The debate has been raging. The mountain of ‘points’, for and against the imperative, or otherwise, of pre-nuptial counselling keeps growing. It is not an exactly straight-forward debate so there may never be an end to it. But what do you think? Are you for or against?
What is counselling? NHS Choices, UK’s leading health website describes counselling as “… a type of talking therapy that allows a person to talk about their problems and feelings in a confidential and dependable environment. A counsellor is trained to listen with empathy (by putting themselves in your shoes). They can help you deal with any negative thoughts and feelings you have.”
This implies that counselling entails one or more interactive sessions with the person(s) being counselled (the counselee) and the counsellor(s), discussing in an open-minded, truthful and respectful manner. The counsellor, employing tact and empathy, asks several questions to ‘dig out’ facts from the parties in order to offer appropriate and practical advice on how to manage the issues the interactive session(s) throw up.
Therefore, counselling sessions are always about the counselee and never about the counsellor. The counsellor might learn a thing or two from the session(s) but it is essentially in the interest of the counselee.
Counselling provides insights that enable intending couples to fully appreciate some or all of the following:
• How to bond with each other;
• The unique similarities and differences between them;
• The best way of communicating with each other;
• How to manage their differences including temperaments;
• How to manage their finances;
• How to plan for the birth of their children and how to train them – including managing adolescents and young adults;
• How to manage in-laws;
• How to balance family and career or business;
• How to plan and invest in the future;
• How to build and sustain trust and respect;
• How to prepare for the post-marriage years of their children; etc.
Perhaps, like me, you are wondering: if marriage counselling is for the ultimate good of counselees, why do many intending couples dread it? Also, why do several couples who had counselling before they got married end up separated or divorced? While you are pondering your position, let us consider a few issues.
Which of these posers do you think is true?
1. If one or both would-be couples tell half-truths or outright lies during their counselling session, the counsellor’s advice cannot lead to a good marital experience? Bear in mind that nothing ruptures the foundation of a marriage like half-truths and outright lies.
2. If one or both would-be couples refuse to meet the other party half-way on areas they do not agree about, the counsellor cannot help them build a good marriage?
3. If a would-be couple does not seek GOOD counsel or avoid counselling before they get married, they are building an ornament filled palace on sand?
4. If one or both of them employ ‘effizy bouquet’ (pretending to be what the other party needs in a spouse just to get to the altar), the marriage mirror will be shattered soon after the wedding, leaving many people with regrets and who knows what?
5. While it is imperative for spouses-to-be to be completely truthful about their past, it is also imperative for both of them not to use the information they have about the other spouse’s past – either
during their own interactions or during counselling – as tools of abuse or embarrassments whenever disagreements arise?
Counselling is as good as the experience, reliability, words and attitude of the counsellor during a counselling session? By reliability, one means keeping secrets heard during counselling sessions secret. Therefore, not everyone can give good counsel and not every counsellor can be a marriage
Would it then be reasonable to say that celebrity divorce or separation is caused by a lack of counselling? No, not necessarily. Such a statement is too sweeping and defective. Some mock failed celebrity couples asking: What does it benefit a couple to have a society wedding, pulling all the stops
and shops, and end it all in society divorce? Have we not all noticed that there is a general increase in broken marriages? As it is with celebrity marriages so it is with non-celebrity marriages. The only difference is that celebrity marriages attract attendant undue high focus.
In a nutshell, the same high level, intensely demonic determination to steal, kill and destroy marriage and family life that was brought against Adam and Eve is still at work today – celebrity couple or no. The intention is to ensure that the family, which is the nucleus of communities, is driven to self-shred and total ruin while the spouses involved erroneously see themselves as the enemy of one another!
However, it is true that most celebrity marriages fail due to heavy ‘efizy bouquet’ brought to bear during courtship, on one hand, and expecting too much from the other party, on the other hand. In addition, the ‘do you know who I am?’ attitude make most celebrities stand-offish even to their spouses. Who can endure being often put down or reminded that one is ‘lucky’ to be married to a star? Another issue that affects celebrity marriages is if both of them are celebrities or affluent. Many immature celebrity couples jump into negative and negating competition that gradually erodes the anchor holding up the marriage. Besides counselling, the other issues that can affect marriages, generally, are the priority the couple give to God, His Word and the content and effectiveness of their prayers; the frequency and quality of ‘us’ time the couple deliberately create for themselves; the value-system of each of them; and, how well they insist that ‘three is a crowd’.
The question therefore should be: is counselling necessary for the success of a marriage? Yes. But not just counselling but good counselling – as described earlier in this piece. The next question is: how can counselling make the difference in marriage? The answer lies in what the couple tell the counsellor, how they receive the counsellor’s advice and how the couple manage what they know about each other. (See the five posers listed earlier in this piece.)
In conclusion, counselling on its own does not determine a good marriage. The quality of counselling and the post-counselling attitude of one or both counselees will make all the difference.