Sunday, August 26, 2012

Overheard: Therapy Before Marriage

Exerts from a conversation I overheard on Shabbat

Woman #1: "Everyone should go to therapy in order to get to know who they are as a person before they get married."

Woman #2: "You get to know yourself in marriage. You grow up together."

Woman #1: "Well, there are going to be a lot of stumbling blocks along the way if you choose to do it that way."

This is a common discussion in the frum world because people get married at such young ages and with so few real-life experiences that it's nearly impossible for them to already know who they are as people. The answer nearly-always given is the one of Woman #2 above: That young couples grow up together and get to know themselves through their joined experiences. 

I'm going to refrain from criticizing at this point and just ask readers: 

What do you think? Is this a good or a bad way to grow up? 


  1. If you are clueless, immature, no direction, than #2 has the potential for a disaster. If not, than I believe you have excellent tools to grow up together and deal with the problems.

  2. Aren't we all clueless, immature and without direction when we're young?

  3. I find that the many people seem to have a rather limited perspective about what psychology and therapy are about.

    Most people seem to think there has to be something WRONG to warrant going to a therapist, that a person should be crazy or having "serious problems." Basically, that they are unable to handle life themselves and that -on some level -they are failing or a failure.

    In truth, we can all grow and do (at least a bit) better, we can all learn (or improve on) tools like processing our feelings, communicating better, managing conflict, and accepting ourselves and others as we are. It's not about getting rid of our challenges or struggles, but learning to deal with them better.

    It couldn't hurt, for anyone.

  4. Excellent point, Ish Yehudi. Thanks for making it.

  5. I concur Ish Yehudi makes a great point. The point of pre-marital counseling is not because there are problems that need fixing already, but the fact that the couple may very well be unaware of potential conflicts - either globally (how they were raised, their knowledge about what it means to be married) or particularly among themselves that could create conflict that they will have no idea how to deal with.

    One of the best therapists I've ever met was someone who talked through the individual nuances of both members of the couple. She looked for seemingly little things they had ignored that could produce problems later on, teased them out through discussion, and basically makes the couple confront them now, when they have time and the peace of mind to work on the issues instead of after something has blown up later in marriage.

    I heartily recommend pre-marital counseling from a professional, licensed therapist during engagement before the wedding, as well as during the first few months afterward to make sure the couple is on the right track and is beginning to learn how to work together without letting previous unaddressed personal issues complicate what would otherwise be a harmonious relationship.

  6. Very well said, IY and brilliantly elaborated on, SoG.