Did you know that most couples spend more money and time preparing for their wedding than investing in the success, happiness and satisfaction of their marriage? Don't we just assume that "things will work out" or "we can make it work" or "love will see us through"?
Were you ever offered classes on how to have successful relationships in elementary, middle or high school or college? How about at church? Our beliefs about love and marriage are primarily based on models provided by our parents and other caregivers, fairy tales, novels and movies. Because of the lack of objective education/training in the area of relating to our partner, we tend to re-create marriage based on what has been modeled for us unless we consciously discover how to do it differently which usually is precipitated by some emotional pain (namely breaking up or divorce)!
As many as 67% of first marriages end in divorce within the first ten years. Most relationships fail for one of two reasons:
1) People are unaware of or choose to ignore core differences in who they are and what they want from life.
2) More importantly, people lack the skills to resolve their differences and grow through the disappointments that are inevitable in life.
Many otherwise wonderful relationships fail because people are both unaware of their differences and lack the skills to resolve them in constructive ways. Couples who wisely attend marriage preparation courses/counseling increase their ability to resolve differences and are more likely to develop happy and mutually satisfying partnerships and marriages.
Because of my own journey through divorce, I was determined to find out what it would take to create a fulfilling marriage and what a joyful and satisfying marriage looked and felt like. As a result of my quest, I now have a very joyful marriage and together my husband and I have taught classes called Creating Healthy Relationships.
After being ordained in 1997 and becoming a minister and professional wedding officiant, I began offering premarital counseling to those couples who wanted to ensure that they were starting off their marriage on the best possible foundation. I took the training for a comprehensive premarital counseling program through which I can administer an inventory to forecast how viable a couple's marriage will be if they change nothing. It is also a measure of their compatibility. Over 2 million couples have taken the inventory so it is a very stable data base. It covers all core values that need to be in sync within the coupleship. I use it as a valuable guideline in counseling couples. (I also have inventories for married couples who want to enrich their marriage, those who are cohabiting, and those with children with no plans to marry, and for couples who would like to find out if they are compatible before deciding to take their relationship to a higher level of commitment.)
My preparation for marriage program consists of you each taking an inventory I send to your email address. When you have both completed the inventory (takes about 30 minutes) your scores are put together and a relationship analysis is generated that shows the areas in which you are compatible and those areas where there may be potential for marital discord in the future.
We then schedule 3 feedback/counseling sessions for us to go over your analysis and identify and strengthen areas that if not resolved will become future pitfalls in your relationship. Each session is one to two hours in length and can be scheduled nights and weekends. I teach you conflict resolution skills, communication skills, and the best way to handle your finances in marriage. We go over any existing issues and/or new issues that may come up. Many times I find that the areas in which the survey shows you disagree are those areas which you have not yet discussed or explored in depth.
All the couples I have counseled tell me they learned so much, not only about each other, but how to deal effectively with issues that come up in the future and what to expect. A bride recently wrote on a review for WeddingWire.com: "I would also recommend Kayelily's pre-marital counseling. The counseling helped us identify our strengths and weaknesses as a couple, prepare us for things we hadn't thought about, and gave us tools for strengthening our relationship." Couples tell me that the sessions are well worth the investment for their marriage. A great deal considering that the marriage optimization program is usually less than my fee to officiate your wedding!
PS: Here is one of my happy couples on their honeymoon!