Why Premarital Counseling?
One of the most common questions I get from engaged couples is, “What are the benefits of premarital counseling?” Since it’s often asked, I thought I would share a few of my thoughts here in hopes that it will help you gain a better understanding as you look into premarital counseling.
- Build on strengths. Premarital counseling is a great opportunity for couples to identify the strengths of their relationship and build on them. Having a healthy relationship is a good thing, but it’s even better when each person knows that they contribute to making it healthy. During premarital counseling, we often look at these together – in theory and in practice (in session) – so couples have a good understanding of the tools they already use.
- Improve growth areas. Many times, couples have issues they are either not aware of or they don’t believe are significant. As a trained professional, I can help couples identify their problem areas and help them begin to improve them to increase their chances of having a successful marriage together. Every couple has their own unique struggles, so the premarital counseling process helps bring yours into the light so it’s not a surprise later on and so that you’ve already got some good experience tackling those issues in effective ways.
- Learn about yourself. Marriage is one of the most wonderful experiences, and also the most challenging. It forces you to see yourself from someone else’s perspective, and see how you impact your partner. This can be very difficult, but an integral part of molding yourself to becoming a better partner to your spouse because the only person you have the power to change is yourself! If each person is working to make himself/herself a better partner, you can be sure your relationship is healthy and growing in the right direction.
- Make an investment. Premarital counseling is an investment into your future. Yes, it does cost time and money but it can save tens of thousands of dollars, heartache, and brokenness from your future. The more you work at building a marriage relationship that is strong and healthy now, the less likely you are to be at risk of divorce later on. Of course, this doesn’t guarantee it will be easy. In fact, I can almost guarantee it will be hard. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be incredibly rewarding at the same time.
So now that you have a better idea of “why premarital counseling?”, let’s look at what it typically entails. Most premarital counseling lasts 8-12 sessions, depending on the couple and their situation. It’s ideal to begin the process early on in the engagement because it allows plenty of time to address any issues that may arise so you have the most confidence on your wedding day. It’s also helpful to start early because as that Big Day draws near, details of the event become overwhelming and there’s usually not as much time or energy to devote to premarital counseling.
In terms of frequency of meetings, couples can choose this based on their preferences. I’ve seen engaged couples weekly, bi-monthly, and once a month for premarital counseling. Each one can be productive depending on the couple, their issues, and our schedules.
I like to use at least one assessment tool to help speed the process along, and to give some specific direction of what to focus on. The 16PF and Prepare-Enrich are the tools I most commonly use (you can read about them here). These cost extra, but save lots of time, effort, and money in the long run because they point out your individual and couple strengths, growth areas, and potential issues that can be immediately addressed in counseling.
I hope this information has been helpful to you as you consider premarital counseling. If you have specific questions or concerns, use the Comments box below (to post publicly) or feel free to send me an email (privately) using the form on my Contact page – I would be happy to answer your questions as best as I can!