Category Archives: Premarital Issues

Issues to discuss before Marriage. What you will learn in premarital counseling?

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Premarital Counseling is a really good idea! 

Premarital counseling can help ensure that you and your partner have a strong, healthy relationship. This will give you a better chance for a stable and satisfying marriage. Premarital counseling can also help you identify weaknesses that may become larger problems during marriage. Good marriages don’t happen by accident. Many issues can be resolved prior to marriage with the help of a therapist. Common issues addressed may include work, finances, lifestyle, spending habits, credit card balances, student loans, savings, retirement planning, roles and responsibilities, children, parenting, in-laws, and leisure and fun. Marriage requires an understanding of yourself, your future spouse, and the tools and skills you need to make it work.

Does your significant other have a Mood Disorder?
Some moodiness is a part of everyone’s life; sometimes we feel happy, other times we are sad; some days we have lots of energy, while at other times we may be fatigued and unmotivated. When mood changes interfere with your ability to function, work or go to school, when they harm your relationships significantly, when they cause you to miss sleep, abuse drugs, or behave in ways you later regret, or when they lead to risky behaviors, thoughts of suicide, or losing touch with reality, your mood requires professional attention.

If this sounds like you’re intended. All is not lost. The key factor in this decision is Denial. If your partner tends to deny issues now, do you really think it is going to get better later?
I find that most premarital couples are well aware of their intended’s mood and alcohol/substance issues. My main questions are as follows:
Is he/she:
• Willing to seek help?
• In need of psycho-education and symptom management?
• Willing to take medication, if prescribed?
• Willing to honestly address alcohol and substance abuse issues?
• Willing to see a therapist for relationship issues and support?
It’s not going to get better if your intended is in denial. Get out while you still can!

Civility and Respect
Work on resolving conflicts in a civil and respectful way. Lack of civility and respect will eventually be the undoing of any relationship. It is possible to argue, resolve conflicts, and agree to disagree in a respectful manner. In order to do this, all couples need rules of engagement for conflict. It is important that couples express how they feel, but this needs to be done in a very caring and respectful manner. This definitely means there should be civility and respect when conflict occurs. That means no hitting (of course), no yelling, no swearing, no screaming or name calling or sarcasm. I encourage you to look at yourself and your relationship with your intended. Are you holding onto resentments? If so, you will need a therapist to help resolve this and teach you how to fight with civility and respect.

Zoom!

Now I can work via Zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information.

Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

Premarital Counseling is a really good idea!

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist,
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Premarital counseling can help ensure that you and your partner have a strong, healthy relationship. This will give you a better chance for a stable and satisfying marriage. Premarital counseling can also help you identify weaknesses that may become larger problems during marriage. Good marriages don’t happen by accident. Many issues can be resolved prior to marriage with the help of a therapist. Common issues addressed may include: mental health issues, work, finances, drug and alcohol use, lifestyle, spending habits, credit card balances, student loans, savings, retirement planning, roles and responsibilities, children, parenting, in-laws, and leisure and fun. Marriage requires an understanding of yourself, your future spouse, and the tools and skills you need to make it work.

Finances: Current debt, student loans, savings goals, retirement, pension, pool money or keep separate?
Family: Family relationships and issues, do you get along with in-laws, how often will you see them?
Religion: What are your religious views, what religion will you use to raise the children, will you attend services regularly?
Children: Do you want children, how many, thoughts on education, do you have similar values, parenting styles? What if you can’t have children?
Leisure and fun: What do you like to do in your spare time, common interests, vacation styles?
Spending: What is discretionary spending, how much is ok without consulting the other. Do you gamble?
Work and school: Will you be going to school? Will you both work; would you be willing to relocate for your spouses job? Are your work schedules compatible?
Roles: Parenting, paying bills, chores, traditional roles: women as homemaker, man as bread winner?
Lifestyles: What lifestyle are you aiming for? Where do you want to live?
Alcohol & drug use: Are there issues now that need to be addressed? Are you willing to seek help?
Holidays: What is your respective family traditions around the holidays? Will there be conflicting family expectations? How will you handle it? Will you really want the children to open gifts and then rush to get in the car to go visit family? It might help to think of you and your spouse as your own family unit, most especially, once you have children. Definitely worth the conversation especially if it has not come up already.

