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premarital counseling conscious uncoupling divorce therapy sophia o'connor



Mindfulness Makes the Difference


Pre-marital counseling is about building a relationship that’s fit for the long haul. Smart couples understand that marriage is unpredictable and requires more than love and good intentions. Marriage challenges the communication and problem-solving skills of even the best of us and premarital therapy is a way to establish a platform for savvy communication before things get tough to set your marriage up for success.


Unlike couples therapy, which usually takes place when there’s a problem, pre-marital counseling is about preventing troubles down the line. And just because you are in counseling doesn’t mean your relationship isn’t as strong as others, it actually means you take your relationship very seriously and want to invest in its future.

Modern marriage needs modern premarital counseling

Marriage is an ancient institution and while it has been redefined in countless ways, many of the ways we talk about and prepare for marriage are antiquated. One or both partners may have children from a previous relationship, an adopted child or, of course, have been married previously. Not everyone who’s getting married is between the ages of 24 and 36, either. In the last few years, with the Supreme Court effectively making gay marriage legal in all 50 states, the country is beginning to see marriage outside of its traditionally conceived, straight, same-race, gender-normative box. 

Whether in the context of marriage per se, a domestic partnership or some other self-defined understanding of relationships, queer couples and non-gender conforming couples have been choosing to define their relationship as one grounded in a long-term commitment for decades. Their marriage doesn’t fit into a heterosexual box–there’s no reason their pre-marital counseling should have to.​

Understanding where you come from:

looking backward as you move forward

Marriage is about more than two individuals; it is the entirety of our past experiences we are bringing to the table. Paradoxically, it is often those most powerful forces that define how we view relationships that we struggle to see. This is especially true when it comes to the implicit values instilled at a young age by our parents around love, conflict, and relationships. Many of us look back on our parents’ marriage or past relationships and can identify parts that we don't want to recreate and others that we do.


Pre-marital counseling is an opportunity to be mindful of how our past experiences shape the expectations and fears each partner brings to the marriage. How do we not repeat the past, or how can we build on our parents’ success? The more aware we are of the assumptions we’re bringing to marriage the more freedom we have to make choices that are truly empowering and sustainable.

Pre-marital counseling helps couples get a sense of their strengths

Premarital counseling is an opportunity for you and your partner to get a sense of what your strengths are and also identify areas of your relationship to pay attention to. Throughout our work together we stay closely connected to your strengths and build on those. Doing this can bring about a lot of joy and a sense of empowerment. Your strengths as a couple are the threads which we will continuously come back to within the course of our time together. It is this foundation, also, that allows us to have the harder conversations.

  • The merging of two families (biological and/or chosen)

  • Unspoken power dynamics in your marriage

  • The role of sex and intimacy

  • Negotiations of monogamy versus other relationship structures, what are the rules?

  • Building good communication skills for when times get tough

  • Making room for your differences and honoring them

  • Resolving conflict – coping and calming

  • Talking about whether you want children or not

  • Finances and saving for your future

  • The importance (or not) of spirituality and religion 

  • Processing old family issues

  • Identify areas of growth and areas of strength in your couple

  • Creating goals for your relationship

  • Really understanding what makes your partner thrive and/or crumble


    The ending of a romantic relationship is an extraordinarily painful event. Whether you’ve been dating for a year, or married for thirty, you may be overcome with feelings of grief, anger, or confusion. It's hard for everyone involved. The mourning is not only for that person but all your plans for the future. The conversations leading to the decision to uncouple and first months after that decision tend to be very difficult and are likely to overwhelm you with thoughts and feelings.

  • Notice how you react to endings in general

  • Get clear on the boundaries that need to be put in place

  • Be there for one another

  • Speak your truth

  • Find closure at your own pace

  • Make room for lingering emotions that need to be digested

  • Negotiate how (and if) you want to be in each other's life moving forward

  • Summarize the story of the relationship and give the ending meaning

  • Go over the strengths of the relationship and what are the takeaways

  • See each other off to the next chapter of your lives with kindness


The institution of marriage has been around for a very long time and has meant very different things throughout history. It has evolved from a means of survival, strategic family mergers, and/or religious obligation more to a paradigm based on the notion of romantic love. The notion of romantic love is relatively new historically speaking and at most has been practiced for about 100 years. In the 21st century, the stakes of marriage are at an all-time high, and so are the rates of divorce. Our life expectancy has dramatically increased as well. And whereas people used to get married for relatively straightforward reasons and lived together for a handful of decades before passing away, we are now looking at a very different landscape for lifelong partnerships that can last up to 6 decades — a long time to spend with one person.


Furthermore, with smaller salaries and changing gender roles, there can be a lot of tension as couples are usually both participating in the workforce to make ends meet and yet battling old messages about what is expected of men and women in the household. While divorce rates have gone down since 2016 they still affect about 4 in every 10 marriages. You are not alone, and it is important to remember that endings can bring up a whole host of feelings all of which are workable with time, as is your love life. 

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