Deciding to get married is one of the biggest decisions a person can make and premarital counseling is one of the wisest. But premarital counseling doesn’t have to be for couples only – singles can get just as many benefits!
Here are 3 reasons to try premarital counseling when you’re single:
1. Get to know yourself
Getting to know yourself is a great way to figure out exactly what you’re looking for in a mate – and what you’re not. It’s hard to make a commitment to another person without knowing exactly who you are and what you bring to the table. Counseling will help you reflect on your fears, dreams, needs, values, and other issues that are easy to avoid until it’s too late.
2. Figure out your deal breakers
Relationships require compromise, so it’s essential to figure out what your deal breakers are before beginning one. Discussing important issues before making a commitment to another person gives you the opportunity to openly and honestly figure out what matters to you most. Whether it’s having children or sharing the same religion, having set standards will give you the confidence to go after what you want and pass on what you don’t. You’ll save time and potential heartbreak.
3. Gain communication skills
One of the biggest concerns many couples bring to premarital counseling is problems with communication. Healthy relationships are built on honest and open communication, so why wait until you’re with someone to improve your communication skills? Get a head start through counseling and you’ll also likely see an improvement in other aspects of your life – at work, and with family and friends.
Having these important conversations before committing is the best way to ensure your relationship will start out on the right page. In the meantime, try to enjoy being single! If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, go for it. You’ll come back refreshed, recharged, and ready to open your heart.
Individual and Couples Relationship Counseling
I have clients telling me how hard it is date and find new relationships. They ask me where they can meet a nice, “normal” guy or girl these days. This got me thinking about places that are safe and comfortable for people to be themselves while also meeting others.
So here are 10 places to meet new people that I came up with!
1. Coffee Shop
Coffee shops were made for socializing! Grab a drink, a good book, and keep an eye out for someone that sparks your interest. If you have a favorite coffee shop, it's easy to make friends with the baristas. Tell them you're looking to meet someone new and they may already have someone in mind. And if they don't, they'll think of you the next time someone cute walks in.
2. Dog Park
One of the best things about Austin is that it's an incredibly dog-friendly city. There are tons of dog parks, so no matter where you live, you’ll find one within a reasonable distance. Dogs are wonderful icebreakers because owners are always happy to talk about their dogs. Even if you don’t have one, you can still have fun dog watching and maybe you'll see a cute dog (and owner)!
Going to the gym can be a great place to meet someone, especially if you go on a regular basis. Strike up a conversation between workouts by asking them for advice or if you play a sport, ask them if they'd like to partner up to play a few rounds. And just like with the coffee shop, if you make friends with the employees they may introduce you to other cute members.
4. Meet-up Groups
There are hundreds of meet-up groups happening constantly that cater to a wide variety of interests. Find a few that appeal to you and you're sure to meet lots of new and interesting people. It's all about expanding your connections and joining some meet-up groups is one of the fastest ways to make this happen.
If you're looking for the intellectual-type, your local library is the best spot to check out. It's easy to open up a conversation by asking for recommendations for a genre or author you like or commenting on a book someone is reading. Once you start chatting, you can invite them to take a coffee break together to discuss your favorite books.
In addition to weekly services, your local church or synagogue likely holds various social gatherings to encourage a strong sense of community among its members. Attending these gatherings is a great way to get to know the other members in a non-formal setting.
7. Friends (who know you well)
Your friends are the best endorsement when it comes to meeting other people. You two are friends for a reason, so chances are you'd get along with someone they're friends with! Don't be shy about asking them to introduce you to someone they think you might connect with.
8. Your favorite hobby/passion
Another great way to meet someone is to just do what you love. You'll meet others that share your passion and even if you're not interested in them in particular, they may be able to introduce you to someone. Try joining a club or an intramural sports team and you'll start meeting people right away.
9. Hike and Bike Trail
When the weather is nice, you'll find lots of people taking advantage of all the wonderful hiking and biking trails in Austin. Once you've started chatting with someone you're interested in, you could make plans to hike or bike that trail together.
