One of the most enjoyable aspects of doing premarital preparation is the opportunity to work with couples before negative patterns and bad habits become set in stone. There may be challenges as they take on the more difficult matters raised by the Conversation Jumpstarter. But all in all, these couples are generally more positive and hope-filled than those seeking counseling after their marriages have begun to sour.
Don’t take that positivity for granted. Build on it. Notice when couples have done something well: “Arthur, it must have been hard for you to hear what Guinevere said. I love how you stuck with it. And Guinevere, you seem more relaxed, like Arthur really connected with you. Is that right?”
In other words, notice when one person does something that helps the other feel loved, appreciated, or understood. Point out both the behavior and its result, and help them to understand that the positive things they do for each other are the bedrock of the relationship and should never be taken for granted: “All couples have disagreements. What matters is what you do with them. What the two of you did just now, the way you connected despite the disagreement, is what your relationship is all about.”
Give them a positive vision of a strong relationship that sometimes encounters difficulties; without this, they may eventually develop a negative vision of a problematic relationship that only once in a while gets it right.