Of all the people I was excited to share my engagement news with, I couldn’t wait to tell my therapist — and not just because I am a typical millennial who has had a relationship with therapy for the better part of a decade. (I’d started seeing my therapist after a particularly rough breakup. Look at me now!!) No, I was excited because I had one simple question to ask her: “Can you recommend a couple’s therapist?“
Now, I want to be clear: nothing was particularly wrong with my fiancé Ben and my relationship. Sure, we had the typical squabbles of a couple who had been together long enough to decide they wanted to hang out for the rest of their lives. And after that initial rush of excitement over our engagement, like a lot of couples, we settled into the “oh shit!” realization that we had actually chosen our person, declaratively, on Instagram, for all of the world to see — diamond ring included.
But there are no real “issues” with us. We have similar goals, parallel plans for where we’ll live, and similar ideas of what constitutes a fun Friday night in. (Cooking something delicious together, wine, The Sopranos, and maybe a few rounds of Boggle if we’re feeling crazy.)
But when I spoke to friends of mine who had already made their way down the aisle, a few things kept popping up: Specifically, alllllllllllllll of the things they didn’t talk about before marriage. Like, how do you want to handle money? What happens if someone loses their job? Where do we want to live? When do we want to start trying to have kids?
So, we both concluded that it would be good to talk through all of this with the help of a therapist before we were even married. It’s not that we couldn’t have these convos on our own, off the couch, without a therapist present. Having someone in the middle neutralizes the situation. It gives us the space to really go at one another and dig into the shit we need to get off our chests. It also helps us recognize the blind spots that *we* don’t even know that we have, yet are affecting how we relate to the other person.
Don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about? Here’s a perfect example: Ben and I don’t really argue. At the beginning of our relationship, that felt like a sign that we were super compatible. But through therapy, we found that the reason we never argued is because we are both SO incredibly accommodating to the other person that we tend to squish our true feelings down if it runs counter to what they want. Now, compromise is a good thing. But if we don’t figure out a way to communicate when something is important to us, that can bring resentment down the road. So that is now something we’re working on together.
And I’ve got to say, it’s been *SO* freakin’ helpful to have a couple’s therapist amid wedding planning. That shit is STRESSFUL for about a billion and one different reasons. It can cause us to argue about dumb shit (like whether we want silver or gold foil on our invitations, which is apparently worth melting down over?!). It can also bring up feelings with our families and dredge some insane emotions within ourselves.
Ben and I are both in our 30s and had been living pretty independent lives before backing into one another on Bumble. And now, just two years later, we’re saying, “Hey, we want to do this forever.” That is magical and exciting but also terrifying as fuck. Having a therapist to fall back on allows us to express that fear in a way that doesn’t make the other person pull a Runaway Bride (me, I’m the person). A miracle!
So, please take my advice: Get engaged, get your ring insured, and then start hunting for a couple’s therapist. Marriage is a lifelong commitment, people!! It’s worth the time and money to ensure you’re both on the same page before saying “I do.”