Pick something you're passionate about and you'll likely find an organization in your area that would love to have you as a volunteer. Not only will you be opening yourself up to meeting new, like-minded people, you'll be doing good as well.
Have another idea where to meet people that I haven't mentioned? Let me know in the comments!
Ever wonder why you, or someone you know, remain in an unhealthy relationship? There are times the love and affection may be gone, and we know the relationship is unhealthy and even dysfunctional, yet we stay. As a therapist, I’ve seen a number of reasons people continue to stay in unhealthy relationships.
Kids – Having children together is one of the main reasons people stay in a relationship that may be unhappy or dysfunctional. The majority of couples who share the responsibility of parenting don't want their kids growing up in a “broken home,” and having to be shuttled back and forth, from parent to parent. After all, it's not the child's fault if his or her parents decide to split up. Most parents of school-age children try to stick it out for the kids until they’re adults heading off to college, while others choose a time when the kids are grown enough to actually comprehend the situation. If this is you, ask yourself, “Do I want my child to observe his or her parents carrying on a loveless marriage?” Whether or not you’re ready to leave a relationship, marriage counseling can help you work through your concerns, including co-parenting, and make a decision that’s best for you – and your family.
Finances – Another primary reason people choose to stay with their partner or spouse, despite being in an unhappy relationship, is due to their financial situation. If one person in the relationship makes, or controls, all the money, it might be incredibly difficult for the spouse or partner to leave the relationship without having money of their own. We all begin relationships with high hopes of a lifetime of love, but we can’t predict in advance how a romantic partnership will turn out. It’s important to not only maintain your own financial reserve or source of income, but to be able to have an open and honest conversation about how money decisions will be made. A financial planner can help you assess your financial situation as a couple and plan for future contingencies.
Low Self-Esteem – It's not uncommon for both men and women to find themselves stuck in unhealthy relationships due to their own low self-esteem. If you feel that you’re not worthy of true love and respect, you might settle for someone who seems “good enough” but isn’t really the right person for you. You may not be making these decisions consciously, but may be repeating patterns from childhood that keep you stuck in dysfunctional, or even abusive relationships. Ask yourself, “Do all my relationships seem to look the same? Do I repeatedly find myself in relationships where my needs aren’t met or my rights violated?” If so, exploring these issues in individual therapy can help you get a clearer sense of who you are, and what you need and deserve, from your romantic partner.
Fear – Dating may be enjoyable for some people, but others prefer to always be in a relationship in order to feel secure in life. Fear of loneliness, and not being loved, is a fairly common reason people stay in unhealthy relationships. Sometimes we’re just terrified of being single yet again. If you and your partner have been together a long time, it might feel incredibly scary to imagine being alone, and entering the dating pool once again. If this describes your relationship, ask yourself, “Do I want to be ruled by fear? Or do I want to open myself up to true love and intimacy?” Therapy or life coaching can help you explore ways to take action towards your relationship goals.
Codependency – Often, people with codependent tendencies are drawn to one another and end up stuck in dysfunctional relationships. Each person may feel that they can't fully function without the other, and due to convenience rather than true love and caring, they continue to stay together. Codependency is particular common in relationships where addiction or substance abuse is present. If you’re in a relationship where your partner is addicted to substances, such as alcohol, or processes, such as sex or shopping, consider exploring your own codependent tendencies in therapy. A support group such as Al Anon, which puts you into contact with others experiencing the same relationship dynamics, can also be helpful.
Guilt – Feeling guilty is yet another reason people choose to stay involved in unhealthy relationships. If you’ve broken your partner’s trust in the past, by being unfaithful or lying, you may feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame. You may be continuing in the unhealthy relationship because you feel you “owe” your partner something. If this sounds like you, ask yourself, “What do I owe myself?” While it’s important to honor your commitment to your partner, you also want to get in touch with what’s best for you. And if there has been a betrayal in the past, it’s crucial you and your partner receive couples therapy to work through the infidelity.
As a therapist, not only have I seen these relationship dynamics, I’ve helped individuals and couples work through them. You may be able to resolve your own relationship situation in a way that feels satisfying to you. If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional.