#252. We Did Pre-Marital Counseling & the Aftermath Shocked Us.

Who knew taking care of your relationship was such a hot button issue? 

Who knew taking care of your relationship was such a hot button issue? 

On Labor Day weekend, I received an email from a HuffingtonPost Live producer. They were doing a segment couples in premarital counseling, not because they believe they have problems, but because they want to make their marriage last. She’d stumbled upon my blog (this one from Mpls | St. Paul Magazine – Three Non-Romantic Things I’m Glad I Did Before My Wedding) and wondered if I’d like to participate in the HuffPo Live’s discussion via webcam.

Uh, DOY.

Not only did a live interview on Internet TV sound scary as hell (#252), the topic excited me. Our premarital sessions were in the top five things Josh & I did pre-wedding. It offered scheduled time away from wedding planning to discuss the bigger picture (you’re not planning a party, you’re planning a life together…remember?). Our counselor helped us identify our relationship’s strongest aspects as well as our weak spots. We discussed fighting fair and how to de-escalate an argument.

We learned a lot about each other & about our relationship. It was awesome. 

I believe our counseling sessions shows we’re A) mature adults who B) believe our relationship has room for improvement and C) that we’re not too proud or overly-confident to admit that we don’t have it all figured out. It takes some serious balls to put your relationship’s nitty-gritty details out there. It requires humility and vulnerability. I think those are two extremely important qualities in every single relationship in your life, not just romantic ones. 

I thought the HuffPo segment went well

Me, on the tiny screen! | HuffingtonPost Live

Me, on the tiny screen! | HuffingtonPost Live

I even had some smart stuff to say and my hair looked pretty good (you can watch the whole thing here)! And then, like a GD idiot, I read the comments. Some of my favorites:

Today is my 2 year wedding anniversary and in those two years we have grown together, like we should. No counseling, just common sense.

If you think you need a counselor, you probably shouldn’t be marrying at all. Just stay single.

Counseling for arguing and finances- totally not prepared for marriage if one needs that.

My blood boiled.

I immediately wanted to post things like, “Good job! Two whole years! That must be a world record or something,” “Yep, we asked for an expert’s science-based advice… better give up on the whole thing” and “OMG! You’re right! If I were prepared for marriage, I would’ve learned that trolling on the Internet anonymously is the appropriate way to confront another person.” There were also comments about me slurring my words and sounding drunk, which was obviously due to a microphone issue. To say these comments annoyed me is an understatement. (I did like the She looks like Emma Stone comments. Who wouldn’t?)

I took a few deep breaths, then thought: What kind of loser d-bag is watching the HuffPo Live and taking the time rip on a stranger’s marriage?

Haters gonna hate, trollers gonna troll. Whatcha gonna do?

I ignored the nasty comments (well, until now). However, this whole thing has me thinking about how we take care of our relationships. You change your car’s oil regularly. You visit the dentist every six months (kinda) because you don’t want your teeth to fall out. Most of us take preventative actions in a lot of areas… but you’re an absolute failure if you work on your romantic relationship? That’s BS.

So for those folks who think counseling is a crutch, those people banking on their ‘common sense’ when shit hits the fan, those people who said “I do” knowing they already had all the answers…  

That’s why I didn’t marry you. That’s why I married this amazing guy.

[Cue Taylor Swift! <<< I’m embarrassed that I kind like this song.]

The repair sign seemed fitting for this post, but not for our relationship.

The repair sign seemed fitting for this post, but not for our relationship.

Did you do pre-marital counseling (mandatory or otherwise)? Do you wish you had & why? Let’s discuss!

P.S. Some other non-traditional wedding things we did: I picked out my own engagement ring, wore a muumuu at my bachelorette party in Palm Springs (the epicenter of nightlife…not!) and we got married in a boxing gym. We did keep with tradition in one big way… I took my husband’s last name & how I feel about it really surprised me

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Comments (16)

  • Jaye 6 years ago Reply

    We didn’t do it, but a friend of mine’s parents gave it to them for their wedding gift and she thinks it’s hands down the best present anyone gave.

    Now I wish we’d done it too. Not because we ‘need’ it or anything, but just because I think it sounds like an awesome idea. I’m in therapy for myself just because I want to learn and grow as a person. One day I’d like us to go as a couple not because anything is wrong but just because we can learn and grow as a couple.

    molly mogren katt 6 years ago Reply

    I think therapy for couples or an individual can be really healthy. Good for you!

    Our therapist told us about a great book called "Why Marriages Succeed or Fail" by John Gottman. If you’re not ready to commit to a full-on couples therapy thing, I think that book has lots of helpful info.

  • Jina 6 years ago Reply

    I think as long as you’re getting the counseling from someone who has views similar to yours WHY NOT? Why not ask others what works and what doesn’t? Yes everyone is different but after a bajillion years I would think there are some pretty basic things we can all learn from all the universal marriage knowledge out there.

