When couples get married, they are marrying more than just an individual. They are marrying a family. Individual identity is rooted with the family of origin. The self is a reflection of the family and developed in response to the family. Those responses can be inline with or conform to the family roles and beliefs or they can be in direct opposition. Nonetheless, they are in response to the family of origin. The family of origin may come in the form of the traditional nuclear family, single parent home, extended family, foster family or even a gang. The content of the family of origin is not the focus rather it is the system of how the family influences the individual. Cultural and ethnic identities are derived from the family of origin.
The family of origin is the model and template each person brings into a relationship. Every family has a certain pattern of interacting or behaving. Some families are closer than others are. Some are more involved and controlling than others. Not all patterns are beneficial. Some are abusive and problematic. Premarital counseling helps to shed light on these shameful family secrets.
New relationships attempt to meld different family patterns into one new family. Even though individuals are not locked into family pattern, it does provide a clue how individual might respond. Premarital counseling helps the new couple recognize family patterns and tradition in orders to combine and create new ones. The new family becomes the family of choice.
Premarital counseling helps to join the couple into a new relationship. Each can identify problematic family issues that range from emotional cut-off to over involvement. The counseling should provide an assessment to the couple regarding their degree of distance and closeness from their birth family. Gone unnoticed, that degree of distance and closeness can have an adverse effect upon the family of choice.
A technique to assist the couple within premarital counseling is to invite the parents into the family of origin session. The parents can share their pearls of wisdom and pass on their legacy to the young couple. Then the couple must be free to make their own mistakes and grow. This type of counseling can assist the older generation with closure and aid them in letting go of their children.
The use of a genogram is a great tool to help couple visualize past patterns and interactions. The genogram can also show gaps of information and emotional cut-offs. It can highlight family secrets and shameful events. Couples are free to tell their story, as they are the experts of their life. Premarital counseling highlights the family of origin and helps each partner understand whom he or she is choosing to marry. It’s an excellent tool for making an informed decision.