Relationships aren’t always easy, but acclaimed marriage counsellor Sonja Lewis believes that those who prepare for their lifetime commitment will benefit immensely.
From the early stages of your relationship, to popping the question and preparing to spend the rest of your lives together, you both have already made crucial life changing decisions together so by the time you embark on married life, there is no surprise when you both hit teething problems. Here, marriage councillor Sonja Lewis talks more about marriage and gives you some crucial marriage advice.
Recently, I asked an acquaintance, who happens to be on the verge of a divorce, a rather personal question: can your marriage be saved?
Unequivocally no, she said. ‘I am just not attracted to him in that way anymore.’
Though she had long ago confided a string of problems that led to her apathy, I took a deep breath and reminded her that infatuation, which can be triggered by the physical as well as the mental, can often go away as illusively as it arrived. Thank goodness, this magical feeling is not all there is to love. What’s more is that lasting love is deliberate and can be cultivated over a period of time. But it does take plenty of practice.
Sadly, my words fell on deaf ears. But here is the thing: according to experts such advice is more likely to be heeded if given before marriage. The Marriage Foundation, for example, has sponsored research, revealing that attempts to strengthen marriage must focus on the early years and include choices made before marriage.
No wonder marriage preparation courses are on the rise. Still, however, such courses are often perceived or misunderstood as a form of counselling or intervention, causing people to see the concept negatively.
But according to Sila Lee, co-founder of Holy Trinity Brompton’s (HTB) Marriage Preparation Course with her husband, Nicky, ‘it is a pre-emptive measure, which makes practical sense. Inevitably every couple will face issues because of different backgrounds and life experiences.’
Also, issues arise because of misinformation and unrealistic expectations about marriage. To this end, marriage preparation proposes tools to help deal with these matters from the onset. As such, Lee’s course offers a structured setting, in which couples can identify the concerns specific to them and then learn very practical relationship tools in dealing with them. Topics include communicating, dealing with finances, keeping love alive, resolving conflict and maintaining a healthy sexual relationship.
So could my acquaintance’s marriage have been saved with a marriage prep course? Possibly, but we’ll never know. What we do know is that marriage preparation makes a positive difference in marriage.
Though my husband and I didn’t take such a course, we took a marriage course three years into our marriage and found it so helpful that we’ve been volunteering as a support couple for HTB’s Marriage Prep since.
Many couples tell us how helpful the course has been at getting them to discuss potentially toxic issues and manage unrealistic expectations before getting wed. Further, they say that the course has given them a lifetime of tools, if you will, to maintain a healthy marriage.
Yes, a lifetime. After all, that’s how long marriage will last ideally.
For more from Sonja Lewis, check out her book The Seasons, which is available on Amazon.
If Sonja's advice has made you think about getting more advice on your marriage, or perhaps your marriage is going through a breakdown and you need legal advice, Naim Qureshi at Blaser Mills LLP specialises in everything in marriage and family law.