Before you say I DO

Each week, we have decided to bring you a blogpost topic and have a group of therapists and mental health professionals give you their feedback.

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This week’s topic is “Issues To Discuss With Your Partner Before You Get Married”.

 

Read what our leading experts have to say about getting to know your significant other before you get married.



#1  Amanda Patterson, LMHC, CAP, NCC

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Getting married is a big decision, one of the most important, if not the most serious decision you will make in your life.  There are going to be some standard questions you want to ask, as well as some more in-depth inquiries for you to make.  I’ve decided to list about ten topics and subsequent questions for you and your significant other to answer before you get married.

 

  1. Children: Do you want children and how many?  How do you want to raise children?  What parenting strategies do you want to utilize?
  2. Finances: How will finances be handled?  How do you want to save for things?  How do you feel about debt?
  3. Sex Life: How often do you want to have sex?  What are your hard limits in terms of sexual activity?  What lengths are you willing to go to keep the sexuality alive?
  4. Family: How involved will your extended family be in our marriage?  What kind of boundaries do you set with your family?  Where will we spend holidays?
  5. Long-term goals:  Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 or 50 years?  Do we want the same things out of life?  How do you want to set mutual goals?
  6. Hobbies and interests: What would you like to do on the weekends for fun?  Where do you want to travel together?  How much time will you spend alone pursuing hobbies?
  7. Friendships: How much time will you spend with friends?  How involved will friends be in our relationship?  Do you have any problems with my current friends?
  8. Health and Wellness: How do you plan on maintaining a healthy lifestyle?  How can we stay healthy in our lives?  How would you describe your health right now?
  9. Communication: How will we handle conflict when we are married?  How often do you want to visit the status of our relationship?  Are you willing to attend couple’s counseling if the need arises in the future?
  10. Everyday Life: How would you like chores to be handled?  What is your ideal situation for food and meals?  What rituals and routines do you have that I may be unaware of?

These are a great place for you to start a conversation about each of these topics.  Ask away and see what you discover about your future husband or wife.  The answers may surprise you.


Amanda Patterson, LMHC, CAP decided to become a therapist while attending Nova Southeastern University. She saw the need to help people achieve the life they wanted to live, while creating a life of her own. She completed her master’s in Mental Health Counseling and started a career in the juvenile justice arena. Since then, she has started a private practice in Pembroke Pines, Florida, specializing in depression, anxiety relationship issues, and substance abuse. Amanda is a believer in holistic treatment and she practices veganism, meditation and yoga in her life. Find out more about her practice here. For a free 15-minute consultation, call or text Amanda at 954-258-8845 or email her at amanda@amandapattersonlmhc.com.



#2 LaToya Carbonell, LCSW

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Faint of heart: Fig. (Figure of speech). People who are squeamish; someone who is sickened or disturbed by unpleasantness or challenge.”(McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. 2002 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.)

You hear it all the time, “marriage is not for the faint of heart”.  Most of the time, it’s not even coming from the seasoned divorce attorney, but rather the happily married couple at the backyard barbecue.  There is no need to fear marriage, but communicating with your partner is required for both people to feel supported at all stages of the relationship.

 

Set your intention

Intentions aren’t just for yoga class.  A premarital class can get you thinking about your intentions for the marriage.  Will your marriage be an act of service? An unbreakable covenant? A strategic partnership?  A safe place to rest?  A daily challenge to be your best self?

Favorite Book for Pre-Marriage

One of my favorite books on marriage is “Lies at the Alter: The Truth About Great Marriages” by Dr. Robin Smith.  Grab your partner, get comfy, and start asking the gauntlet of questions listed in the book.  Some might make you laugh (or not), “Have you ever been arrested? How many times?”  But you might be surprised by other question threads, including opinions on disciplining children; that is, if you are both on the same page about family planning.

Let the Church Say Amen

Will your religious faith be the foundation of your marriage?  If so, it may be a good idea to get your church involved.  Some churches will not perform your ceremony unless you have taken their required premarital class.  Also, you can build relationships with other church members that can provide spiritual support for your family long after you exchange vows.

 

Discussion Question Ideas

What is a dream you have for yourself?

What is a dream that you have for your marriage?

Describe a perfect day, from the time you wake up until you go to sleep.

What makes you feel most loved?

What makes you feel alone?


About LaToya:

I help women cope with the stress of infertility.  I partner with my clients by offering a safe and calming environment to process their feelings.my clients by offering a safe and calming environment to process their feelings.  I also work with new parents experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety after birth, adoption, and fostering.

As a therapist, I have worked with women to process trauma, grief, and loss.  As a trusted member of the community, I have provided education to countless parents and caregivers.