Zoom! Now I can work via face time with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information.

Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://psychologytoday.com

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

What are the most common relationship issues and conflicts?

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist,
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

How to deal with conflict in your relationship?

For a vast majority of the individuals, families and couples there are common conflict themes. These include: mood disorders, lack of civility and respect, resentment, poor communication, lack of intimacy, infidelity, alcohol and substance abuse, financial and parenting issues. One thing is certain, there is no guarantee of “happily ever after” especially in this day and age when so many things can get in the way of your relationship. Relationships take work and attention to ensure a good marriage. Life has a way of interfering in our relationships. Couples can get lost in the day to day grind of life. We have to make time for one another to keep our connection strong. Many of the common issues listed here are addressed in the following case studies.

Case Scenario – Depression
Dan and Wendy have been married for 14 years. They dated for three years prior to marriage. They have three children ages 6, 9 and 12. Dan’s mother has a history of mood disorder though it was never formally diagnosed. She lives in the past having never gotten over the infidelity of her husband, their subsequent divorce and his marriage to the other women. His Dad is a recovering alcoholic. Dad has been sober for ten years but he is difficult to get along with as his second marriage is also an unhappy one.

Dan is currently unemployed because he can’t get along with co-workers. He has no friends; all have abandoned him because of his temper. Dan tends to hold grudges and he writes people off if he perceives that they have wronged him. He has few interests and spends his time surfing the internet or playing video games. Dan lacks motivation and drive and his concentration is poor. He stays up until four or five in the morning. Wendy is scared because he is unmotivated to look for work and they are now in financial trouble. They bicker over his alcohol use and his inability to share his feelings.

My assessment indicates that Dan has many of the classic signs for clinical depression, his symptoms include lack of motivation and no friends. He isolates himself and his sleep wake cycle is reversed. He is up most of the night and sleeps most of the day which is a way of avoiding people and responsibility. He has been drinking more than usual. Wendy made the appointment and Dan was reluctant to join her but he did. I asked that Wendy come in even if Dan says that he won’t come. Invariably the husband will ask about the appointment. I suggest when asked, “If you want to know you’ll come with me next time.”

I gave Dan the list of depressive symptoms and asked him to put a check next to those that applied to him. He checked 8 of the symptoms listed. I encouraged him to have a psychiatric evaluation for medication to address his depression and use of alcohol to self-medicate. The doctor put him on the appropriate medication. I worked closely with the doctor to ensure a unified treatment approach. Goals were set for him and for them as a couple.

First part of his education was learning about his depression. I pointed out that it was not his fault. More than likely he inherited this from either one of his parents. To start him on his path to recovery, I encouraged him to have more structure in his day. That meant getting up at 8pm and going to bed no later than eleven thirty. He was also to take a walk at least 4 times per week for forty minutes since they could not afford a gym membership at this time. Part of creating his plan was to pick the days that he was to walk each week. He was also encouraged to reconnect with his friends and to avoid the use of alcohol.

After a few weeks on the medication he began to feel better. In the meantime, I continued to educate both he and Wendy about his depression. Once Dan was feeling better, we began to address the marital issues created by his depression. He was encouraged to make “I feel statements”. These types of statements help address emotional withdrawal by allowing the partner to understand what their loved one is thinking and feeling, ultimately helping them feel more connected. Saying “I feel,” is also a signal to alert Wendy that Dan is trying to communicate effectively. Hopefully this signal will help both Dan and Wendy to be less defensive in their communication.

I also encouraged a date night at least twice per month and advised that these dates do not have to cost a lot of money. Just getting out together, walking or going for coffee or ice cream was fine. The idea is to spend some quality one-on-one time.

Mood disorders are a chemical imbalance in the brain but also include environmental issues and personality traits. About one in seven individuals will at some point in their life experience it. Situational depression is created by marital conflict, job loss, grief and ongoing health issues. These will surely affect your relationship.

Many disconnects in a relationship begin when with mood disorder, alcohol or substance abuse and situational depression. If these issues are not addressed, it is unlikely that progress will be made in couples counseling.

