The level of work has to fit how much time you’ve got…so you need to be aware of how that affects the counselling process.
Imagine your child is getting married in six months’ time…and you are having the rehearsal dinner at your house. It is exciting and you are thrilled and you want the dinner to go perfectly. And you look around and realize that this house is not where you’d like it to be to have people over for such a significant occasion. This is a great reason to get at all those home repairs and updates that you’ve been meaning to get to…and somehow just never happen.
So…you choose to patch the hole in the drywall by the back door, fix the leaky taps, paint the dining room…and once the dining room has been painted, you realize how scuffed the floors look…and so you decide to refinish the hardwoods. You have time to organize and sort..it’s a good excuse to declutter and file away all those bits of paper that have collected in a few corners of the house. It’s a ton of work, but it’s nice to have a goal to finish it by, and it needed doing anyways…
…and the time of the wedding comes…and the rehearsal dinner goes great in your freshly spruced up house!
Now…imagine your child is getting married in one month’s time after a whirlwind romance. The rehearsal dinner is at your place…and it is exciting and you are thrilled and you want the dinner to go perfectly. And you look around and realize that this house is not where you’d like it to be to have people over for such a significant occasion.
So…you choose to patch the hole in the drywall by the back door, fix the leaky tap, and wish you could paint the dining room but there isn’t enough time with the rest of the event to plan….though you do a little spot painting where the pain is chipped…and the floors? Well…the floors are a little scuffed, but they’ll have to do, because it’s just not an option. The papers and clutter? Well…the job got a good start…and the last of the odds and ends got tossed in a box and put on the top shelf.
…and the time of the dinner comes…and the rehearsal dinner goes great…you enjoy it…but it wasn’t in the house in the way you’d want it. And…the motivation to get things done sorta fades, the paint job and the scuffed floors stay “as is” for years.
Now…imagine your child got married on her trip last week—huge surprise—and she’s coming home the day after tomorrow and you want to throw an impromptu reception when the evening they arrive home. The reception is at your place…and it is exciting and you are thrilled and you want the dinner to go perfectly. And you look around and realize that this house is not where you’d like it to be to have people over for such a significant occasion.
So…you hang a picture over the hole in the drywall by the back door, and hurriedly put away the piles of paper and clutter into several boxes…pile them on the bedroom floor and shut the door. You turn the tap a little extra tight so that it hardly leaks. You buy a really nice bouquet of flowers for the center of the table…hoping that all eyes will be drawn to that beauty and away from the dingy walls and scuffed floors.
The dinner happens…and the dinner goes great. The others say nothing and the focus is on the couple…but it was clearly a job that happened in a rush, and it did not get done the way you would have liked…and the boxes of papers and knick knacks sits on the floor of the bedroom for months…doesn’t feel great, but there’s not a lot of motivation to do much about it.
So…metaphors are imperfect…but I hopefully will still be able to make a point.
My point…when you run short of time before the wedding, you work to make changes that fit the time you’ve got to make them in. When you have more time, you can do a better and more thorough job…whether it’s getting ready for a special dinner or sprucing up your communication and conflict skills.
My point…premarital counselling works. It reduces the likelihood of dissolution of the marriage by 30%. That’s for real. But you need enough time to allow for some major renos, in case they are needed.
Research suggests that the optimal window of premarital counselling is to finish more than 5 months before the wedding.
If, in the course of working on the relationship in premarital counselling, you realize that there are a few walls that need to be moved, or some rough edges sanded down, that you feel there is time and space to do so.
Once the wedding invitations are sent out, and the deposits are put down…it is more likely that issues will be boxed up and put into the closet than dealing with them and really working through what needs to be done.
If the wedding is in a few weeks, there will likely be some hesitation to dig deep into a relevant issue and do the work of a thorough reno on it. Can’t blame anyone for that…that’s probably an adaptive strategy…but in the long run, will have a cost.
I realize that there still needs to be work to get people in the door for premarital counselling…better to go at any point, even the last minute, than not at all.
But think about it….if you’re planning on getting married…give your relationship the best chance of a lifelong success…give your (future) kids the gift of parents that live and work to parent them together, showing them what a healthy relationship looks like. Find a reputable counselor and process your relationship…do it well in advance of the wedding to give yourself the space to make a great relationship even better!