Premarital Counseling: How It Can Help Your Relationship
Updated March 03, 2020
Reviewer Rashonda Douthit , LCSW
Today, many engaged couples spend lots of time and money planning for a wedding. However, they sometimes neglect to plan for marriage. While most marriages have a foundation of love and it is nice to start off with a great big party in the form of a wedding, sometimes marriages can also benefit from premarital counseling. Some people may equate this with requirements for certain religions to get married in their church; however, anyone can participate in premarital counseling.
You do not need a religious affiliation to seek out premarital counseling. In fact, therapists are the best resource for this service, and they will work with any couple regardless of religious affiliation, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Their goal is to help you identify your goals and work towards them. As you consider premarital counseling, it is important to know that it can help your relationship in many ways. Learn more about some of the ways it can help your relationship:
Premarital Counseling Helps Improve Communication Skills
You may think you have good communication with your fiancé and indeed the two of you may be pretty good at talking to each other about many different things. However, once you enter marriage, there can be challenges with communication, especially as you spend more time together and encounter life's challenges. Premarital counseling can help you to improve your communication skills in several ways.
For one thing, having a neutral, third party present can help both partners discuss things they may have previously left unsaid. This can help each person better understand themselves and their partner. A Therapist can also help partners to talk more directly about how they talk. In other words, they help the partners examine their styles of communication and think about what each person needs, as well as how each person can better meet the others' communication needs. A Therapist can also help partners show empathy and improve discussions.
Opportunity To Address Issues
As noted, premarital counseling can help couples improve their communication by giving them space and place to say things that were previously left unsaid. Indeed, more generally, premarital counseling gives partners the opportunity to address any issues they may have and to resolve them before entering the marriage. This helps to start the marriage off right, with fewer challenges to deal with.
Issues that many couples need to resolve at some point in their marriage, which are good to go over in premarital counseling include views on money/finances, whether to have children, approaches to raising children, where to live, religious differences, and even who will do what around the household. Working these details out in premarital counseling can prevent conflict later. It may also be easier to talk about these issues openly when a trained counselor is present to help facilitate communication.
Time To Plan The Future During Premarital Counseling
Remember, even though you might be otherwise busy planning the wedding, premarital counseling is a great time to plan the marriage. While couples may have talked dreamily about their marriage, this setting allows people to make more concrete plans for their future. This might include specific goals for their lives together, including for family, joint-career, and financial planning.
This time to talk about the future in premarital counseling is especially helpful for couples who may have differing visions for their future. It can provide a place for both parties to talk and listen. This allows each partner to feel heard. They can talk, with the help of the counselor, and bring their visions together into a united plan for the future. This will certainly start the marriage in the right direction.
Learn More About Marriage in Premarital Counseling
Some couples enter marriage with different ideas of what marriage is and what it can look like. This might be especially true if the partners grew up in different types of households. If one partner had divorced parents or a single-parent they might not have much of a good model for marriage. Premarital counseling can help both partners examine their views of marriage and learn more about it.
When couples work with a Therapist in premarital counseling, they help the couple explore their individual and joint visions of exactly what they want their marriage to be. The therapist will get the partners discussing their current views, finding the differences, and figuring out how they want to define their marriage. They can also help couples by recommending books and other resources.
Learn More About Yourself
While premarital counseling, like other forms of couples counseling, may be fairly focused on the relationship and both partners as a unit, it can also help each partner learn more about themselves as individuals. Of course, good marriages are built on a foundation of two individuals coming together into a unit, and so each should be able to function independently and interdependently in the relationship.
Premarital counseling can help partners share personal information, such as fears, that they may not have shared previously. Both partners can learn more about their thoughts on marriage and each other's thoughts. Sometimes premarital counseling uncovers something that one partner may want to work on individually, and the counselor can help refer them to an individual therapist.
Build A Happier Marriage with Premarital Counseling
Premarital counseling is not just about discussing issues and avoiding potential problems; it is also about building a happy marriage together. Premarital counseling can provide a place to discuss many things, including what you do as a couple to make your relationship feel happy and fulfilling. Essentially, couples can prepare for the end of the honeymoon phase and plan ways to extend it.
In general, when couples know how to talk about their emotions, wants, and needs, they will be able to build and maintain a happy relationship. A Therapist can also help partners talk about what they each want in the relationship, including what they need to feel good. The couple can even work together, along with help from their counselor, to discuss the things they will do for a happy marriage. This might include things like planning for date nights and other marriage habits they will engage with.
Learn How To Argue
Even the happiest marriages will likely have times of disagreements. Learning to communicate better will help couples talk rather than argue and will make arguments go better when they do happen. Premarital counseling can also teach couples conflict resolution skills.
In premarital counseling, couples start to learn conflict resolution skills even just through the process of counseling. The therapist helps them use these skills as they talk about and work through areas of difference, and resolve problems during counseling sessions. The couple can practice these skills and use them outside of the session too. The therapist may even ask the couple to practice particular skills outside of the therapy setting so that they can get better at those skills.
Premarital Counseling Will Strengthen Your Bond
Probably the biggest goal of premarital counseling is just to strengthen your connection as a couple. Marital relationships contain many components. There are elements of friendship, emotional and physical intimacy, and a commitment to stay together for the long-term. If you have chosen to marry, you likely already have a strong bond, but premarital counseling can help to make it even stronger.
Premarital counseling can strengthen the bond by helping couples resolve any problems they may have, giving them the skills they need to solve their problems on their own, and assisting in defining the shared relationship. The very process of participating together in premarital counseling can also help to strengthen the bond. Overall, premarital counseling can help couples come together as a united team, committed to sharing their lives together, and with the skills necessary to deal with potential problems.
In addition to all these benefits, research shows that couples who participate in premarital counseling do tend to have more successful marriages. This is defined as lower divorce rates. This outcome is a product of these benefits, as the couple will have started the marriage off better and will have the skills to deal with any problems that arise.
Further, having had a previous positive experience in counseling, these couples are more likely to return to couples counseling later in the marriage, if needed. This can keep the marriage going well, prevent bigger problems, and also prevent divorce.
Premarital counseling is a great investment for the future of your relationship. You may be able to find a local therapist for your premarital counseling. Today, many couples, who are busy with wedding planning, work, and other commitments, prefer to pursue premarital counseling through online platforms or teletherapy. This allows the couple to participate in and receives the counseling they need, but with an easy schedule, from the safety and security of their home environment.