Taffy Wagner, a certified personal finance educator, who offers both pre- and post-marital counseling with a focus on money, tries to get couples to understand that they need to talk about income, spending and debt. The couples who come to her have decided they want to do this marriage-and-money thing right. "They value the marriage enough," says Wagner. "They want to make sure they've gotten all the 'i's dotted and the 't's crossed. They've considered a more general form of premarital counseling, but don't feel they'll get enough of a financial education there."
During her sessions, she asks couples, "What is your mindset when it comes to money? What were you taught about money? What did you do when you were on your own? What do you want to do moving forward? How will you communicate about this?" Through her sessions, she helps couples establish mutual financial goals.
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Ryan Dalgliesh, a 35-year-old pastor and the author of Love Notes: A Biblical Look At Love, provides one-on-one counsel through the Church, and himself received premarital counseling from his pastor. In detailing his own experiences, he stresses the importance of learning about marriage from someone you know and respect—someone who has a marriage you can aspire to. "I grew up in a very dysfunctional home. I wanted to know what a good marriage is supposed to look like." Because of this, he tries to provide a good example to those who come to him for counseling, and also urges them to seek out advice from other happily married couples.
He also goes over the practical stuff with them, in particular sex and finances, the two biggest causes of divorce. "If people are miles apart on expectations," he says, "the marriage is over before it begins."
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On the topic of his faith—and on what the church has to offer that a mental health professional doesn't—he says, "my goal is to show them that their spouse isn't the priority. It's about God. If I love God, I should be a good husband. I'm good to my wife because I'm supposed to be good to my wife, regardless of how I feel today." Speaking of faith-based counseling...