What I Learned in Premarital Counseling

Stressed out about getting married? Do you wonder how you'll get along with someone else for the rest of your life? How will you agree on finances when you still can't compromise on cleanliness? What if the alleged blissful engagement has turned into a harsh reality that you two are completely different? These were all issues that my fiancé Chris and I grappled with, and I'm thrilled to report that we were able to resolve them through premarital counseling.

As you may recall, I live in San Diego and my fiancé Chris resides in Sacramento. We had scheduled an appointment with Jennifer Young at the Pacific Trauma Center in Folsom on her day off before I had to fly back to San Diego. During our first session, she observed us hash out the reason we were there. Then she asked a few questions about how we met and what we love about each other. That helped lighten the mood. It was nice to share a moment reminiscing about the good times.

Then, she explained to us why it seems like we've been butting heads so much. She said that I'm a hummingbird and Chris is a rock. That broke the ice and made me laugh. How in the world did a rock and hummingbird fall in love and how would they go through life together?!

couple holding hands
Photo Credit: Britta Marie Photography on Heart Love Always via Lover.ly

She then took our dilemma to her white board and explained we are going to learn to put chaos (me) and rigid (Chris) into a river of "congruence." For some reason, seeing all of that in writing and knowing that we're not terrible people — we're just different — helped us see our potential. Jennifer said she would give us the tools to get along and then it's up to our hearts to decide if we want to make it work. Sounded like it was worth a shot. Both Chris and I believed that these marriage tools were necessary in order to have our "happily ever after."

Some of the big issues that came up during counseling included money and responsibilities. I hear those words and want to roll my eyes. Chris hears those words and wants to whip out a pen and paper and start planning. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not completely irresponsible. I'm a hard worker but carefree at the same time. Frankly, I'm proud of who I am. The qualities at my core will not change — I believe in enjoying life, and I refuse to stress over things.

So you have a dreamer matched with a law-abiding, structured, public servant. I mistakenly thought that Chris was trying to put a box around my dreams. But as we discussed with Jennifer, I learned he has never done anything like that. I have just been so afraid of losing my freedom that I thought all of his actions were controlling. Poor guy.

What I discovered is that Chris means well. He wants me to be me, and he wants to help me accomplish my long list of desires. We can't have two dreamers because we may both go off in different directions and never cross paths. But in our situation, he can be the support I never knew I needed. I'm learning that someone with his personality takes pride feeling useful in helping someone reach their highest potential. I should not slam the door on his attempts to support me. I always thought I had to be independent, but I am learning that it's ok to share my goals with someone else. I am also learning its time to start saying, "our" dreams instead of "my" dreams.

Thanks to this discovery about our inherent personality differences, it's as if I see Chris through different eyes. I've come to appreciate his qualities instead of immediately disregarding them or thinking he is wrong.

bride and groom
Photo Credit: Something Blue via Lover.ly

I've improved my listening skills because I know that's important to him. In therapy, he explained that my hand-flailing and quick-to-speak mannerisms can come off as flippant or rude. I don't mean anything hurtful when I interrupt him, although I've made an effort to curb that habit. See how little things can unknowingly turn into huge problems? That's why it's so important to speak up about anything that may bother you. Address the problem immediately (in a kind manner), and both of you can make a conscious effort to understand one another.

I am so grateful that Chris was a willing participant in our therapy journey. I am so impressed that he too, wants to improve. It's a huge showing of love and humbleness to take the time to admit somethings wrong and productively learn from it. I know we can become a strong, loving couple for decades to come. It's also nice to know that if we do run into any troubles, the fix is just a phone call or appointment away.

If you are in the Sacramento area, I suggest you contact Jennifer. No matter where you are in the world — professional help is never something to be embarrassed about. Take my word for it, you will only grow and improve from it. Think of it as skill-learning.

Plus, check out 39 Questions You Should Ask Your Future Spouse Before Getting Married.

—Neda Iranpour

P.S. Have an interesting wedding planning story to share? Apply to become a real bride blogger here ►

neda iranpourNeda Iranpour's fiancé, Chris, proposed to her after she ran three marathons in three days around Lake Tahoe. In keeping with the couple's adventurous spirit, they plan to have a four-day destination wedding somewhere in the United States. They can't wait to enjoy a fun-filled wedding experience with their guests, complete with paddleboarding, kayaking, running, dancing, sipping fine wine and drinking craft beer. Chris is a fun-loving, dedicated police officer and Neda is an Emmy-award winning news anchor who loves to share stories, even her own.