Why Pre-engagement Counseling Might Be Right For You And Your Partner

By Dylan Buckley|Updated August 3, 2022

In most cases, the goal of a relationship is to find love with another person and to maintain that love for as long as we can. When we find the individual who we believe to be "the one," the next step to take is often to propose to them, marry them, and then live happily ever after. After all, the perfect relationship is one where there is only a happily ever after and no conflict or sadness, right? In actuality, no relationship is without some level of conflict, and that doesn’t make the relationship “bad.” Instead, it means that it’s perfectly normal to assume that there will be ups and downs for you and your partner to resolve to make the marriage work.

Why Do People Seek Pre-Engagement Counseling?

Given that the US has a substantial divorce rate, many couples opt to receive pre-engagement counseling as a way to reduce the risk of divorce becoming a reality later on in the marriage. This type of counseling may help two people prepare for engagement mentally, will give them the tools necessary to help with communication and conflict resolution, and eventually, can prepare them for their married life. Overall, pre-engagement counseling is less commonly spoken of in comparison to premarital counseling, but it is quite popular, and it helps to provide an extra layer of security before engagement. Some couples who are very close to their church may even receive premarital and pre-engagement counseling through a member of the church. That said, it’s not just for those who are religious, and you can get pre-engagement counseling from a provider who is not affiliated with a religious institution. Many engaged couples who find a counselor have reported significant benefits from involvement in this type of therapy, including a higher success in marriage.

Wondering If You're Making The Right Decision?

Is Pre-Engagement Counseling Right For You And Your Partner?

Pre-engagement counseling, put simply, is for anyone. There are counselors who focus on distinct subjects and populations, which can be comforting to know for couples who need a provider with familiarity in a particular area or part of life. If you want to know whether pre-engagement counseling is right for you and your partner, you may want to explore some of the things that it can help with in your relationship. Here are some of the reasons people look for pre-engagement counseling:

  • Confidence in compatibility. Sometimes, couples ignore areas of incompatibility in hopes that, if not acknowledged, it will not show up in the relationship. This may backfire later.
  • Future preparation. Even if you and your significant other are the types to live in the moment, most couples have future plans of some kind. You can make sure you’re on the same page about what’s to come as you start premarital counseling.
  • A desire for conflict-resolution skills. Again, it’s most realistic to acknowledge that couples might not always see eye to eye, no matter how compatible or in love people are. Even the most healthy relationships face conflict, so it’s a good idea to get familiar with the tools that can help you resolve conflict effectively.
  • Insight into affection, intimacy, or both. Sometimes, people need support and love in different ways than others. In pre-engagement counseling, you can strengthen the sense of understanding in your relationship and potentially reduce the chance of having emotional affairs or getting hung up on a prior conflict.
  • Help with specific concerns. A couple may have had a prior prominent disagreement, or they may face an ongoing challenge, like matters related to mental or physical health, money, etc., that directs them toward counseling. Pre martial counseling helps you have that difficult conversation and gives you a chance to hear the person out.

To sum it up, pre-engagement counseling and/or education happens in a safe space where each partner can talk with their partner openly and honestly about their feelings and the future well before the wedding date. It is important to understand that counseling is not necessarily just for couples that are having problems such as an emotional affair. Pre-engagement counseling may just help to put you and your partner’s minds at ease regarding compatibility and plans, overcome trust issues, manage relationships with extended family members, and get to know one another better to help build a strong foundation for a healthy relationship throughout the rest of your life together.

Benefits Of Pre-Engagement Counseling

So, you and your partner have decided that pre-engagement counseling is right for you. Maybe one of the above reasons that people seek counseling resonated with you, or perhaps you simply want to add a layer of security to your relationship. This is excellent, but the questions typically don't end here. Many couples want to know what to expect after they have decided to make this choice and what they will be receiving from their counseling sessions after they find a counselor. Here are some of the benefits that couples can expect to receive when they choose this type of counseling for their relationship:

It Prepares Couples For The Reality Of Marriage And Life Together

Depending on your age and your dating experience, this may not be true for you — but for a portion of individuals, a dating relationship is a much more relaxed experience in comparison to more serious forms of commitment where things like shared rent or home ownership, kids, and money are on the line. This can be especially true if you don’t live together before the wedding date. Dating relationships are often focused on passion, togetherness, and fun, and they may lack the same responsibilities and expectations that come with engagement or marriage. Couples counseling can provide couples with a better look at this future and the many challenges that come with handling all of this with another individual, even during the course of a short engagement. They may work on communication skills, discuss expectations, and other key issues before they get married. When they are more prepared for the future, they can take these things as they come and handle them successfully while moving forward towards their wedding.

