Marriage is a huge step in any relationship, which is why it’s important to do everything you can to give your marriage a solid foundation. One of the best ways to do this is to do premarital counseling. By going to premarital counseling, you can improve your communication and problem skills and make sure that you and your future spouse are on the same page as you step into the rest of your lives.

The qualified premarital counselors at Thriveworks can help you and your partner work through any concerns you may have and gain important skills that will help your marriage thrive.

What Is Premarital Counseling?

Premarital counseling is a type of therapy that occurs prior to getting married, helping couples build a happy, successful marriage. Similarly to couples therapy and marriage counseling, it can help couples develop essential communication skills, identify potential conflict areas, and learn how to manage their specific relationship issues. Premarital counseling is often led by mental health professionals called licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs) who specialize in helping couples. 

With nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce, premarital counseling is a very beneficial service — it is important that couples consider seeking out premarital counseling before they tie the knot. 

Who Should Seek Premarital Counseling?

A variety of couples should seek and can benefit from premarital counseling, including engaged couples and those considering making a lifelong commitment. 

Premarital counselors can help couples resolve regular arguments. They can help one individual in a relationship who is “non-committal” better understand their commitment issues and how to move forward. They can also help to better educate couples on the realities of marriage and set realistic expectations for themselves and each other. All of the above can help couples build a strong foundation for a healthy relationship

The benefits are virtually endless. Research has shown that it can reduce divorce rates, curb pre-marriage jitters, and set goals that lead to a long-term healthy marriage.

When Should You Start Premarital Counseling?

As mentioned previously, premarital counseling is normally sought out during an engagement, but it is also useful for those still contemplating marriage or unsure about their next step

If you and your partner are engaged or seriously discussing the potential of getting married (soon or at any given point in the future), and you’d like to talk to a professional about it, now is a good time to start premarital counseling.

How Does Premarital Counseling Work? 

The goal of premarital counseling is to help couples build a solid foundation for marriage and/or decide if they are ready for marriage. To reach this goal, premarital counseling employs a variety of therapeutic techniques and approaches.

If you and your partner decide to pursue premarital counseling, your counselor will want to get to know you both as well as your relationship. In order to accomplish this, they will ask questions around the following:

  • Common interests and activities
  • Role expectations
  • Communication
  • Religious beliefs
  • Marriage expectations
  • Budgeting and finances
  • Children and parenting
  • Sex issues

If there is a particular area that they feel needs to be explored further (for example, you note that you and your partner have very different spending habits and views on money), they’ll guide the conversation in the given direction. 

That said, it is important to note that signing up for premarital counseling does not guarantee “I do” will be or must be said. In fact, some couples go through premarital counseling and find it best that they do not pursue marriage, and they both go on to live separate happy, healthy lives.

What Does a Premarital Counseling Session Look Like?

The structure of premarital counseling can differ among therapists. Some prefer to first see each individual separately, which allows them to identify and understand any individual concerns or issues. Other therapists focus on the two as one entity from beginning to end.

However, once the couple begins sessions together, they then typically:

  • Address any current concerns in their relationship
  • Discuss expectations and hopes
  • Identify how they plan to achieve those goals
  • Work on building conflict resolution skills

Sometimes, premarital counseling also involves making a Couples Resource Map. This aids each partner in identifying resources that will come in handy when they face given challenges. Similarly, partners typically create a plan of action to refer to and utilize if conflicts do arise. This plan of action may involve attending a counseling session and/or referring to one’s individual resources.

Premarital counseling can be difficult; it’s not always easy to hear your partner’s concerns or negative feelings. Therefore, one should try to go in prepared for tough feedback, whilst remembering the many benefits to come.

Is Premarital Counseling Required for Couples Getting Married?

Some churches or religions may require a number of premarital counseling sessions with one of the pastors or religious leaders before they agree to marry a couple, but in terms of the law, no, premarital counseling is not required for couples getting married.

However, it is often a very beneficial resource that helps couples lay a strong foundation for their future partnership

How Long Is Premarital Counseling?

Generally speaking, premarital counseling typically lasts for 8-10 weeks. This, however, can vary widely depending on the counselor’s approach as well as the clients’ preferences and needs. For example, some couples might request additional sessions to work through problem areas that they’ve identified in their relationship, pre-wedding. 

How Effective Is Premarital Counseling?

Premarital counseling has been shown to be very effective in improving relationship satisfaction, communication skills, and even reducing the likelihood of divorce. According to research, couples who underwent premarital counseling had a 30% higher marital success rate than couples who did not.

Couples who participate in premarital counseling often have higher levels of relationship satisfaction and marital happiness than couples who do not engage in counseling. 

Why Is Premarital Counseling Important?

Premarital counseling gives couples a safe, dedicated, and open space to discuss concerns and align their expectations regarding various aspects of married life such as finances, parenting, roles and responsibilities. Communicating about these aspects of marriage and partnership is essential to creating a healthy and happy dynamic between couples.

Addressing and managing differences early on in a relationship can help prevent future conflict. Often, premarital counseling can help lay a solid foundation for marriage by exploring and addressing potential issues or challenges before they become significant problems that are too charged or discordant to deal with on one’s own. In short, premarital counseling can help a couple improve communication, problem-solving, and conflict-resolution skills so that they can deal with anything life throws at them as a solid team.

Get Premarital Counseling at Thriveworks

At Thriveworks, you can meet with compassionate experts as you discuss your goals for therapy and ways you and your partner can better work together as a couple. Our therapists can give you treatment as individuals as well as a couple, and will work with you to create a treatment plan that suits you.

Get the expert help you need to start your marriage right with a Thriveworks premarital counselor. Go online or call a local office to book a session today.