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Laying the Foundation

By Moment Palmer | Photography by Old South Studios

Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013

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Boy meets girl. They fall in love, get engaged, have a beautiful wedding and live happily ever after. The End. Of course, real life is a bit more complicated. How do you make sure when you say your vows you really mean you'll stay committed "for better or for worse" and not "for better, but if things get worse, we can always get divorced"?

Today, more couples are turning to pre-marriage counseling. While the words "counseling" and "therapy" may sound daunting and often there's a stigma associated with them, this type of counseling serves as a valuable tool for a lasting marriage.

b4ido: A seven-week investment in happily ever after

B4ido is one option for new couples who are either engaged or considering marriage to learn about different areas that they will most likely face during their relationship. Tim Cox, Family Life Pastor at Church at Charlotte and his wife, Diane, of 33 years facilitate the class and help couples create a dialogue around these issues, so that when they do come across them, they'll be more prepared to handle resolution in a healthy way. Each week a new topic is covered, with an underlying theme of communication in each session.

Tim and Diane teach people that since marriage is a key institution in our society, it's important to go into it with training and preparation. Relationships are something that everyone needs to work on and they also encourage ongoing maintenance classes or counseling for couples of all ages and all stages of marriage.

Tim's most important words of advice are, "Everything else that's valuable in life we receive training for – whether it's for our education, our job or even our driver's license. It's just as important to invest in 'training' for marriage." That's exactly what he says is the "secret" to his marriage of more than 30 years – investing in time for the relationship and the importance of communication. "Let yourself and your feelings be known to your partner. Talk it out and don't bottle things up, be honest even if it makes you vulnerable and even if hurts sometimes."

The next b4ido class will be offered in the spring of 2014. Visit www.b4ido.org for more details.

A Non-Religious Option

Reverend Rebecca Nagy offers premarital counseling to couples with all types of backgrounds, and is a good option for people who don't necessarily consider themselves religious and still want to build a strong foundation for their relationship.

Rev. Nagy is not affiliated with any particular church, and she's a non-denominational interfaith minister, which means she counsels to all religions, as well as none. Quite often couples receive counseling from the religious advisor of the church or institution where they will have their wedding. However, the sessions may be brief, and include an assessment inventory and skills training, but not always address topics that the couple really needs to focus on.

Her sessions consist of ten "hot topics," and she suggests that couples meet with her to cover at least the top three before the marriage ceremony. These include communication, trust, and boundaries (as well as finances). She helps couples find tools to use to communicate with each other and advocates that individuals entering into a commitment truly focus on being their authentic self with their significant other and living up to their vows before the marriage.

After the premarital counseling and on the day of your wedding, Rev. Nagy reminds couples that taking their vows and their commitment ceremony should be meaningful. It represents "what we believe, who we are, the way we want to live our lives together," optimistically until "death do us part." www.acharlotteweddingminister.com

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