    And the Emma Stone comment? Yes. Totally! 🙂

    molly mogren katt 6 years ago Reply

    Yes, agree that finding someone with similar views is key. And though we all think we’re "unique" and "special," the truth is that most of us run into the exact same issues/problems. Also, a lot of what we learned in our sessions applies to ALL of my relationships, not just my marriage. Winning all around. 🙂

  • Alyssa T. 6 years ago Reply

    I will say what I have said to countless of people in my life. EVERYONE CAN BENEFIT FROM COUNSELING AT ANY TIME. You don’t have to be schizophrenic, you don’t have to have a disintegrating relationship, you don’t need bucket loads of damage (although those people would be wise to consult professionals as well!). ANYONE and EVERYONE can benefit from counseling.

    molly mogren katt 6 years ago Reply

    Agreed! As the saying goes… if it ain’t broke, put it in bubble wrap to prevent it from bein broke in the future.

  • Jake Gant 6 years ago Reply


    Very cool. I think its a great idea. I’m going to bring it up. I think the more you can understand someone and how the relationship works or work better, can only be a good thing.

    molly mogren katt 6 years ago Reply

    Definitely! We met with Amanda Nephew in Lino Lakes. Not super convenient, but she was great. amandanephew.com

  • Kit 6 years ago Reply

    LOVE this and so sorry you got internet trolled. I think you’re awesome for doing couples counseling AND talking about it in a way that will inspire other people to be open to it. I wish more people were open about counseling they had done – it would go a long way towards destigmatizing it – so thank you! Will and I did not do formal pre-marital counseling, but more so because I spent the last two years practicing what I was learning at school at home with him and also seeing a therapist. I would have loved to though!

    Honestly, it’s my personal and professional opinion (I can say that now!) that people who have such knee-jerk reactions to therapy are really scared of it. Not because they necessarily have some repressed trauma, but because you have to make yourself profoundly vulnerable to go through the process. It’s really uncomfortable and takes a lot of bravery to truly sit with your feelings and share them with another person, let alone do that as a couple. Interestingly enough, great relationships take a lot of vulnerability and courage (and faith/trust), too. Not that you’re responding to the haters, but I’d argue that being open to pre-marital counseling is a sign that one IS ready and mature enough for marriage.

    molly mogren katt 6 years ago Reply

    AMEN, Kit! 🙂

  • Laura 6 years ago Reply

    I think it’s horribly narrow-minded (or just plain dumb) when people spew their views assuming all relationships are the same. The fact of the matter is that two people who were perfect strangers a while ago got together, each thought the other was super-awesome, and they decided to embark on an fantastic lifelong adventure. Why the heck would you not do your best to prepare for that? Haters gonna hate, and their smug observations don’t make a strong marriage.

  • Emily Hylden 6 years ago Reply

    Oh goodness! I’m feeling my blood boil for you and for those commenters who needed to spew hate somewhere… I’m so sorry! (but I know that’s not really the point of this post)
    I just wanted to throw in my two cents, which is that in the transient culture we inhabit, family relationships, friend relationships, and even acquaintance-relationships (the neighbors, the grocer, etc) are so much more weak, which makes things like pre-marital counseling, any-time-counseling, and whatever kind of support you can muster, all the more important.
    Marriages aren’t two-person relationships, really–they depend on best friends to help us see clearly when we’re being unreasonable, and mothers to give us love and wisdom, and the grocer to smile at you or mention that your favorite apples are back in stock, because depending on one person for all your emotional fulfillment is a recipe for disaster.
    To me, comments that say "we’ve never ‘needed’ counseling!" is like saying, "Hey! We’re doing just fine without any vegetables! Cheese and bread all the time, folks!" …so sure, they’re okay now, but if you’re not getting any roughage, it’s not gonna last forevah.
    Thank you for your courage and for your wisdom!

    molly mogren katt 6 years ago Reply

    Great point & analogy! I think there are a lot of people who think they can, emotionally speaking, live on Twinkies and Coke!

    And agree- making a marriage work requires more than just two people. How good your relationships are with your friends, family and yes, your local grocer/barista/neighbor do matter and make a difference.

    I kind of feel sorry for people who are anti-therapy as their default. It’s closing yourself off to a whole lot of possibilities.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  • Kaylin 6 years ago Reply

    My husband and I were married in a church and the pastor required premarital counseling – Boy, am I glad we did it! At that point, we were together for 8 years, had gone through some tough times and saw the other side and reaaaally knew each other. So we didn’t really think we would benefit from the counseling but we definitely did, big time! I highly recommend it! We will be married three years this Spring (together 11 years) and so very happy with our relationship – mostly because we take the time for good communication. Thanks for the post!

    molly mogren katt 6 years ago Reply

    Wait, you mean you didn’t know everything about your future husband and how to communicate effectively?! #doomed!

    But seriously, I think it’s great that you felt like you learned a lot during your required premarital sessions. I found that our sessions helped us learn how to not only communicate with each other, but in all of our relationships.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  • martha 5 years ago Reply

    Our pastor was also my therapist. maybe the one and only wedding she ever did. talk about validation. she also met mike a couple of times and she clearly approved. I don;t think I have ever heard of any one else being married by their therapist.

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