By Rebecca Padgett
We are fortunate to live in a day and age where counseling is highly available and encouraged. With counseling becoming more mainstream as a means to better ourselves, the same can be applied to marriage. Premarital counseling is a way to ensure you are both strong individually and together.
Premarital counseling is counseling that helps prepare you for marriage by ensuring that you and your partner have a strong, healthy relationship that will lead to a stable, lasting marriage.
You likely both feel strong and secure in your relationship, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek counseling. Counseling addresses both your strengths and potential weaknesses. It will likely uncover scenarios you hadn’t considered and how to handle them.
Even more support for counseling is backed by a 2017 study by the Journal of Family Psychology, which concluded couples with premarital education reported higher levels of marital satisfaction and experienced a 30 percent decline in the likelihood of divorce.
You and your counselor will determine the length and the period of the counseling sessions. During these sessions, the counselor will ask the couple to complete a variety of exercises and activities together. These could include reading articles or books, responding to specific situations that could arise in marriage, creating goals together, addressing strengths and weaknesses and more.
Topics often include finances, communication, values, beliefs, marriage roles, sex, parenting, decision-making, processing emotions, quality time and more.
Types of Counseling
Religious premarital counseling
Many religious institutions require couples to attend counseling before performing the marriage ceremony. If you are planning to get married in a house of worship, you will need to clarify their counseling requirements.
One-on-one professional counseling
This is the most traditional method of pre-marriage counseling, which includes meeting with a professional counselor who ensures the counseling is tailored to you as a couple. This is the most flexible form of counseling as it allows you to address specific concerns or questions. Because you are meeting one-on-one, your sessions will be completely confidential.
Online premarital counseling courses
If you prefer to keep your counseling just between the two of you, this is the best option. This style allows you to complete counseling on your own time via predetermined tests and activities administered online. Typically you will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course.
Compatibility tests or questionnaires
These are not necessarily premarital counseling in the standard sense, but they can be great ways to enter into counseling. Compatibility tests are designed to identify areas that are already strong and areas you may want to address to make your relationship even stronger.
No matter which you choose, there are a variety of wonderful benefits:
Counseling will provide you with a list of goals that you can work towards throughout your marriage.
You might think you know everything about your partner, but counseling will likely uncover more. By talking and expressing your thoughts and feelings, you are sure to walk away as an even more secure, stable and loving couple.
Adapt to Communication Styles
A counselor will help you address and establish what your different communication styles are, how to understand those communication styles and how to best communicate on a daily basis.
Dismiss Marriage Anxiety
Counseling will help to ease any anxiety or fear associated with marriage. A counselor has worked with many couples, which will assure you that you, too, can have a happy, successful marriage.
Tools for Combating Issues
Once your counseling is complete, you will be equipped with the tools to recognize and revise issues that arise.
Some ways to make the most of your counseling:
- Take it seriously.
- Understand it can be challenging.
- Listen to one another.
- Engage with each other and the counselor.
- Respect one another.
- Don’t share what you discuss with others.
- Apply what you learn to everyday life.
Some questions that counseling often includes are:
- What are some areas in which you would like to help your partner improve?
- What are some areas in which you have different opinions?
- Who will manage finances?
- How would you handle it if one of you lost a job?
- Whose career will determine where you live?
- When you argue, what does it typically stem from?
- Why are you choosing your partner?
- What are your views on parenthood?
- What are your relationship strengths?
- What do you expect your partner to provide for you?
- What do you intend to do to continue to stay in love?