Non Denominational Weddings

NYC Pre-Marital Counseling Program: Partnering for Life

Your interest in my Website tells me that you want a meaningful and intimate wedding ceremony.

If you’ve clicked on this page, you probably also have a stronger determination than most to make your mutual commitment and joy in each other last a lifetime. Of course, it’s entirely up to you whether you’d like to participate in the NYC pre-marital counseling program described below. Some couples choose not to participate, which is fine, but the experience of Audrey and Mark is worth knowing about.

Before marrying, they had expressed concern about their sometimes differing attitudes about gender issues, handling finances, raising children, spiritual beliefs. They wanted to be better prepared to deal with such challenges as a modern married couple, so they elected to participate in my PARTNERING FOR LIFE® program.

Here’s what they wrote me afterward:

“Thank you, Jim, for spending the time to help us enrich our relationship even more.

We are looking forward to our special day, and even more excited about our new life together.

Thank you for your wisdom and insight... and for the laughs. We had some good ones!”

For close to 30 years I’ve enjoyed my practice in psychotherapy, specializing in working with couples. Again and again, I’ve seen how knowledge of a partner’s point of view about important issues in a relationship — and each partner’s knowing how to communicate effectively when those beliefs conflict — are key to keeping a marriage loving and happy. Out of this experience, I developed a special partnering program designed to make a measurable difference in the many years a couple spends together. And I take a contemporary, undogmatic, nondenominational approach that my clients greatly appreciate.

Doesn’t this make good sense: The more you know about your own and your partner’s strengths and vulnerabilities, the clearer you will be as to what you agree and disagree about. And the greater your ability to deal with problems and conflicts that surface in every marriage, the better chance you have to keep your own marriage exciting, growing, on track.

PARTNERING FOR LIFE® pre-marital counseling is a wonderful opportunity to explore your relationship honestly and creatively in a supportive setting, to learn why you’re so good together and to articulate to one another the dreams and goals each of you hope to reach.

How? First, each of you independently takes a written inventory (called Prepare) revealing feelings and expectations about such issues as the management of money and time, communication styles, personality differences, how to resolve disputes, sexual needs, spiritual beliefs, having and raising children, each other’s families and family and household chores. Each of you will be asked to indicate your level of assent — from strongly agree to strongly disagree — to 165 statements.

Example: “I am satisfied with how we talk with each other.”
Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree

Want a fuller picture of the “Prepare” Inventory?

Reviewing the results with my feedback and facilitation, you will focus creatively on whether you’re “on the same page” about a given issue. You will uncover the strengths in your relationship that help illuminate why you’re so strongly connected. Together we will also spotlight potential danger zones of disagreement. I’ve found that it’s often not the particular disagreement that matters most but how you communicate and manage your difference of opinion. I believe I can teach you valuable skills of creative communication and conflict resolution.

“Working with you and Prepare has reminded us that the health and longevity of this marriage will be based on the attention, respect and communication tools that we bring into the private intimacy of our union… Prepare has fostered in us a lively dialogue with a great deal of laughter, love, humor and affirmation as we’ve explored our strengths and weaknesses to help us grow closer.”

Here’s how I work: Led off by the Prepare process, PARTNERING FOR LIFE® offers 4 to 6 sessions of 75 minutes each. A cost is involved but couples who have completed the program consider it a sound investment in their future . Marriage may be the most complex of human relationships and, as with anything so important, sustaining it takes effort and commitment.

Marriage preparation programs that teach specific skills cut the divorce rate by more than thirty percent. Research at the University of Denver’s Center for Marital and Family Studies and other marriage programs, indicate that couples who take advantage of pre-martial education programs “have a significantly lower divorce rate than couples who don’t.” I have seen PARTNERING FOR LIFE® unite couples in deeply constructive ways that should assist them in staying happily together long after they are legally united.

The ideas below are central to the teaching/learning sessions we will spend together. It's so much better to know these ideas now, before your wedding than later!

Ten Ideas to Know for Having a Good Marriage
  1. Marriage matters. Married people & their kids do better on all measures of health, wealth, happiness, & success.
  2. Disagreements are normal no matter who you marry. The trick is to learn how to manage disagrements without hostility & put-downs – without getting nasty and eroding the love you rode in on.
  3. It's not the differences but how we handle them that separate successful marriages from the failures. Disagreeing doesn’t predict divorce. Avoidance, contempt, criticism, blame, and the silent treatment predict divorce. Learn how to disagree in ways that help you fall more in love.
  4. All happily married couples have approximately ten irreconcilable differences - ten issues they will never resolve. If we switch partners, we just get ten new issues that are likely to be even more annoying and complicated. Sadly, if there are children from an earlier marriage or relationship, disagreements about them go to the top of the list. What's important is to discuss our own set of issues just as we would discuss how to manage living with a chronic bad back or trick knee. We wish they weren't there, but what’s important is to keep talking about how to manage them and still do the marriage “dance”.
  5. Love is not an absolute (a yes or no situation) and it’s not limited substance. It's a feeling and feelings ebb and flow depending on how we treat each other. We can learn new ways to interact and the feelings “of being in love” can come flowing back, often stronger than before.
  6. Marital satisfaction often dips with the birth of a baby. That's normal. Marital satisfaction is at its lowest when there are kids in the house between 11 and 16. That's normal. We need to know what's normal, what to expect, appreciate our parenting partner – and hang in. It makes good sense to stay married for the sake of the kids – and for our own sake. Even with the challenges, it’s a lot easier to be a parenting team than to be a single, divorced, or remarried parent. Plus there is a silver lining: satisfaction goes back up with the empty nest. The final stage of marriage – with a job well done – is the real honeymoon period.
  7. Sex ebbs and flows. It comes and goes. That's normal. Plan for & make time for more “flows”.
  8. Creating good marital sex is not about putting the sizzle BACK INTO your sex life. Early marital sex is sex between strangers – we don't yet know our partner or ourselves. The most passionate sex is intimate sex based on knowing our partner and letting them know us. One of the most important tasks of marriage is to develop a satisfying marital sex style. It's not about going BACK; it's about going FORWARD, together.
  9. Repair attempts are crucial and are highly predictive of marital happiness. They can be clumsy or funny, even sarcastic, but the willingness to make up after an argument, is central to every happy marriage.
  10. Learn to welcome, embrace and integrate change – to discuss and update your wishes, hopes & dreams – on a regular basis. We often “interview” each other before marriage and then think "that's it." The marriage vow is a promise to stay married, not to stay the same. (Thank goodness!) Keep up-to-date with changes in your partner. Don’t fear change. Welcome it !

If interested, contact me or call me today for a consultation: My office is located on the Upper West Side in NYC.

251 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024

(212) 799-1157

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Discover a great way to strengthen your relationship!

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