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Why you need pre-marriage counselling

We prepare for all major events in our lives; exams, jobs, and even weddings. It ought to follow that we do some pre-marriage preparations, too.

A conscious approach to making your marriage healthy and happy even at the outset, can be very encouraging.
A conscious approach to making your marriage healthy and happy even at the outset, can be very encouraging. (Unsplash)

As women in urban India get more empowered financially and emotionally, the defined gender-roles of ‘wife’ and ‘husband’ have become muddled. Keeping this in mind, an evolution of how we look at the institution of marriage is inevitable. In this regard, pre-marriage counselling or coaching has helped many of my clients.

Our main role models i.e., our parents, have had a very different relationship than what couples are experiencing now. The simple, gendered system from a few decades ago worked well for marriages in that time. Even if the wife worked, she continued to do her wifely duties of managing the household, children’s upbringing, looking after the in-laws and taking a back seat when it came to financial decisions, or for that matter, any major decisions that affected the family. Without any friction, the role of the leader of the household was taken over by the man and it was acceptable in the framework that existed at that time. 

Now, couples are looking at charting their course differently, bringing equality front and centre into their dynamic. This equality and balance in a marriage is achievable. All it needs is clarity and effort by both partners. In a way it’s like a de-junking effort, keeping what’s good and discarding what’s decayed. But when it comes to a marriage – especially for those who have never been married before – it can be tricky to know what to keep and what to discard. 

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A young couple who I coach, N and T, are getting married this November. They came to me as part of their pre-marriage preparation to become aware of how to keep the romance alive over the years through their marriage. They are also simultaneously in pre-marriage counselling. N and T’s conscious approach to making their relationship healthy and happy even at the outset, is very encouraging. 

Besides specific personal asks, here are a few examples of the range of aspects that ideally get covered in pre marriage counselling are: handling the extended family, creating healthy boundaries with each other and other family members; religion and co-existing through difference of opinions of faith, especially say, in an inter-faith marriage; the idea of conflict resolution and communicating effectively to resolve fights and disagreements; finance management as a couple and the kind of lifestyle the couple would like to lead; the topic of individual careers and aspirations; thoughts on intimacy and cohabitation, including questions on having children or not; ideas of infidelity, commitment; the thought of having one’s own space, and much more. 

These are practical aspects that can be easily handled if some thought has been put into them already. A good counselor will help you become aware and maybe even get answers to these with your individual approaches. That is extremely important as there is no one-size-fits-all. Reading and researching about it might appeal to one’s intellect and common sense. However, relationships are all about emotions and we are emotional beings. Also, emotions by nature can be irrational. That’s why each couple’s approach to their relationship must accommodate for their own emotional make up. 

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The Catholic church’s Pre-Cana course or consultation for couples preparing to be married in a Catholic church is mandated by church law. I have a few friends who, at the time of their wedding, thought they were just checking this mandatory box before being married. Twenty years later they acknowledge that it set the tone of their now strong relationship. What they found especially useful was counselling on conflict resolution. It’s an aspect of our lives we all struggle with, and it’s one that is not limited to a marital relationship.

We must prepare for all major events in our lives; exams, jobs, and even the copious amount of preparation that goes into the wedding itself. Given this, it ought to follow that we consider marriage prep, too. It is, after all, ideally, one of the most important voluntary relationships we get into. 

Adding pre-marriage counselling as part of the wedding preparation is important as the lessons learned during that time become a guiding light once the festivities and ceremonies are over. 

It’s common to hear couples say that their first year of marriage was the hardest. And it is. The euphoria of romance and excitement definitely comes down a notch and the adjustment of living with another person 24/7 does not happen overnight. Pre-marriage counselling ought to be at top of the list of the pre-wedding preparations to give you the insights that will be helpful in the unchartered territory of a new marriage. 

Tough Love is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating and relationship coach, who can be reached at

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