Do Premarital Courses Improve Your Marriage?
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated November 11, 2019
Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
Are you getting married soon? If you are, then you're probably already thinking about how you can improve your marriage and keep that spark alive, right? You've probably heard all the horror stories about relationships that didn't work out, and you don't want that to happen in your relationship, so you want to stack the deck a little. Premarital courses are one such way that you can stack the deck. That's because these courses help you understand your partner before you tie the knot.
What Are Premarital Courses?
There are different types of premarital courses. You could go away to a type of camp (either a 'sleep away' camp or a day camp style) that help you and your partner to spend some time together and get to know each other. These camps can be quite intense and aren't as easy to do for most people, though. There are also courses that you can attend with other couples who are getting married just like you, where you work together on different relationship building exercises and talk about different issues you might face in the future. You may also find courses that put you and your partner one-on-one (or two-on-one as the case may be) with a therapist. These courses give more personalized attention.
There are also some religious leaders that like to do premarital counseling sessions with couples before marrying them. If you are going to go this route, it's important that you are working with someone that is experienced in counseling couples. Many times, in these types of sessions, you work through a book that leads you through discussion topics with questions and answers.
Many of these courses, however, are going to ask you to practice trust exercises, to practice communication, to role-play different situations and scenarios and a whole lot more. They're going to ask you to discuss different issues that you may or may not have even considered so you and your partner can feel like you're on the same page getting into the relationship. You don't need to agree on everything (and in fact, that would probably be pretty boring), but you do need to know what the other person thinks or feels in situations where you disagree, and premarital courses can help with that.
Why You Want Premarital Courses
Okay, so we touched on this a little already, but the most important thing is that you will learn how to communicate with your partner. It's not just about exploring every possible situation that the two of you will find yourselves in while you're married. That's impossible. There's always going to be something that pops up that you could never have expected and the two of you will disagree, but with these courses, you're going to learn how to talk to each other even when you're angry or upset.
Communication skills are a very important aspect of any counseling, and premarital courses are no exception. You want to know how to talk to your partner about absolutely anything, and even though you may think you're already doing pretty well, true communication is about more than just getting the words out. You'll learn how to talk so your partner understands what you mean rather than interpreting what they think you mean (which could go very wrong). You'll also learn how to understand what your partner means when they say things as well.
Keep in mind, the two of you may have different ways of saying the same thing, but if one of you doesn't understand that's what the other means it could result in a fight when there was no reason for one. You want to keep your relationship happy and healthy, right? So why wouldn't you want to stack the deck in your favor and understand the best options when it comes to communication?
Working through a premarital course will help you with that. Of course, it's going to help you with some of those major issues and understanding your partner's opinions too, and that's also important.
Topics That You May Discuss
While it would be impossible to cover every issue that could come up in your marriage, some common topics are generally discussed during premarital counseling. Many times, included in the session will be talking about your upbringing. The way that you were raised as a child and the example that your parents set for you often play a big role in what you expect marriage to be like. The chance that your spouse was raised in a home that was identical to yours is very small. That means it's helpful to discuss what your experiences were like and how they have shaped your expectations for your marriage.
This also includes discussing the roles that each partner plays within the marriage. If you grew up with the example that the wife stays at home once children enter the picture, you might expect your marriage to work the same way. But, if your spouse was from home with a single parent, they may not have the same expectations that you do. Discussing these expectations before you tie the knot is important for helping you get on the right path in your marriage.
Other expectations that you should discuss during premarital counseling include any that relate to intimacy, finances, and parenting styles. These are all common topics that can cause problems within a marriage.
The Importance of Understanding Expectations
We all have expectations of how marriage is going to go. The problem is, many of us don't realize what those expectations are. This means that we don't share and discuss our expectations with our future spouse.
Eventually, there will come a time within your marriage where your expectation and your spouse's expectations aren't going to match, and disagreement is going to arise. When you don't realize that the argument is about unmet expectations, it's hard to get to the bottom of the root cause. This is why it's so important at premarital counseling that all of these potential hot-button topics be discussed. When you can discuss the issues and come to compromises before getting married there will be fewer surprises in this area after you are married.
Premarital Counseling Helps to Boost Marriage Success Rates
The numbers vary slightly based on what study you are looking at, but overall, the results show that premarital counseling helps to boost your chance of having a successful marriage. However, even with those numbers, less than half of the couples getting married are attending this type of therapy.
Many couples think that counseling or therapy is only for couples that are having problems. However, in this case, the therapy is used to help set you up for success in your marriage. It helps you address some of those tough conversations, like whose family are you spending Christmas with, before you are in the heat of an argument having to work it out.
Premarital counseling works because it helps to teach you important communication skills along with other skills, that help you to overcome the bumps that will come along in the road. It's much easier to address potential problems before they become a problem than to wait until it has exploded into something much bigger.
While these topics may seem like they are minor, such as discussing how to create a budget, but they are the things that trip up marriages all the time.
Getting The Help You Want
If you and your partner are going to get married, you may want to find someone that can help you through a premarital course. It's going to depend on the specific type of course that you want to make sure that you find the right person to help you. If you're looking for that two-on-one session, then you're going to find a whole lot of places to get some help, but not all of them may be as comfortable as you would like them to be. Regain is one way that you can get the help that you need and still feel comfortable with it.
With ReGain and other programs like it, you talk to a professional right online, through your computer or another internet connected device. You don't have to leave your own home if you don't want to and you also don't have to connect only with therapists that are located near your home. You can talk to someone who practices in other cities. Because you're communicating with your home, you and your partner may feel much more comfortable sharing and being honest, which is what makes therapy even more effective.
No matter what you and your partner decide to do, talking with a professional and attending premarital counseling can most definitely make a difference in your future relationship. Even if you learn nothing more than how to communicate in a new way with your partner you've gotten something valuable from it.
Someday, when you and your partner disagree about something, you'll be able to stop and look at each other and say, 'this is what we practiced' and you'll be able to sit down and have a rational discussion. It will pay off for both of you when that day comes.
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