Wednesday, October 14, 2009

An Atheist's Thoughts About Counseling

Today one of my friends on Facebook posted something about going to pre-marital counseling with their Priest. It got me thinking about counseling in general.

My semi-Catholic partner and I have also been going to counseling prior to getting married this fall. I say semi-Catholic because he identifies as Catholic, but only attends church when his mother is in town, he doesn't think everything the Pope says is correct, and he doesn't believe I am going to hell for being an Atheist. Since we are not religious, we see a secular counselor. We have discussed financial expectations (ie how we will spend money), child-rearing expectations (ie teaching kids about religion), and marriage expectations (ie whether we have any preconceived ideas about marriage).

The point is, I started wondering how many people think that counseling is only for the mentally ill or for couples with serious problems? I realized that I haven't told many people that we are going to counseling for fear that they will think we are having issues. Of course, we do have issues, but there is nothing to be ashamed of about that. Every couple has things to work out at one time or another, and a counselor can be a great way to faciliate. It doesn't mean that the couple can't do it themselves and it doesn't say anything about the viability of the couple.

Counseling is not just for the mentally ill. Pre-marital counseling is not just for the religious. Perhaps if more people aired their differences and expectations in pre-marital counseling sessions it would help combat the high divorce rate. And wouldn't that be a much more logical solution than turning to religion or god? In fact, I might go so far as to hypothesize that maybe one reason religious folks have a lower divorce rate is because of their pre-marital counseling. Now there's a religious-based idea that may make sense!

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