Last time I examined whether or not premarital counseling ought to be a considered option for couples before they marry. Today I’ll look at another part of the question: how much couples should know about each other before they approach the altar.
The main reason why premarital counseling might be a good idea is because sometimes people don’t know the sorts of things they ought to know about each other before they get married. The idea was sparked by a girl who called into my local radio station to say that she’d signed herself and her fiance up for counseling. She’d discovered that her husband-to-be, who’d been raised by his socially conservative grandmother, expected her to fulfill all of the traditional female household duties alone once they got married.
The woman’s call reminded me of a moment I had with my roommate in my sophomore year of college. She’d just gotten off the phone with her boyfriend, whom she’d been dating since high school. They’d been discussing their future life together and she had been legitimately concerned about how she’d have enough time to complete all of the needed household chores if she was working full time, just like him. “Well, we’d split the duties,” he said.
My roommate sighed in love and admiration over her boyfriend’s response, assigning him hundreds of brownie points for giving such a good answer. All I could think was, “you’ve been dating this guy for years and you just found out he’s not the type of guy who’d expect you to do everything around the house by yourself?” I wouldn’t have even started dating a guy until I’d known he wasn’t the kind of person who’d expect me to follow all of the traditional gender roles.
Of course, what’s important is that in all of these cases we (the girl on the radio, my roommate, and I) learned vital information about our potential spouses before we’d actually said our vows. I’m not saying that when we start seeing someone we need to make our dates answer a questionnaire related to what sort of spouses they’d be, but certain questions need to be brought up before the wedding.
A lot of times they’re mundane sorts of things, questions of divisions of labor. What do we expect from ourselves and our spouses when it comes to taking care of the home? But there are also other important questions: how we view the handling and spending of money, where we might want to live, and of course, children. Do we want any? How many? When? If someone’s staying home with them, who will do so?
I don’t think premarital counseling is necessary, especially if couples discuss many of these issues before they are married. I think the engagement period is perfect for such questions, because they’re a bit too serious beforehand. Perhaps there might be some cases, as with the woman who called into the radio program, that such discussion may spark argument for which couples might want an intermediary in the form of a counselor.
The important thing is that the lines of communication stay open. Be it between couples alone or with a trained professional is up to those about to be married.
*(The above image by nuttakit is from freedigitalphotos.net).