You look across the room and there they are…the person of your dreams…your soulmate. The One!

In the movie Moonstruck Cher says, “Snap out of it!” Good advice, as it is often wise to step back and take a breath before jumping into those initial feelings, which may be simply lust versus true love.

Love isn’t usually fast and furious. Long-lasting love is about finding someone suitable and creating “the one” by committing to random and very conscious acts of kindness on a daily basis. Love takes time, nurturing, authentic curiosity, being interested as well as interesting, and giving of oneself unselfishly. It’s about entering a relationship thinking, feeling, and behaving on a pretty even keel, and meeting someone like-minded. Both people can then complement one another instead of coming together to heal unresolved issues, unmet expectations, and unfinished business from the past. It’s about fighting fair without name-calling or recrimination, or impulsively slinging long-held resentments. Love is work.

Unfortunately, divorce rates are high, especially with marriages after divorce. It might behoove a couple to seek pre-marital or pre-relationship counseling to explore a myriad of aspects about one another before time and emotions are invested. If people were as passionate about counseling as they are in the throes of a whirlwind romance, there might be less chance of potentially ending up disappointed and dismayed, as well as emotionally hurting minor children that come into the relationship dynamic.

Below are some questions that might be explored during pre-relationship counseling:

  • How well did you know your mate before you both committed yourselves to one another?
  • How long did you date before transitioning to a committed relationship?
  • Did you give it a lot of thought to commit or was your decision an impulsive one?
  • If you’ve had many long-term relationships, have you taken some time to explore why your relationships have not been successful?
  • How resilient are you? Are you able to bounce back from adversity in a timely manner?
  • How well do you communicate with your mate and are you open to talking difficult things through?
  • Do you get angry easily? Do you have unresolved traumas from your childhood that might impact your current functioning and relationship?
  • Did you come into your current relationship in financial debt? Do you have any problems with drugs or alcohol and other addictive behaviors?
  • Are you close or distant with your extended family? Are you ready to be part of a blended family?
  • Do you like to laugh and have fun?
  • Is it important for you to have a partner with the same religious beliefs?

The topics are endless because human beings are perfectly imperfect and may have complicated histories. Pre-marital/pre-relationship counseling can often help open your heart and mind and ease the way. Remember, it’s what you know about a person after you think you know everything about them that counts.

Amy Austin is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFC# 41252) and doctor of clinical psychology in Rancho Mirage. Dr. Amy can be reached at (760) 774.0047.

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