Studies show that there is usually a history of mood disorder or alcoholism on one or both sides of the family. It is imperative that the therapist be direct with their clients about the assessment, and encourage a psychiatric evaluation to determine if medication is appropriate. Once this is addressed, it is very possible to resolve many of the couple issues.

Zoom! Now I can work via zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information.  Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://psychologytoday.com

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material with your doctor and therapist.

Premarital Counseling is a really good idea!

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Premarital Counseling is a really good idea! 

Premarital counseling can help ensure that you and your partner have a strong, healthy relationship. This will give you a better chance for a stable and satisfying marriage. Premarital counseling can also help you identify weaknesses that may become larger problems during marriage. Good marriages don’t happen by accident. Many issues can be resolved prior to marriage with the help of a therapist. Common issues addressed may include work, finances, lifestyle, spending habits, credit card balances, student loans, savings, retirement planning, roles and responsibilities, children, parenting, in-laws, and leisure and fun. Marriage requires an understanding of yourself, your future spouse, and the tools and skills you need to make it work.
Does your significant other have a Mood Disorder?
Some moodiness is a part of everyone’s life; sometimes we feel happy, other times we are sad; some days we have lots of energy, while at other times we may be fatigued and unmotivated. When mood changes interfere with your ability to function, work or go to school, when they harm your relationships significantly, when they cause you to miss sleep, abuse drugs, or behave in ways you later regret, or when they lead to risky behaviors, thoughts of suicide, or losing touch with reality, your mood requires professional attention.
If this sounds like you’re intended. All is not lost. The key factor in this decision is Denial. If your partner tends to deny issues now, do you really think it is going to get better later?
I find that most premarital couples are well aware of their intended’s mood and alcohol/substance issues. My main questions are as follows:
Is he/she:
• Willing to seek help?
• In need of psychoeducation and symptom management?
• Willing to take medication, if prescribed?
• Willing to honestly address alcohol and substance abuse issues?
• Willing to see a therapist for relationship issues and support?
It’s not going to get better if your intended is in denial. Get out while you still can!
Civility and Respect
Work on resolving conflicts in a civil and respectful way. Lack of civility and respect will eventually be the undoing of any relationship. It is possible to argue, resolve conflicts, and agree to disagree in a respectful manner. In order to do this, all couples need rules of engagement for conflict. It is important that couples express how they feel, but this needs to be done in a very caring and respectful manner. This definitely means there should be civility and respect when conflict occurs. That means no hitting (of course), no yelling, no swearing, no screaming or name calling or sarcasm. I encourage you to look at yourself and your relationship with your intended. Are you holding onto resentments? If so, you will need a therapist to help resolve this and teach you how to fight with civility and respect.

Zoom!

Now I can work via zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information.  

Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638 for more information.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

Finances cause of conflict in marriages

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Arguments over finances are a common issue in many relationships. Here are some tips that will help avoid conflict over finances.

Set Goals and Objectives for your finances.

  • Share detailed financial information regularly.
  • Make financial decisions together.
  • Create a budget.
  • Go over your finances together at least monthly.
  • Who will pay the bills?
  • What is your retirement goal? 
  • How much will you contribute each month to your 401 plan? 
  • How much disposable income do you have each month?
  • How much will you put into savings each month? 
  • Suggestion: If you can’t pay the credit card bill in full when it comes, then don’t make the purchase.
  • Set an amount ($200 for example) that you agree to disclose to each other before making a purchase.
  • Don’t discuss issues, especially financial, on your date night.
  • Have a team mentality. Work together and commit to acting responsible with money. This will also result in fewer financial arguments.
  • Contribute to paying the bills in proportion to your income as opposed to your spouse’s income.

Payment and Insurance:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield PPO insurance welcome. Cash, check, Visa, Master Card or American Express accepted.

Zoom!

Now I can work via Zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS PPO Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative.

Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://jamesdelgenio.com
http://family-institute.org
http://takenotelessons.com   Effective online, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

The Family Institute at Northwestern University

James DelGenio LCPC is a senior staff therapist who offers remote teletherapy and accepts BCBS PPO Insurance.  Teletherapy is HIPPA approved via Zoom.com 

His services include: Individual and family counseling, marital and premarital counseling, and treatment of mood disorders and substance use and dependence.