I have a Masters of Social Work from Barry University and completed a Post Masters Certificate in Mindfulness and Therapeutic Process.  I am a member of Postpartum Support International and RESOLVE: the National Infertility Association.  I also serve the Safe Kids Coalition of Broward County to train healthcare professionals, firefighters, nurses, and law enforcement officers on how to safely install car seats.



#3 Anthony Naguiat, LMHC

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In the past several years, I have worked with both individuals as well as couples who were experiencing conflicts within their relationships.  During sessions, there was often a resonating trend throughout, this being the lack of communication between the clients and their partners.  Early on, it seemed somewhat shocking that prior to entering and progressing into a serious relationship, especially marriage, that there was not much discussion around what each person believed to be important within those relationships.

That being said, no one is perfect, and this topic can be an important discussion to have with current clients who are looking get married, or who may already be married.  This blog topic can likely be answered in very different ways, and from various perspectives as well.  As I believe that clients are the experts of their own lives, I think it important to talk about some of the issues they brought up.  Many of them identified some of the following issues as sources of conflict within their relationships and marriages:

  1. Household roles and expectations – Who is going to take care of which responsibilities, chores, etc.?
  2. Career goals – Are both partners going to be working?  Is career advancement/motivation important? Is there any concern over the other partner’s career?
  3. Finances – Have both partners discussed any existing debts, credit concerns, etc.?  What are the future financial goals for the couple, including current barriers?
  4. Children – Pretty self-explanatory, and not always concrete, but have both partners discussed whether or not they want, or do not want, children?  If so, are there any issues or concerns to having children (i.e. fertility issues, wanting to adopt versus conceive, etc.)?
  5. The importance of their family connections – Are there plans or expectations around spending time with the other’s family throughout the year?  Are there issues with the in-laws or other family members?  Have both shared any importance of staying connected to family (i.e. distance lived from them, visiting them, etc.), and are there issues with this?
  6. Housing and where to live – Has the couple explored their goals in regard to where they would like to live, and what their housing goals are?  This often coincides with discussions around finances, as well as family connections and children.
  7. How and when to spend time together, as well as apart – What does each partner feel in regards to expectations about time together, as well as time apart with friends/family, etc.?
  8. Values/Religion/Political beliefs – This one can go on-and-on, but do they share and/or understand each other’s core values within the relationship?  Is there any conflict, personal or otherwise (family-related, for example), related to religion or politics?
  9. Communication styles – How does each partner communicate?  Can they be on the same page and compromise, as well as be assertive, or is one partner shut-off, or aggressive?

There are a lot of things that can be discussed, and many times it is beneficial to seek counseling in order to get clarity on these issues prior to marriage.


Anthony is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in the state of Florida, as well as a Qualified Supervisor for Registered Mental Health Counselor Interns.  He is currently in private practice in Boca Raton, FL.  Anthony’s passion is to work with Teens and Adults who experience anxiety, depression, relationship conflicts, and emotional regulation, as well as those within the LGBTQ population.

His approach to therapy is brief, positively focused, and solution-oriented. Many people only look at “problems,” while he also helps clients to also identify the strengths, supports, and skills needed to find resolution to their issues.  As a result, many of his clients have seen positive results quickly, often within a few sessions.

Anthony is also on the Board of Directors for the Florida Southeast Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).



#4 Natalie Nesbitt, LMHC

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As a premarital course provider and a specialist in relationship counseling, I pride myself on knowing what is important when sustaining a relationship. Although this may be different for each couple, I have found one thing is the same: having clear expectations in a relationship helps with the future success and sustainability of a marriage.

 

Picture this: you find who you believe is your soulmate. You don’t have a conversation about raising children and assume you both are on the same page. Fast forward 5 years post-marriage and you and your spouse are arguing about everything from how many kids you want to how said kids should be raised. This may have all been avoided if there had been a conversation about expectations BEFORE you had said “I do.”

We have all heard that communication is key in any relationship. Part of the premarital dialouge should include what is expected of each other in a marriage, and, if you are choosing to have children, what is expected as parents. What are your roles in the household, as a parent, and in the bedroom?  What are your goals for the future, and do they match up? Am I expected to be monogamous, not watch porn, be a stay-at-home mom, be home after work, have dinner on the table? Don’t assume the answers to these questions if they’ve never been discussed. Better to ask them early than argue about them later.

The more honest, realistic, clear and defined these expectations are, the better you will be able to navigate through life in a happy and connected relationship.


 Natalie Nesbitt, LMHC has been seeing clients in the South Florida area for five years specializing in relationship counseling and individual phase of life counseling such as divorce, job loss, postpartum depression/anxiety, etc. Natalie graduated from Nova Southeastern University in 2011 with her Masters in Mental Health Counseling. She is also a wife and mother of a toddler daughter.



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