and understanding of each other. You must be able to put aside any pride or fear so that you and your future spouse can always be on the same page and it takes work. Sometimes you will have to fall on your sword and be the bigger person. Marriage is not about trying to change someone so they can fit your mold, it’s about growth and maturing together. Love is a verb, period.

If you are thinking about counseling before marriage or even before courting someone, go into the situation with an open heart and mind. You must check your ego and pride at the door if you want to have a successful outcome, whatever that looks like for you. Being combative, argumentative, deflecting or placing blame solely on one person in the relationship will cause more harm than good and if you are experiencing those feelings within your relationship, the counselor can show you more conducive ways to deal with and release those things so you and your partner can get to a more peaceful place. Remember, you and your partner will soon become one, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh,” Genesis 2:24, KJV; so you must be able to compromise and communicate in love and humility so that your marriage can be a testament of God's glory, favor and grace.

Etosha Bahaiddin
Facebook: Etosha Bahaiddin
Instagram: @appleoftheeyes2

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