Offering Teletherapy anywhere in IL via zoom.  HIPPA approved and accepted by BCBS PPO Insurance.

TFI is a unique not-for-profit organization that is leading the way in all facets to strengthen and heal families from all walks of life through clinical service, education and research. No other institution brings together such a concentration of knowledge, expertise and academic credentials to help improve the lives of people in the Chicago area and around the globe.

As a practicing Psychotherapist for over 40 years, I employ a variety of clinical approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in the treatment of couples, families and individuals.

Individual Practice: Assessment and treatment of anxiety, stress, panic, trauma, anger, grief, depression, mood disorders, mental illness and alcohol/substance abuse.

Marriage and Family Practice: Lack of intimacy, infidelity, poor communication, conflict over finances, lack of trust, parenting and behavior issues, premarital and divorce issues.

Specialization: Treatment of couples, depression and its impact on relationships and the family.

Zoom! Now I can work via Zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information. Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://takenotelessons.com   Highly effective on line one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

How to conduct family meetings to improve your relationship.

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist,
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Conduct family meetings to manage child behavior too!
Once upon a time, families ate dinner together. There was no eating in front of the TV; no texting or answering the phone and no internet. This was a time when families discussed what was going on in the household i.e. news, upcoming events, behavior issues and general discussions. Dinner used to be the natural time for families to discuss their lives, upcoming events and issues of importance.

Today, I find that families rarely eat together, missing the opportunity for family discussion. Child activities including little league, football, soccer, music lessons, dance lessons, and all kinds of after school activities have come to interfere in this essential family event. Families have become ships in the night passing one another as they head out the door. The idea of after school activity is potentially a good one: keep the kids busy and you will keep them out of trouble. However, what has been lost is the sense of family and the opportunity for good communication.

When I was a child, dinner time was always between 5 and 5:30pm. I had a lot of freedom but I also knew what was expected of me. In this case, it was “be home by 5pm” for dinner.

We would hear stories, news and discuss family issues. Today parents have become dependent on dual incomes in order to maintain the lifestyle they want to give their family. Now that the world economy has become more difficult and we have high unemployment and home foreclosures are rampant, parents are working two jobs just to make ends meet. They work late or have different schedules and their relationship suffers. They too, are ships passing in the night. Many couples today report they feel disconnected, their communication has suffered and, in turn, so has the level of intimacy they share. This will ultimately lead to bickering, conflict, infidelity and possibly divorce. How sad that an important family event has disappeared without realizing the major negative impact on the family. Even when couples do realize the problem, there is little that can be done since they are trying to stay afloat financially.

One way to reclaim some of that lost family communication time are family meetings, though some of my clients prefer to call them team meetings. I encourage families to gather at least once per week to discuss four areas. Ideally, this should be done at the same day and time each week.

There should also be a pre-family meeting with just mom and dad!

There should also be a pre-family meeting for mom and dad to discuss their issues, in-laws, finances, (make your own agenda) and get on the same page for the meeting with the kids to ensure you are parenting as a team.  Take this opportunity to plan a date night! Try to be consistent.

The general topics to discuss are News, Compliments, Issues and Feedback. Here are some examples:
1. News: This is a chance to keep everyone up to date of all the family events coming up. The more informed everyone is, the more opportunities to share the scheduled load and the less stress for last minute- must do projects. “We are going to grandma’s house next weekend or Joey has a science project due and he will need craft paper”

2. Compliments: Search for things your child is doing well, no matter how small and acknowledge it. It will increase their sense of confidence and self-esteem. Show that you are excited and proud of them. “You did a nice job getting ready for school on time.”

3. Issues: We live in an increasingly complex world that challenges us every day with a wide range of disturbing issues. By initiating conversations with your children, you will create an open environment and be able to address the tougher topics i.e. homework, curfew issues, chaotic morning or bedtime routine, alcohol and drug abuse. Hopefully, next week you will have compliments from improvement in this weeks issues.

Tip: don’t tackle too many issues at once.

4. Feedback: Listen to your children and allow them the chance to express their concerns, complaints and express their feelings. You will learn more about your child if you open your ears and close your mouth.

