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Photo © Roy Katalan

When you got engaged, you probably felt like the happiest woman in the world. You have found a man you love unconditionally and he loves you with the same intensity. But as you start planning your wedding, reception, honeymoon and new life together, you may find the stress and strain of all these activities is starting to affect your relationship. Whether it's differing ideas on how the wedding should proceed, arguments over your future home or disagreements about who will pay for what, even the best relationships can suffer when put under such intense stress.

For this reason, about one-third of engaged couples undergo some kind of premarital counseling, according to a study by the University of Denver's Center for Marital and Family Studies. By enrolling in counseling, you are not admitting defeat but discussing the problems you are encountering and working them out before you have said, "I do."

Depending on you as a couple and your counselor, you can discuss a variety of topics including lifetime goals and priorities, financial planning, religion, family issues, children and habits. You may also need to discuss issues you have encountered throughout the wedding planning process such as financial considerations, pleasing the parents and narrowing the guest list. You may find that talking to an impartial third-party can really open your eyes to new possibilities. You may also learn, through counseling, how to really sit down and open up to your fiancé. Counseling sessions can open up the lines of communication that didn't previously exist.

Many houses of worship offer premarital counseling as a condition of getting married in the faith. These sessions are great for couples who are hesitant to sit down with a counselor or psychologist to discuss their problems or concerns. Since these classes are often mandatory, couples must attend but often find out they really get something out of the resulting communication. These classes are often in a group setting where you will be able to discuss issues with other engaged couples.

Many couples have an idealized notion of what it's going to be like when they are married and many of those notions are crushed just weeks after the honeymoon ends. Marriage is the merge of two different people with separate ideals, opinions, upbringings and experiences. If you can enter your marriage with realistic expectations, you have a better shot at making it to your 50th anniversary.



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