It’s not a relationship death sentence, and yet so many react as if I’ve given them one when I suggest it.
Premarital counseling. Somehow we’ve associated that with being sent to the principal’s office or having our parents say they’re “disappointed" in us. We treat it like it means there's a problem, but premarital counseling isn’t a sign of problems, it’s the solution to them.
Planning a wedding is one of the most emotionally and mentally stressful tasks for a couple to undertake. Words are often said that you don’t mean and attitudes pop up seemingly out of nowhere. Everything is a trigger to set one partner off, and before you know it you’re walking on eggshells about napkins you’re not even going to remember.
But — spoiler alert! — the problem isn’t the napkins. It’s how you communicate and what you’re communicating. You can convince yourself that the issue will die down once the wedding is over but honey, c’mon. The wedding is just the beginning of your long union with one another. There are much tougher things ahead of you that you’ll have to tackle together. Money decisions, decisions about having children, dealing with grief over losing parents, friends, and loved ones as you age. Having a foundation for how to communicate effectively will keep you in check when those days inevitably come.
Sorry to break it to you, but you need counseling.
Every single living person on this rock does. There are days where you have a hard time communicating with your damn self. Add an entire other living being with different experiences, insecurities, and nuances and you’re setting yourself up for a lot more heartache than necessary if you go it alone.
If you’re nervous to get started, a great way to ease into it is to learn one another’s love language. As corny as it sounds, it’s extremely helpful in discovering how you want and need to be communicated with and how receptive you are to your love’s communication style. Take the quiz on your own or with your partner before your first visit to the counselor. If you’re looking for affordable therapists try Open Path Collective. They’re fully licensed counselors and therapists who offer sessions from $30-50.
So, what can you expect from premarital counseling?
For one, complete confidentiality. Your first session is mainly about getting information, so don’t worry, you won’t be opened and flayed as soon as you walk in. They won’t broadcast that you’re there to everyone you know. They’re there to help your marriage be as successful as possible.
Still terrified to go? Think about your car. Is it annoying to take it to the mechanic before your check engine light comes on? Yes. Does it cost you less to be proactive about maintenance than reactive to your car falling apart? YES. Your marriage is the vehicle on the path that’s your life. Take care of it.
Looking for qualified therapists who won't make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe for being a trans person of color? Here are some resources:
Check out the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network. They offer a Mental Health Fund for prospective patients who can't afford therapy and a directory to help you find trained practitioners in your area!
Pride Counseling is an online therapy platform that connects you to therapists via text, phone, and video chat who serve the LGBTQIA community. Their fees range from $40-$70 a week.
Open Path Collective is a service that connects you with qualified therapists who offer discounted rates ($30-$80/hour) on sessions for those who can't afford the regular costs of therapy. Through the search function you can narrow down therapists in your area and those who specialize in Trans issues.
This article is part of Jordan Maney's monthly column Tulle & Fury, where she looks at the intersections of weddings, identity, politics, and mental health.
Jordan A. Maney is a San Antonio-based wedding planner and owner of All The Days Event Co. She she started her company as a planning haven for all the couples the industry chooses to ignore. Instead of just making a brand, she's building a community. Find more of her sass, humor, and Southern hospitality at allthedaysweddings.com.