I have found that both parents and children love this opportunity. The only concern is that as much as everyone in the house likes this, parents themselves have a difficult time being consistent. They often report that they were consistent initially but the process hasn’t been repeated in weeks. Be consistent! Family meetings are just one way to address the potentially poor communication within the family.

Zoom! 

Now I work via zoom, and it is still covered by BCBS PPO. Check with your BCBS representative. Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://jamesdelgenio.com
http://family-institute.org

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

How to address common relationship issues?

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist,
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Common relationship issues
For a vast majority of the individuals, families and couples there are common conflict themes. These include mood disorders, lack of civility and respect, resentment, poor communication, lack of intimacy, infidelity, alcohol and substance abuse, financial and parenting issues to name a few. One thing is certain, there is no guarantee of “happily ever after” especially in this day and age when so many things can get in the way of your relationship. Relationships take work and attention to ensure a good marriage. Life has a way of interfering in our relationships. Couples can get lost in the day-to-day grind of life. We have to make time for one another to keep our connection strong; planning is key. Many of the common issues listed here are addressed in the following case studies.

Case Scenario- Depression – Dan and Wendy
Dan and Wendy have been married for 14 years. They dated for three years prior to marriage. They have three children ages 6, 9 and 12. Dan’s mother has a history of mood disorder though it was never formally diagnosed. She lives in the past having never gotten over the infidelity of her husband, their subsequent divorce and his marriage to the other women. His Dad is a recovering alcoholic. Dad has been sober for ten years but he is difficult to get along with as his second marriage is also an unhappy one.
Dan is currently unemployed because he can’t get along with co-workers. He has no friends; all have abandoned him because of his temper. Dan tends to hold grudges and he writes people off if he perceives that they have wronged him. He has few interests and spends his time surfing the internet or playing video games. Dan lacks motivation and drive and his concentration is poor. He stays up until four or five in the morning. Wendy is scared because he is unmotivated to look for work and they are now in financial trouble. They bicker over his alcohol use and his inability to share his feelings.

My assessment indicates that Dan has many of the classic signs for clinical depression, his symptoms include lack of motivation and no friends. He isolates himself and his sleep wake cycle is reversed. He is up most of the night and sleeps most of the day which is a way of avoiding people and responsibility. He has been drinking more than usual. Wendy made the appointment and Dan was reluctant to join her but he did. I asked that Wendy come in even if Dan says that he won’t come. Invariably the husband will ask about the appointment. I suggest when asked, “If you want to know you’ll come with me next time.”

I gave Dan the list of depressive symptoms and asked him to put a check next to those that applied to him. He checked 8 of the symptoms listed. I encouraged him to have a psychiatric evaluation for medication to address his depression and use of alcohol to self-medicate. The doctor put him on the appropriate medication. I worked closely with the doctor to ensure a unified treatment approach. Goals were set for him and for them as a couple.

First part of his education was learning about his depression. I pointed out that it was not his fault. More than likely he inherited this from either one of his parents. To start him on his path to recovery, I encouraged him to have more structure in his day. That meant getting up at 8pm and going to bed no later than eleven thirty. He was also to take a walk at least 4 times per week for forty minutes since they could not afford a gym membership at this time. Part of creating his plan was to pick the days that he was to walk each week. He was also encouraged to reconnect with his friends and to avoid the use of alcohol. After a few weeks on the medication, he began to feel better. In the meantime, I continued to educate both he and Wendy about his depression. Once Dan was feeling better, we began to address the marital issues created by his depression. He was encouraged to make “I feel statements”. These types of statements help address emotional withdrawal by allowing the partner to understand what their loved one is thinking and feeling, ultimately helping them feel more connected. Saying “I feel,” is also a signal to alert Wendy that Dan is trying to communicate effectively. Hopefully this signal will help both Dan and Wendy to be less defensive in their communication.

I also encouraged a date night at least twice per month and advised that these dates do not have to cost a lot of money. Just getting out together, walking or going for coffee or ice cream was fine. The idea is to spend some quality one-on-one time.