It Helps Couples Realize That Divorce Is Only One Option For Marital Issues

Couples who do not have extensive experience with serious relationships, have patterns of ignoring topics that may cause disagreement, or have not had to face many challenges in their current relationship will sometimes not know what to do when problems arise in marriage. It is a fact of life that some will marry another individual without knowing how to maintain a relationship or how to resolve conflicts. However, those who pursue counseling are not only equipped with the knowledge and tools to navigate marriage, but they know that both partners can avoid divorce and work towards keeping the relationship up with the proper drive and strategy. This isn’t to say that divorce is “bad,” but that, if you’re honest in counseling, you may be able to prevent some difficult situations that could occur later on due to lack of upfront communication. 

Pre-Engagement Counseling Covers All Aspects Of A Relationship

Pre-engagement counseling, like any good type of counseling that involves couples, does not focus on only one subject. Generally, pre-engagement counseling helps to provide you with a comprehensive overview of all of these related topics and will give you tools and resources to help you navigate these kinds of life situations. Even better, pre-engagement counseling can help you focus on some of the prior and/or current issues you are dealing with and how these may develop after you have married your significant other. Certain counselors will specialize in specific areas of life and will help you to target these areas to better prevent them from becoming an issue for you in the future. It may also mean that you address matters head-on that you’d be otherwise tempted to avoid, like debt or differing desires around building a family.

It Helps You Realize That Relationships Are More Than Just Passion And Attraction

Sometimes, we believe that we are in love with our partner when what we are truly feeling is lust, which is a common misconception in the dating period. Pre-engagement counseling helps us to explore this concept better by helping us to dive deeper into our partner's personality and habits and how we fit into that equation and relationship. Are you able to accept your partner for all their faults? Can you enjoy doing some of the things that they do? Will you be able to peacefully and authentically coexist with this person and keep that love going long after your engagement and marriage? These are all important questions to ask and ones that will help you discover the true depths of your current relationship and whether it would be wise and possible to move forward from dating to engagement and marriage with your significant other. You can figure out whether you simply have some things to work on, or whether it would be a smarter choice to go your separate ways until you find someone you are truly compatible with and share a stronger bond with, prior to getting engaged.

Pre-engagement counseling can also help couples better understand if they are compatible before any stressors that might occur in the relationship. Many couples feel pressured to push aside issues during the engagement period, but these may resurface later in the marriage. They may feel like it’s too late to bring up a topic that could stir things up, but this couldn’t be further from accurate. Now is the time! Your future selves will likely thank you.

Counseling can only help you with what you talk about; so, to get the best results, it’s crucial to be honest. Prior to counseling, you may talk with your partner and let them know that what you want is for both of you to be frank and open during counseling sessions so that you can address any relevant points and nurture your future together.

How To Receive Pre-engagement Counseling

Wondering If You're Making The Right Decision?

It may appear daunting to find pre-engagement counseling or premarital counseling, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Many providers, community centers, and therapy offices advertise their services online or are part of an online directory. That said, there are times when dealing with a waiting list, commuting to an office, determining the premarital counseling cost, or other concerns could get in the way for those considering face-to-face counseling. If you and your partner are planning on moving the relationship forward and getting engaged, consider receiving therapy from one of the many certified online therapists at ReGain. Online therapy has become very common and has helped many couples prepare for successful engagements and marriages. Online therapy allows couples to be flexible in their schedule as they’re able to access counseling sessions from anywhere they have an internet connection. Plus, it’s often more cost-effective than in-person couples therapy. The therapists at ReGain know how to prepare you and your partner for a happy, fulfilling, and more committed relationship.

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