Counseling before marriage

Divorce rates have grown to unprecedented levels in the United States since the beginning of the twenty-first century. While this pattern has subsided, recent reports show that some 45 percent of first marriages are in the first 15 years of separation or divorce. These figures are of major concern (Benokraitis, 2015). The subject of this research has been pre-marital therapy as efforts are currently being focused on delivering efficient counseling services to young adults, Americans, who are stabilizing and reversing this phenomenon. The information used for this study was gathered from literature reviews of various online academic journals, studies, and news articles. Information from the websites of several health service providers located within the target community was used as well. Pre-marital counseling has gained respect as crucial prerequisite for the future success of marriage relationships, particularly for circumstances where the relationship prior to the marriage has lasted a for a long period of time, has been filled with conflicts, or is at risk of collapse as a result of other factors that may vary according to the circumstances. Relationships and marriages vary greatly, a fact that could be attributed to the various social, cultural, and economic circumstances in which they were formed. The term at risk could refer to various probably sources of conflict. In simple terms, if there were a chance that conflict could occur in a future marriage, the process of premarital counseling would deal with all conceivable sources of the conflict before they can grow into much more complex situations, which would jeopardize the longevity and health of a marriage (Anderson, 2004). Premarital counseling could be defined in several ways, with the distinguishing feature between them being the reason why such an intervention is necessary. Irrespective of this fact, there are quite a number of functional definitions, which incorporate the most crucial elements of this form of proactive conflict management in a rather remarkable manner. As stated from a scholarly perspective. Pre-marriage counseling broadly refers to any procedure formulated to enrich and improve pre-marriage partnerships in the effort to create more stable and satisfactory marriages with the intended result being the prevention of divorce or separation. Most definitions for pre-marriage counseling acknowledge that the principle goal of the process is to solidify and strengthen relationships before they move on to the phase of official marriage to limit to the greatest degree possible the chances of divorce and to teach couples the most efficient strategies for dealing with conflict in the future. Although this activity is greatly beneficial for all couples planning to get married, the processes involved in pre-marital counseling are most beneficial for couples who are perceived to be at risk of frequent conflict even before marriage.

There are several approaches to premarital counseling that different leaders in the community of study were found to apply. But in spite of the fact that there are differences in setting and intended results, the common practices in these approaches were directed towards helping both the male and female parties in the relationship develop the adaptive, communicative and emotional skills necessary to have a functional, happy marriage. The community studied in this research was observed to have a modernist approach to premarital counseling. It was observed that there was a primarily skill based methodology of counseling and teaching. The approach to counseling used was focused on teaching couples effective conflict resolution skills. There was also an emphasis on communication strategies as a strategy for achieving a stable marriage combined with education on other more psychological issues such as the establishment and maintenance of trust, for example. Couples who are perceived to be at risk are treated differently, often times requiring the application of an approach based more on therapy than counseling. This is so because therapy-based interventions are most effective in cases where there has been a history of mental illness or abuse. In addition, the nature of the interventions used varied according to the setting. For instance, there were contextual dissimilarities between the form of counseling offered by the church and those offered by a private practice. According to empirical data from various studies, skill based counseling interventions, which educate couples on effective conflict resolution, and communication skills have proven to be the most effective for couples who have not yet entered marriage. Besides increasing awareness of the more practical issue, it was observed, especially for the couples who were categorized as at risk, that this method of premarital counseling had the effect of making both parties in the relationship carefully reconsider their plans to get married. This kind of counseling was lighthearted and was focused on helping couples comprehend the implications of marriage without actually discussing potential sources of conflict. This is widely believed to be an effective strategy and is applied by many institutions, which engage in premarital counseling such as the Catholic Church. contrary to the common preference for couples to get married according to their preferred times, the catholic church in the area required that couples inform the church administration of their intentions six months before they intended to be wedded by the church. this was meant to give the couple time to carefully consider their decision to commit to each other and to give the church enough time to deal with potential sources of conflict between the couple and favors the development of a balanced psychological approach to marriage which is based more on long-term commitment,

While most health care services are provided through the private market, the largest organized health care initiatives are run by the federal government. State administrations also play a crucial role in how health services are delivered to the public. Family therapy services such as couples counseling are normally available free at local health facilities as part of the Medicaid program. Couples can also make appointments with private therapists via the internet. The benefits from pre-marriage counseling are undeniable. However, there is evidence that suggests that the communication skills and conflict resolution techniques couples acquire are much more effective when couples continue even after marriage, a decision that was not common in the community chosen for the study. A study of married couples revealed that for those who had been married for less than one year, close to 90 percent acknowledged that couples counseling had been a greatly beneficial undertaking. Married couples who had been together for about seven or eight years, roughly fifty percent held the view that it had been a valuable effort. Considering this, other studies have forwarded evidence of a positive relationship between the continuous use if couples therapy because it helps keep fundamental channels of communication open both parties in the relationship, and provides an important opportunity for the resolution of conflict (Stanley et al, 2003). In addition, it renews the couple’s relationship by drawing their attention to the nature of their relationships and forcing them to refocus on each other. On many occasions in long established relationships, couples lose focus on each individual’s needs and pay less attention to their relationship. Studies have shown that couples therapy greatly improved the relationships of about sixty to seventy-five percent of all couples. Although this study was based on couples who were married, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that a combined approach, incorporating proper pre-marriage counseling and continued couples therapy after marriage would be the most effective strategy for ensuring that marriages, once established remain positive, rewarding, healthy, and long-lasting. Another challenge to pre-marriage counseling is the phenomenon of self-selection. In order to accurately establish the results of counseling, it is necessary to assign couples to control and test groups and compare the results obtained in order to eliminate the possibility of correlation the effect of self-selection on the efficiency of couples counseling can be rather significant. Couples who choose to engage in counseling before marriage may share a common trait the desire to plan for and establish a stable and practical marriage. This inclination cannot be taught in premarital counseling. It must be acquired through social and cultural learning. Marriage is an aspect of American culture, which is reducing in popularity. The rates of marriage are at their lowest levels in more than a century, a fact that presents negative implications for the stability of the government, economic prosperity, and parenting. As a recommendation to deal with the challenges posed by declining marriages it is suggested that the community should formulate and enforce a mandatory policy making it a legal requirement for couples to engage in pre-marriage counseling. The policy should require all couples to attend counseling classes for a minimum period with a qualified and acknowledged counselor of their choosing. The community should also provide funding for a counselor in the event that the couples seeking to be wedded are unable to pay for one. Although the policy may have the short-term effect of deterring some cohabiting couples from seeking marriage, there is great value in its long-term results. The decline in the popularity of marriage in American society is partly because many of them had disastrous consequences. This could be attributed to the fact that couples previously entered marriage before they were fully aware of its implications. Pre-marriage counseling would improve the reputation of marriage by fostering the growth of happier, more successful marriage relationships. This would encourage younger generations to get married as well.

References

Benokraitis, N.J. (2015). Marriages and families: changes, choices.  Changes and constraints (8th Edition). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Doherty, W. J., and Anderson, J. R. (2004), Community marriage initiatives. Family Relations, 53: 425–432. doi:10.1111/j.0197-6664.2004.00050.x

Halford, W. K., Markman, H. J., Kling, G. H., & Stanley, S. M. (2003). Best practice in couple relationship education. Journal of marital and family therapy, 29(3), 385-406.

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