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Welcome to part II of my discussion with JF! My questions/comments are in bold, and JF is in plain text. In this section, we discuss the importance of pre-marital counseling, and judging your readiness for marriage. Did you have pre-marital counseling? How do you think that affected your marriage? How did you know you were ready to marry? Answer in the comments section.

What is the importance of pre-marital counseling, and how important is it? I think that because oftentimes we are infatuated with the other individual, whether it’s because of the attraction, whether it’s because of what we think that that other person knows or understands about us, premarital counseling helps in that regard. I think those things that we have longed for or we have taken for granted because they are second nature to us, in pre-marital counseling, if people are above board and honest, then I see it
as being a critical necessity. I think it also helps us to recognize our levels
of maturity or a lack thereof, because I think, in true premarital counseling,
if you are giving challenges to, you know, really do the work, do the homework, it requires a great deal, it’s a lot, from my perspective, it’s a great deal of reflection. It’s one of the major, key things that my clients have to go and do. The homework assignment requires reflection, so I think pre-marital
counseling is pretty critical from that perspective.

How long should it be? Pre-marital counseling? At a minimum six weeks. And in what range before the marriage takes place should it be done?
Honestly, I think when individuals get serious about each other in a relationship; I think that that’s a good time to start premarital counseling. Because often times I heard my clients say forget marriage because *high, distressed voice* It’s just about you, this relationship! I think as you’re progressing and you’re talking about the future and your considering this person as a life partner, as soon as then.

Where do you come down on who should do the marriage counseling? Should it be your religious leader or a separate marriage counselor or does it matter? I think it does, not just because I’m a therapist, but I think it should be someone who is trained. Our spiritual leaders could be just that, but if he doesn’t recognize certain—you could be dealing with certain personality issues which may very well be a diagnosable personality disorder, and if the minister isn’t trained and doesn’t understand that, it could be to the disadvantage of the couple. So I think it should be a person who has training in that arena. That isn’t to say that all ministers are not trained, just that I believe it should be someone that is trained.

What do you think the impact of people’s mental health is on relationships? How does that impact relationships? There’s a direct correlation between their mental health and their relationships. Because if people have as I said before diagnosable personality issues, then each relationship in some way or another is going to be skewed or affected in some regard. There are going to be behaviors that are not rational that have to be contended within the relationship or in the marriage.

How do you know when you’re ready to marry? When you realize that what you say you want you’re willing to work towards achieving with this particular person and you believe that you pretty much understand and have been able to share with that other person what you are really looking for, and however the relationship has been, you are willing to believe that you can handle what you understand.

What must a person know before they marry? [What must they know about the other person or what must they know in general? Me: However you want to take the question. It’s open to interpretation] I think that a person should know that marriage isn’t a walk in the park. It’s not an end all. I think that a person should know—should have a pretty significant handle on reality. I think a person should know why they are getting married and be honest enough to admit what that is; I think that’s critical.

How important or significant is family history of matrimonial efforts to someone’s success in marriage? Pretty significant. Sometimes people go into marriage with a particular idea of accomplishing something, you know, whether “I want to have a baby with this person” or “I want to wear their name because of their family influence”—whatever, but I think it’s pretty—how significant is it? I think it’s pretty important. It’s a personal—investment, and whether there has been longevity in their family or not (longevity of marriage, you know their parents may have gotten divorced, they may have gone through a marriage before or whatever) I think their investment is…their personal investment is critical to the longevity of their marriage.

What can you do if you don’t have positive family models of marriage? That’s another reason for premarital counseling, to help you to know how to plan for a successful long-term relationship.

What are some of the psychological benefits of marriage? Research supports that men tend to live longer when they are in I want to say a reasonably healthy relationship. The research said that women—but you know it also has to do with the time of the research whenever it is that it was taken because that may not necessarily be as accurate now as it was 10 to 20 years ago, but that women tend to have fared better apart. But I think part of that is because of what we talked about early on in terms of the expectations that women will have in relationships versus what it is that men have in relationships. So I think that psychologically it’s
a plus if the marriage is healthy , or if there is a desire to have a healthy
relationship. When there obviously is a great deal of chaos, then I don’t think
that that’s healthy.