Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kim & Kris: The Case for Pre-Marital Counseling

Ironically, Kim Kardashian filed for divorce this week from professional basketball player Kris Humphries, after just 72 days of marriage. Her mom/manager, Kris Jenner, told viewers on Good Morning America this morning (while on tour promoting her own book) that this was something that didn't just happen one day, and that Kim has been unhappy for some time. Really?

Some of the media reports suggest that Kim and Kris couldn't agree on whether to live in California, or in Minnesota, where Kris plays for the Timberwolves. Wouldn't it have been a good idea to discuss all of these issues and sort them out with a professional marriage and family therapist BEFORE planning the lavish, televised wedding?

Sometimes couples feel awkward about initiating conversations with their fiancé about their needs, preferences, and expectations of each other. One very smart move is getting some time set up to meet with a good therapist, and let us be the bad guy and ask all the hard questions. I love to prevent relationship problems and poor matches when I can. Marriage and family therapists know the most common pitfalls marriages have, and we have the resources to assess both of your family backgrounds, communication styles, beliefs about parenting, ability to resolve conflict, and much more.

Wouldn't you really like to know what your partner thinks the two of you will do about managing money? It would help so much if you had a joint plan on how you are going to work through differences in a respectful way, and got a chance to practice it with a coach who can teach you a safe format for requesting changes from each other. What an advantage it is for a couple to agree on lifestyle differences like having or not having children, or where you will live. I also want couples to plan how they will maintain closeness and intimacy after the wedding, including date nights, couples rituals, time away together to reinvigorate you,and the pursuit of high energy fun together.

Over my years in private practice, I have worked with couples who were able to identify that their lifestyles or values were really not compatible. That's a valuable outcome, too, because you have just saved both people the pain of an unhappy marriage, a divorce, and the collateral damage to children from that marriage. There are some incompatibilities that are bigger than how much you love each other. It turns out that love is not enough for a great, satisfying marriage. It takes two mature people with a clear understanding of the roles they want and expect, and common ground on the big issues:affection and sex, faith, children, relationships with both families, money, fair and direct communication, openness, and faithfulness.

Perhaps we have a mistaken belief in our current world that you find the right person, plan a destination wedding, and live happily ever after. Being aware of the most common problems that couples have, and getting clarity on finding and being the right partner is very important. Understanding your partner on a deeper level---and understanding yourself-- is also needed. Illuminating the patterns you each saw in your families growing up, and what you want to repeat or change, helps. Don't assume anything about your partner. The best insurance for a fantastic, alive marriage is being able to understand and appreciate your differences, genuine agreement on the big issues, and having solid skills to work things through when things come up. Pre-marital counseling can give you the opportunity to give yourselves the best chance for real, lasting happiness together.

No comments:

Post a Comment