FRANK Sinatra may have sung that love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage but, according to Relationships Australia, making sure your horse and cart are compatible in the first instance is often the answer to ensuring a lengthy trot.
Relationships Australia senior clinical leader Diana Sayer said regardless of whether couples were getting married for the first or third time or even just moving in together, ironing out potential disagreements through pre-marriage counselling could save a lot of hurdles down the track.
"The main thing we find is it opens up the communication," she said.
"Sometimes couples go into the next stage of the relationship where they have this rose-coloured view of the relationship."
Ms Sayer said there were a vast number of factors to consider in any relationship before taking things to the next level.
She said there were often differences between couples that might not even come to light until both partners were under the one roof.
"It's really about identifying what those differences are and talking through them," she said.
"We find some of the main reasons for couples separating are values and beliefs.
"Counselling puts those things on the table in the beginning."
Ms Sayer said the point of identifying differences between couples in pre-marriage counselling was to learn to work around potential issues, rather than one person in the relationship feeling the need to change for the other.
"Things that can come between couples are their ideas on parenting and how they see themselves with children," she said.
"People's attitudes towards sex is also something that can cause problems in the future of a relationship."
Ms Sayer said the Relationships Australia FOCCUS pre-marriage program had been counselling couples for about 30 years.
"It's not to say couples won't have problems later on, but it's very beneficial in the longer term," she said.
Things to talk about
- Desire for children, or lack of
- Career plans
- Home location
- Attitude to sex
- Cultural or religious differences
- Time spent with friends and family
- Expectations for closed or open relationships
- Attitudes to drug and/or alcohol use
- Personal values
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