David Kan from Eagles Mediation & Counselling Centre (EMCC), is a trained practitioner in premarital guidance and marital counselling with more than 18 years of professional experience.
Here, he shares the downs and ups of marriage and how premarital counselling and preparation can effectively promote a strong foundation of mutual understanding and trust in long-term relationships.
1) Are there any unforseen issues couples should take note of before marriage? And how should these issues be resolved?
As a couple becomes a pair, gaining awareness and knowledge of each other’s behaviours interpersonally may be viewed as a novelty or irritation to the other. Both will come to learn about each other’s habits, values and idiosyncrasies - some familiar and others new or eye-opening.
While premarital couples spend a great deal of time and attention on building the castle of romance and charting out the wedding plan, it is vital for them to recognize and appreciate the relationship dynamics of personality uniqueness, differences in family background and role expectations.
These key areas need to be understood and worked through to establish a strong foundation in getting along with each other on a long-term basis.
It is a process which takes time and effort to strengthen commitment to the relationship and nurture attunement in mutual understanding of each other.
2) Are there any changes to their relationship that they can expect after marriage?
People marry believing that they would have a blissful marriage. However, happiness does not necessarily follow from a courtship romance.
Embarking on the marital journey is an intentional and on-going effort to nurture and grow the relationship. It is a journey which is marked by all kinds of expectations and by the closeness of individuals involved.
Wedding preparation focuses on concrete tasks. One of the basic tasks of marriage is to establish a sense of ‘we-ness’ between husband and wife. Decisions and plans have to be made taking into consideration of other party. New roles as husband and wife, son-in-law, daughter-in-law are to be undertaken.
As they move along in this early level of marriage, rules are subconsciously set in a subtle, unplanned and unspoken way for each other. With the onset of post-courtship, life steers to a different plane in their marital commitment.
3) Finance, starting a family and dealing with in-laws - what are the most common problems couples here have after marriage?
In many marriages, stress builds up around financial interest mainly due to a ‘yours and/or mine’ personal outlook. For dual-income couples, especially in the early stages of marriage, it is the choosing between separate and joint accounts.
It is not uncommon for one partner to be a live-for-today spender and the other to be a compulsive saver. And while these money styles can be exasperating, there are measures which couples can take to understand each other’s financial personality, decision-making perspectives and priorities. For example: identifying and setting financial goals together.
Many couples seem to think that getting married is a very personal matter between a man and woman. In a realistic context, the marital partnership not only assigns both to the roles of husband and wife respectively, but takes on the identity of an in-law as well.
It means integrating into another family with its own set of expectations, culture and unique interaction dynamics. Inevitably, there will be occasions where interpersonal differences and disagreement may occur. Issues such as conflicting ideas over how to raise children, pressure to conform to religious or cultural norms and personality differences etc.
Facing the challenges to cope and get along with their in-laws, the partner concerned may start to dread family gatherings for the distress and exchanges they can invite. It is wise to learn how to develop a harmonious relationship with in-laws for long-term marital stability.
4) Why should couples consider attending a marriage preparation course? How will it benefit the couple?
Extensive studies and research on program effectiveness found that pre-marital education does make a difference in couples’ lives and relationships. It essentially establishes and nurtures a strong foundation of mutual understanding, appreciation and emotional bonding.
Other improvements are in specific skill areas, such as communication (speaking for self, using feeling statements, empathetic responses) and positive conflict management.
This eventually further promotes marital happiness, satisfaction, relationship quality, and intimacy; all of which are longer-term aspects of relationships.
5) Please share more about Eagles Mediation & Counselling Centre's Seven Principles Program that's coming up.
The Seven Principles Program for couples is a workshop based on the internationally acclaimed 40 years clinical research of Dr. John Gottman.
The 7 principles program is designed for ALL couples in a committed relationship.
This program which includes useful couples’ activities will provide new insights and research based relationship skills that can improve the intimacy and friendship in marital relationship and help couples resolve conflict in a healthy productive way.
In this 7-hour workshop, couples will learn to:
1. Develop and deepen their Love Maps (know each other better).
2. Foster fondness and admiration for each other.
3. Facilitate turning towards each other to build up each other's "Emotional Bank Account".
4. Accept each other's influence.
5. Manage conflicts by solving the solvable problems.
6. Manage conflicts by overcoming unresolvable gridlock.
7. Create shared meaning as husband and wife.
Workshop date: 21 July 2018
Venue: Eagles Mediation & Counselling Centre
177 River Valley Road #05-19 (Level M5)
Registration link here.