What is Pre-Marital Counseling?

Angie Dion, MFT, LMFT, Therapist

Posted by: Angie Dion
MFT, LMFT, Therapist

Congratulations! You’ve gotten engaged to the person whom you adore. As you begin planning for your wedding, something else to consider is premarital counseling. There are many reasons to explore premarital counseling with your sweetie before The Big Day.  Read on for the top reasons.

1.Premarital Counseling will provide a safe space to explore difficult topics with your partner.
One of the most important reasons to use premarital counseling is to have an open dialogue about difficult issues that most couples will have to grapple with. For example, do you want kids? How many? Are you religious? What religion do you want to raise your children in? What about circumcision, breast feeding and/or co-sleeping? How about financial issues? How is debt or savings handled? How much can each of you spend? How will you handle the holidays? What will you do if your in-laws begin to meddle in your lives? Are these issues you’ve discussed with your partner? If not, a therapist will help to tease out these issues and help the two of you come to some kind of agreement, understanding or compromise.

2.Be proactive about the issues in your relationship.
Many couples seek out therapy when there are major issues within the relationship. View premarital counseling as a way to intervene on potential issues and develop a road map to resolve predictable tension points before they become problems.  Premarital counseling helps couples navigate the challenges of marriage.

3.Discuss your contracts now and how they may shift after marriage.
You may not be aware of this, but you have spoken and unspoken contracts within your relationship right now. Throughout a relationship, these contracts can shift on their own to accommodate the changes in your lives and in your relationship as you grow as people. Some examples of contracts are: which partner initiates sex mostly? Who apologizes after a fight first? How are you viewed emotionally? Who is in charge of finances, grocery shopping, walking the dog or cleaning the bathroom? Sometimes issues can arise if you don’t revisit these contracts from time to time to make sure they still work for both partners.  

4.Premarital counseling helps to improve your communication and your bond.
Your therapist will ask you to discuss a topic and then observe your current communication style and patterns. The therapist will provide feedback and make suggestions on how to improve upon the skills you already have. We can all improve in the area of communication. Spending time on the couch can be tough and awkward at times. This can help bond you and your partner, going through this exploration and improvement together.

5.Explore the way you handle conflict.
Most people learned how to handle conflict from their families of origin and/or past relationships. Often these lessons, while effective in the past, may not be what your partner needs the most.  If you and your partner have trouble resolving conflict in a way that brings the two of you closer, therapy can help you fine tune your skills to working through differences.

Premarital counseling is useful for the couples are grounded in their relationship. those who want to make sure that no stone has been unturned before agreeing to marry, as well as for couples who are not sure if they want to progress towards marriage.   Premarital counseling is short term and prepares you for the path the two of you have decided to embark upon.  Couples who are still struggling with the fundamental question, “should we be together?” and “what could marriage look like?” can still benefit from premarital counseling, but the process is typically longer and includes a fuller process.