Pre-marital counselling not so rare any more

Before taking the plunge, couples are seeking advice on children, finances and roles and responsibilities

Pre-marital counselling is necessary keeping in view the shift in people’s attitudes because of changing social structures. (Above) A seminar conducted by Manasa Consultants.

With a steep rise in the number of divorces across Indian society, pre-marital counselling is gaining in importance.

Though it is common among Christians, it is dropping its religious associations as couples across communities seek advice before taking the plunge.

“Earlier, only people in a relationship would come for pre-marital counselling when they wanted to take it forward. It allowed them to sort out existing challenges and get a better understanding of themselves before marriage,” says Kala Balasubramanian, counselling psychologist and psychotherapist, Inner Dawn Counselling and Training Services, which provides pre-marital counselling.

Nowadays, many couples getting into arranged marriages are also opting for pre-marital counselling.

“They use this to address sticky topics such as whether to have children, and how to manage finances and personal boundaries. These are topics they aren’t able to address by themselves so they go in for a formal setting,” she says, adding that parents are also recommending such sessions. 

People who have been in relationships earlier and carry emotional baggage, and people marrying for a second time also benefit from counselling, she says. 

Annapurna Murthy, career counsellor and director, Manasa Consultants, recently hosted a pre-marital counselling seminar in JP Nagar.

A career counsellor for many years, she organised something like this for the first time because of the increasing number of divorce cases and the effect she sees on young children.

“It seems that miscommunication and wrong perceptions are the main reasons for strained marriages. The speakers were academics, advocates, doctors and counsellors and covered a variety of topics, like how to make adjustments, see things from the right perspective, understand roles and responsibilities, strike a work-life balance, and understand legal aspects,”
she says.

She is concerned many couples are still not aware they have to register a marriage.

“Counselling about sex is also necessary because sex is still is a taboo in India and people have built up unrealistic expectations after watching porn. That, and other issues like marital rape, were discussed,” says Annapurna.

Software professionals struggle with maintaining a work-life balance, and they need counselling, she says.

“The response to our workshop wasn’t that great; quite a few cancelled the night before the event, which was surprising. But the who came said it was helpful,” she says. 

What if one is unwilling?

What if one person wants to try pre-marital counselling but the other says no?

Individuals can try this counselling if they are unsure about getting married or getting married to a particular person.

They might also want to work on their own insecurities and fears before embarking on a relationship or marriage.

“We need to understand why that one person wants to come and why the other person is reluctant. It is a positive sign when both want to understand and overcome setbacks. But there is still a lot of stigma around going to a counsellor,” says psychologist Kala.

A must in Kerala

The Kerala Women’s Commission recently recommended that the state government make pre- and post-marital counselling mandatory in view of the rising number of divorce cases.

The commission said it had discovered several cases women were facing psychological problems because of tense marriages. 

Where:

Some organisations offering pre-marital counselling:

Askmile Online Marriage Counselling- 080 4920 2332

Inner Dawn Counselling- 096321 46316

Professional Counselling and Training- 080 2363 8060

Silverline Counselling and Learning Centre- 077604 40403

TalkItOver Counselling & Life Coaching Services- 098869 67344

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