Pre-nuptial Counselling

Pre-nuptial counselling allows a couple to consider their preferred way of being together before they hit a crisis. It is a way for them to contemplate their ‘contract’ of being together and how they might prepare themselves if the relationship gets strained –as it inevitably will do. Although it might seem out of context with modern life – it can save a lot of heartache and might be more realistically looked at as a ‘negotiating or re-negotiating our contract’.

The publicity given to pre-nuptial financial packages is making more couples aware of the good sense of considering the emotional and practical aspects of their relationship contract – and understanding that looking at the realities of a shared life does not undermine romance or love.

Negotiation subjects

  • Children – do you want children, how would they be brought up?
  • Finance – who will be responsible for what, is there a financial plan?
  • Misunderstandings – how might they be resolved?
  • Conflict – how will it be dealt with?
  • Loyalties – what part will each other’s family play? How much emphasis will be placed on work,friends, hobbies?
  • How will chores be divided? Will those be altered if working patterns change?
  • Sex – what will happen if  problems arise?
  • Work – what priority is placed on this by each partner?

Symptoms of marriage breakdown

Cultural problems can arise without being noticed by each other as life’s pressures build up and this can cause a couple to disconnect– whether the problems relate to family, childcare, finance, work or friends. All families have inbuilt cultural attitudes – they don’t necessarily have to be from different religions or races – for many couples the differences are much more subtle but still powerful.

A couple is made up of two people from two different backgrounds who bring their values, often taken for granted, with them. Which set of values will predominate or will the couple establish a new set for themselves? A little forethought can save a lot of heartache.

  • bickering
  • resentment
  • withdrawal
  • divided loyalties
  • constant conflict
  • isolation
  • disappointment
  • mis-understandings.

When is the right time for pre-nuptial counselling?

Ideally a couple might consider such counselling before they set up home together, whether they choose to marry or not. At this time they can take a less-pressured view of how they would like their relationship to be. Once the stresses of daily living are underway there is a temptation to revert to the blueprints of the family we grew up in – or to reverse them. Pregnancy is another good time for a couple to reflect realistically about how they want to live together.

How can counselling help?

A qualified couple counsellor should have an understanding of the major stages of development in a relationship and be aware of the common stressors in each phase and their impact on the relationship. For example the birth of the first child is often considered the most stressful point in a relationship, with the period of children leaving home a close second. In both these situations the couples contract of being together, whether conscious or unconscious, may need to be thought about or reconsidered to accommodate the enormous changes as they take place. In that way the relationship can be more realistic about the changing expectations and situations of both partners.

A couple counsellor can offer an impartial, non-judgemental position to allow the couple to think out their own position, while remaining realistic about the pressures that each partner is under. When the crisis is over the couple can continue to strengthen their bond without fear they have been undermined by family or friends taking sides or casting value-judgements on one partner or another.

Relationships are continually evolving as people change, develop or encounter set-backs. Considering the ‘relationship contract’ means that such changes can be adapted to without one partner being left behind. Undertaking pre-nuptial counselling, or relationship re-negotiation later on, can establish a healthy way to let each other know how changes might be contemplated and tackled.

Leave a Comment