What is the difference between pre-marital and marital counseling? People come to marital counseling with an existing problem. Each partner in the relationship is now occupied with getting his/her needs met, not the partner’s. They have forgotten how to share, solve, and support each other in their relationship.
At The Center For Pre-Marital Counseling, CPC, couples come for pre-marital counseling to learn how to optimally relate. There are no problems, no therapy, no psychological testing, and no groups. This counseling is educational in nature. The couple learns about the importance of anticipating each other’s needs, and that good communication skills are the single most important aspect in a good marriage.
Take the case of Yossi (not his real name), a 21 year old graduating senior at Touro College. He was an excellent student, had just gotten married, and was still learning in Yeshiva. Yossi came to my office at Touro College where I work as the counseling coordinator, asking for help with his resume. When Yossi became engaged, I had asked him to consider pre-marital counseling. Yossi just laughed it off as a cute idea.
As we now talked in a friendly, joking manner, I asked Yossi how married life was treating him. At this point, Yossi got very serious and said, “I’m not sure. My wife Rivky cried most of the night.” Yossi explained that his Rosh Yeshiva had told him of a position that was now available in a small, out-of-town yeshiva. He could start out as a Rebbe and, in time, possibly become the Menahel and principal of the school. “I was so excited,” said Yossi, “that I couldn’t wait to tell my wife the good news! I was ready to move.”
Although they tried to talk about it, communication between Yossi and Rivky was not good. Their inability to reach each other only made things worse. Yossi was feeling hurt and unsupported. Rivky withdrew, which made Yossi feel undermined and angry.
I asked Yossi to bring Rivky to my office so that they could talk as a couple. At first they were both a little nervous, but as we spoke, they soon relaxed. I explained that two individuals could develop the potential and skills to understand themselves and each other’s needs and expectations. When they returned the next day, I did a short intake and assessment on both of them.
Rivky’s preferences were realistic, practical and responsible. She wanted a more stable, predictable life style where she could first settle down, save money, and raise a family in the community she grew up in. Yossi, on the other hand, felt that, “I like things that are open and flexible with visions of possibilities.”
Rabbi Shmuel Dishon stated in one of his lectures to new grooms: “Each one of us is a unique personality whom we have to understand, accept and appreciate.” Good communication is essential for problem-solving, sharing information, and mutual support. For Yossi and Rivky we began with the technique of Understanding, Acceptance and Appreciation as a key factor in becoming sensitive to the other spouse.
Yossi and Rivky began to have more insight, compassion and support for each other. They started to appreciate and understand what each other’s uniqueness and personality had to offer, and how to work together to achieve the same goals.
The Torah (Bereishis2:24) states that a husband and wife are considered “one”. Understanding, acceptance, and appreciation for each other’s personality will enable a husband and wife to communicate as a harmonious team.
Yossi and Rivky regretted that they had not gone for pre-marital counseling. It scared them to think what could have happened if Yossi and I had not met. A problem that could have taken years to correct could have easily been avoided in just a few sessions at CPC.
The Center for Pre-Marital Counseling offers a tremendous opportunity for learning and growth with a wide range of related topics, helping couples to achieve meaningful relationships.
I recently met with Rav Pam, shlita, and he expressed that, “This program should be part of the curriculum of every chassan and kallah class.”
For more information or to obtain a free brochure, please contact Marty Herskowitz at Ladino23@aol.com.