Hello Dr. Buckingham,
I have been dating this guy for a few years now and we are talking about marriage. I read a lot of your articles about relationships and most of them have a common theme. You often recommend that people seek professional counseling. I want my marriage to start off on the right foot, but I do not get the counseling thing. My fiancé has some fear and commitment issues and can be cold and detached at times, but overall he is a good guy. I believe that we are in love, but sometimes I wonder if we are rushing toward marriage out of lust. I am interested in learning more about my fiancé and myself, but as an African American female I was raised to keep my business private.
What Are the Benefits of Seeking Professional Premarital Counseling?
Dear Ms. Private,
Thank you for reading my articles. I often recommend that people seek professional counseling because I believe that the ability to succeed in marriage does not occur without some form of professional counseling or guidance.
Even the most nurturing, self-driven and productive women require guidance and seek advice from time to time. Based on the fact that relationships can be stressful at times, it is imperative to seek help when warranted. Women and men who have healthy marriages do not solely rely on their own knowledge as the gold template, but also seek knowledge from others as they endeavor to sustain healthy and productive marriages.
Here are three benefits of attending professional pre-marital counseling:
Benefit # 1: You can gain a better understanding of your fiancé’s fear or emotional distress prior to making the ultimate investment.
Psychotherapists, such as myself, are skilled at assessing and treating men who suffer from fear or emotional distress associated with marital commitment. If you would like to do right by your fiancé and yourself, you should learn about human behavior and development from a professional. Seeking counseling can eliminate the need to play mind games with an unpredictable or emotionally distraught partner. Can you imagine what your relationship with your fiancé would be like if you secured proper knowledge and combined it with your love?
By attending professional counseling you can help your fiancé develop a plan for coping with his fear or distress. Through education and training, you can be taught to validate how your fiancé feels, learn to communicate effectively with him, and find out how to help him apply fear-reducing techniques such as Systematic Desensitization and Flooding.
Benefit # 2: If you decide to make the ultimate investment in your fiancé, you can learn to be more empathetic toward him.
By attending professional pre-marital counseling you can learn how to be more empathetic toward your partner. Learning to be empathetic is very important because most men’s fear or emotional distress is associated with lack of trust in women or their inability to cope with vulnerable emotions. You can help your partner cope with his fear or emotional distress by being empathetic. As you model empathy, you can help your partner identify and process his fear in a healthy manner.
The most effective method for understanding men’s behavior and minimizing fear is to establish empathetic relationships where they feel emotionally safe. Empathy is one of the most important interpersonal skills you can help your partner learn. Men who learn and apply empathy are more likely to be open-minded and transparent. Creating such a relationship with men can be challenging at times, especially when you are frustrated or feel discouraged. Demonstrating empathy toward a man who is emotionally detached and cold can be tough. Occasionally, you might feel like you are wasting your time; however, you must remember that failure to demonstrate empathy toward your man can cause him to believe that you do not have his best interest at heart. Translation: He will not trust you.
For most men, the desire to be respected, valued, and supported strongly influences how we behave. Therefore, your primary goal as a woman is to help your fiancé feel safe enough to discuss and express his fear or emotional distress with you. As you strive to become an empathetic support system for your fiancé, I am confident that you will develop a stronger emotional connection with him.
Benefit # 3: Learn what love is and be empowered to distinguish between lust and love before you invest.
Comprehending the essence and function of love can help you determine if you should enter into marriage, as well as help you determine if your relationship is built on and sustained on a solid foundation. Relationships that are based on love are more likely to last as compared to relationships that are developed out of a strong physical attraction, or lust. Many individuals build relationships out of lust because they do not understand what real love is. An issue that continues to astonish me daily is the belief that individuals are capable of developing and sustaining a relationship built on physical intimacy.
Some women and men have confused love with lust without realizing that they operate in opposition to each other. Love is associated with internal attributes (personality, values, the condition of a person’s heart, etc.) and lust is associated with physical attributes (nice face, nice butt, sex appeal, etc.). Love requires you to be in a person’s presence in order to develop feelings. Lust requires nothing more than a lustful eye. Love develops emotional intimacy while lust develops physical intimacy that is often mistaken for emotional intimacy. Many individuals build relationships out of lust because they do not understand what love is.
Understanding what love is and how it functions will greatly enhance your marriage investment skills. One cannot remove lust or any other vice from his or her life unless he or she understands what love is. We are living in times when more emphasis is placed on physical qualities and less on internal qualities. This trend is especially dangerous for single women who define the quality of their relationship based on superficial connections.
You and your fiancé should explore the foundation in which your relationship was built on. A counselor can help you work through relationship challenges and develop insight into how to move forward in a healthy manner.
Attending professional pre-marital counseling is important and can prove to be beneficial to you and your fiancé. You should consistently try to learn as much as you can about your fiancé and develop a better understanding of what is needed to have a healthier relationship with him. This means that you should use all available resources.
By attending professional pre-marital counseling you will significantly enhance your ability to understand, influence and connect with your fiancé. Your dedication and commitment to obtaining knowledge will pay off if you decide to invest in him permanently. In the end, your relationship with your fiancé will flourish and an abundance of happiness and harmony will follow.
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Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.