Mood disorders are a chemical imbalance in the brain but also include environmental issues and personality traits. About one in seven individuals will at some point in a marriage experience it. Situational depression is created by marital conflict, job loss, grief and ongoing health issues. These will surely affect your relationship.

Many disconnects in a relationship begin when with mood disorder, alcohol or substance abuse and situational depression. If these issues are not addressed, it is unlikely that progress will be made in couples counseling.
Many studies show that there is usually a history of mood disorder or alcoholism on one or both sides of the family. It is imperative that the therapist be direct with their clients about the assessment and encourage a psychiatric evaluation to determine if medication is appropriate. Once this is addressed, it is very possible to resolve many of the couple issues.

Zoom!
Now I can work via zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information.  Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://takenotelessons.com    Effective online, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype and much more.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

The benefits of premarital counseling

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist,
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Premarital counseling can help ensure that you and your partner have a strong, healthy relationship. This will give you a better chance for a stable and satisfying marriage. Premarital counseling can also help you identify weaknesses that may become larger problems during marriage. Good marriages don’t happen by accident. Many issues can be resolved prior to marriage with the help of a therapist. Common issues addressed may include: mental health issues, work, finances, drug and alcohol use, lifestyle, spending habits, credit card balances, student loans, savings, retirement planning, roles and responsibilities, children, parenting, in-laws, and leisure and fun. Marriage requires an understanding of yourself, your future spouse, and the tools and skills you need to make it work.

Does your significant other have a Mood Disorder?
Some moodiness is a part of everyone’s life; sometimes we feel happy, other times we are sad; some days we have lots of energy, while at other times we may be fatigued and unmotivated. When mood changes interfere with your ability to function, work or go to school, when they harm your relationships significantly, when they cause you to miss sleep, abuse drugs, or behave in ways you later regret, or when they lead to risky behaviors, thoughts of suicide, or losing touch with reality, your mood requires professional attention.

If this sounds like you’re intended. All is not lost. The key factor in this decision is Denial. If your partner tends to deny issues now, do you really think it is going to get better later?

I find that most premarital couples are well aware of their intended’s mood and alcohol/substance issues. My main questions are as follows:
Is he/she:
• Willing to seek help? individually? together?
• In need of psychoeducation?
• Willing to take medication, if prescribed?
• Willing to honestly address alcohol and substance abuse issues?
• Willing to see a therapist for relationship issues and support?

Rules of Engagement
All couples need rules for fighting. The most important rule is civility and respect. This, of course, means no hitting or throwing ever. If there is physical violence, you must call the police. Beyond that essential rules are no screaming, swearing, or name calling ever. This is destructive and may lead to your undoing as a couple. Couples need to work on resolving conflicts in their relationship with civility and respect so that bitterness and resentments can not build. It is possible to argue, resolve conflicts, and agree to disagree. In order to do this, all couples need rules of engagement for conflict. Establish your rules!

Finances and Spending
One of the biggest causes of problems in relationships is differences in values and goals and habits when it comes to money, and especially communication about money issues. That old saying is true …. money can’t buy you love, but it sure can tear it apart.

This makes a discussion of finances necessary before marriage. Learn how to talk about money, and align your financial goals such as retirement, savings, spending, debt, and disposable income. If you can do those two things, you’ve done more than most couples, and you’ve done a lot to start your relationship off on solid ground.

I therefore, recommend meeting with a financial planner to discuss issues such as spending, use of credit cards and financial goals. Goals should include the following: savings, pension contributions, retirement planning, debt, discretionary spending, school loans and the use of credit cards. How will you handle school loans and debt brought into the marriage? How much money can be spent without consulting the other. I usually recommend $100 to $300.

Family Ties and In-laws
A family is made up of many unique individuals, each with a range of thoughts and opinions on almost every subject and situation. Add to the mix extended family with their countless beliefs and personal opinions and there is no wonder there are disagreements from time to time. Conflict is simply the natural and healthy progression of any relationship

Some questions to explore – What sort of relationship do you have with your extended family? Are they local? Do they like your fiancée? Are they affectionate? Are they over-involved or critical? Have there been any major conflictual issues?

