Why Pre-engagement Counseling Might Be Right For You And Your Partner
In most cases, the goal of a relationship is to find love with another person and maintain that love for as long as we can. When we find the individual who we believe to be "the one," it may feel natural for the next steps to be to propose, marry, and 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, but 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?
The US currently has a substantial divorce rate, which has inspired many couples to 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 can help couples prepare for engagement mentally by giving them the tools necessary to help with communication and conflict resolution that can be used after their marriage.
Pre-engagement counseling is less commonly spoken of in comparison to premarital counseling, but it is quite popular, as it helps to provide an extra layer of safety before engagement. Some couples who are very close to their church may even receive premarital and pre-engagement counseling through someone from 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.
Is Pre-Engagement Counseling Right For You And Your Partner?
Pre-engagement counseling, put simply, can be for anyone. There are counselors who work generally with couples of all demographics, but also those 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, so addressing it in therapy can help you both be prepared to handle the conflicts.
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. It’s realistic to acknowledge that couples might not always see eye to eye, no matter how compatible or in love people are. Even the healthiest relationships sometimes 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.
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, 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
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
For a portion of individuals, a dating relationship is a much more relaxed experience compared to more serious forms of commitment where things like 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.
Those who pursue counseling can be not only equipped with the knowledge and tools to navigate marriage, but they can know that both partners can work toward 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 usually focus on only one subject. It can help to provide you with a comprehensive overview of many different topics and give you tools and resources to 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 develop a stronger bond with, prior to getting engaged.
It Can Help You Resolve Conflict Early
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.
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 Online
It may appear daunting to find pre-engagement counseling or premarital counseling, but it doesn’t have to be. 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 effectively helped many couples prepare for successful engagements and marriages. Online therapy allows couples to be flexible in their schedule as they’re able to receive counseling sessions from anywhere they have an internet connection. Plus, it’s often more cost-effective than in-person couples therapy.
Pre-engagement counseling can help you and your partner go into the next phase of your relationship with confidence and the tools necessary to ensure that you are both happy, healthy, and getting the best possible experience from your relationship. Whether you work online or in person, committing to counseling can be a great way to show your dedication to making your relationship work and taking active steps to ensure that it does.
Commonly Asked Questions
What do you talk about in pre engagement counseling?
The transition from dating to engagement is a big one. Whether you have a long engagement or a short engagement, it’s important to go through this relationship transition together with your partner. As you shift from the dating mindset into engagement and then wedding mode, it can be helpful to meet with a counselor or therapist to discuss some of the big changes that are coming your way.
Many of the topics that are covered in pre engagement counseling are pretty similar to those discussed in pre marital counseling. For example, throughout the counseling process, the couple will talk through many of the issues that arise during a marriage with a therapist. The topics usually involve things like the couple’s desire for kids, the benefits and drawbacks of married life, how they will deal with any existing family issues before the marriage, and how they will resolve conflict when it arises.
One of the main talking points in pre engagement and pre marital counseling is to discuss expectations and learn to resolve conflict. One of the biggest struggles that married couples face in their first year of marriage is unmet expectations. Pre engagement counseling offers a safe and judgement-free zone for the couples to discuss and manage their expectations together with a licensed counselor.
In addition to talking about these things, the marriage and family therapist will also offer advice and tools to help the couple succeed. The main goal of pre engagement and pre marital counseling is to set the couple up for success before they exchange their vows. Then, once they’re engaged and eventually married, they’ll already have some understanding and skills to help them overcome conflict and struggle in the relationship.
What does pre engagement counseling look like?
Pre engagement counseling looks a lot like pre marital counseling, in that it focuses on building a healthy relationship that will withstand conflict and hardship. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you need to wait for conflict or struggles to arise before you decide to start pre engagement counseling or premarital counseling. Instead, a premarital counseling session should focus on taking an open and honest look at your expectations and discuss the ways that your engagement and marriage will change your lives.
Usually, pre engagement or premarital counseling is done over the course of several weeks or even up to a few months. Each pre engagement or premarital counseling session might focus on a specific aspect of the upcoming marriage or relationship. Alternatively, the therapist might simply ask open-ended questions and see where the answers turn the conversations throughout the counseling process.
A major goal for many pre engagement counseling is to establish and understanding of both partners expectations for the engagement, wedding, marriage, and relationship beyond that. As they discuss expectations, both partners are encouraged to look at their own role in the relationship and consider how that might look in the future of the marriage.
Premarital counseling also looks at prior and existing relationships, and examines the ways that those relationships can grow and change in light of your engagement and marriage. For instance, the relationships that you and your partner have with your parents and family will probably change a lot after your engagement and marriage. Or, if you have kids from a prior relationship, they can be deeply impacted by your engagement and marriage as well.
Overall, the goal of premarital counseling is to equip the couple to go into their marriage relationship with as many tools as possible. The topics in premarital counseling are great for learning how to communicate more clearly, enjoy intimacy, show love in meaningful ways to one another, and resolve conflict when it inevitably arises. These tools can help strengthen and preserve your relationship so that it can last a lifetime!
What questions are you asked during pre marriage counseling?
When you just start premarital counseling, it can be normal to wonder what kind of questions will be coming your way from the family therapist. Some of the most typical relationship questions that you could be asked in premarital counseling include:
- What are your expectations about the engagement? Will it be a long engagement or a short engagement?
- What are your expectations about marriage?
- How do you expect your life to change after your engagement/marriage, and how do you expect your life to stay the same?
- How do you react and respond to conflict? How did your parents and/or families react to conflict when you were growing up? How have these relationships and reactions to conflict impact your own response to conflict in your life?
- What do you want the wedding to look like? When is the wedding date? How will the wedding get paid for? How big will the wedding be, and who will attend the wedding?
- Do you have the desire to have children? How many children do you want to have? Will one partner be primarily responsible for looking after the children? How will your life and relationship change once you have children? What is your timeline for starting a family?
- Would you ever consider divorce as a means of conflict resolution? What other alternatives from divorce do you view as valid means of conflict resolution?
- What benefits do you expect to enjoy from your marriage? What beautiful aspects of marriage do you anticipate? What are you looking forward to the most in your marriage relationship?
Do you do premarital counseling before or after engagement?
What is the purpose of a pre-engagement questionnaire?
Is premarital counseling a good idea?
How long is most premarital counseling?
Does premarital counseling reduce divorce rates?
What is the helpers role in premarital counseling?
Why should the couple undergo premarital counsel?
While not every one of these questions may be asked during your premarital counseling, you can expect several questions along these lines. Also, don’t be afraid to come to premarital counseling with some questions of your own!
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