I suggest that couples begin to see themselves as their own family unit. When addressing family of origin, always say that “we” will have to discuss the event or holiday and that he or she should respond to their own family unit. This is especially true once children enter the picture. Now consider, if you want to see us come over………  This way the kids don’t have to get up open presents and get in the car! Now your doing what is best for family.

Religious Beliefs
This potentially contentious issue should always be discussed in premarital counseling. The first step is to seek a better understanding of your future spouse’s religious and spiritual background.
Topics to look into are:
• How to reconcile differing ideologies and practices
• How to observe and celebrate each other’s holidays
• How to raise children so that they are exposed to both partners’ traditions without being overwhelmed and/or confused
• How to integrate both extended families, especially during the wedding/holidays

Case Study:

Mark is not religious; Eileen is and expects to go to Church every week. What if they did marry and had children; would Mark go to Church then?
What if Mark is Catholic and Eileen is Jewish? Will one of you convert? Does it matter at all? What will the respective families say? That is a big question especially in regard to child rearing.

“What do you mean; you are not going to raise the baby Catholic? Jewish?” For some, the consequences of that decision may be long lasting or a deal breaker. It is clearly better to decide before marriage and tell both families about your decision. In discussions with the extended families, always use the phrase “we” have decided.

Children and Parenting
Do you want children? How many and when? Are there already children from previous relationships? Have you discussed blended family issues? What do you expect from your spouse regarding parenting/step parenting roles? When a problem arises, how does my partner communicate? What are the responsibilities of each parent in raising a child?

I strongly recommend that you have two to four years together as a couple before you have children. This time is critical, it gives you the opportunity to get to know one another as a married couple.

Children don’t bring you closer together; they create stress and sometimes distance especially if you and your intended are not on the same page regarding roles and responsibilities. And even more stress when ex’s and step in-laws are in the picture.

Blended families have a lot to discuss: the ex, custody issues, the in-laws, parenting, finances, loans, debt, child support, etc.. They especially need premarital counseling. I am surprised at how often these have not been fully addressed.

I believe that the children don’t come first; your relationship comes first. Now I know that is not true but if you divorce, it will be children that suffer most. Of course, my point is don’t forget to make time for your relationship after you have children. Planning for alone time or date night is a key component in addressing this issue. Take turns planning so the wife isn’t doing it all. But above all – Parent as a team! Be consistent with consequences. Discuss issues prior to discussing them with the children. What to say and how to say it.

Work, Lifestyle, Leisure and Fun
What sort of lifestyle do you want? Will you both continue to work when children are born? Do you have the same idea of what is fun? Where will you want to live?

Today most couples are comprised of two working parents. Couples want to maintain or improve the lifestyle they had going into the marriage. This is difficult in today’s economy and job market. For the first time in history, couples may not meet or exceed their parents’ lifestyle. The common expectations of employment today are long hours and work from home in the evening and on the weekend. This reduces quality time together. These forces necessitate compromise and making the most of the time you have together. Planning mutually enjoyable activities and social events and balanced with appropriate alone time is a key component in maintaining a strong relationship.

Final Thought
You may not feel you NEED premarital counseling, but it is still wise choice to consider. You may be on cloud nine with the impending marriage, but counseling may help bring up and resolve some difficult topics. Better to discuss issues before marriage then with a divorce attorney later.

Zoom!

Now I can work via zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information.

Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
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Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material with your doctor and therapist.

How to improve your love connection?

By James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC Senior Staff Therapist The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Planning is key to improving your relationship!
It is a hectic world we live in. Everything seems to take precedence over our relationships. Health issues, kids’ activities, work issues all take precedence. The next thing you know when you look back is that you haven’t had time for just the two of you in months!
All-in-all life just gets in the way so it’s easy to lose your connection to your significant other. The way to deal with this is to plan your quality time. Trade who gets to pick what you will do. Gentlemen don’t let her do all the planning; it takes the joy away for her. When you do get out that is not the time to talk about the kids or your issues with one another. Some couples even plan for intimacy which I have also seen work. The goal here is to reconnect but if it’s going to happen planning will be necessary. Put it on the calendar and have fun. It’s good to have fun. Have fun together! I’ll bet your level intimacy will improve also.

Zoom! Now I can work via Zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative.

Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.