Why would a couple need premarital counseling if they’re young, in love and eagerly awaiting their whole life of wedded bliss? Well, though marriage is indeed one of the most exciting life changes, it’s also just that – a huge life change.
He popped the question, then she said, “yes”! The wedding plans are in the works and the couple is buzzing with excitement, basking in the glow of young love. It’s easy to let this exciting time in life be completely consumed by wedding plans, figuring out where you’ll live and dreaming of the future, but don’t forget about premarital counseling.
Part of taking marriage seriously requires working to make sure you and your future spouse are laying as strong of a foundation for your life together as you possibly can. Many pastors even require some sort of premarital counseling before they will perform a wedding ceremony. The idea may seem less than romantic, but having the chance to talk through any points of conflict, make sure you’re on the same page regarding intimacy, finances, and family plans can set you up for a much smoother entrance into married life.
Premarital counseling, like the name suggests, is counseling that specifically addresses the concerns and time period directly before marriage. It is often a requirement for couples who wish to be married by a pastor or in a church, but is a wise choice for any couple. Even if you don’t have any pressing concerns, premarital counseling can help you sort through issues that might arise and strengthen your relationship. This type of counseling is most often done by a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) but it can also be conducted by a pastor or other religious leader.
Often if premarital counseling is done by a pastor they will have some type of training or use specific resources that walk a couple through basic concerns. If there are more complicated concerns that come up, for example working through a history of sexual abuse or unhealthy past relationships, or if the couple needs more specialized help for specific issues, a pastor should refer them to a counselor with more training.
At Rowlett Christian Counseling, premarital counseling can focus on almost any area of concern but usually will walk a couple in a systematic fashion through some of the most common areas of conflict. Some counselors prefer to begin with individual sessions for each member of the couple and then progress to working with the couple together. Others might conduct all of the sessions together.
Premarital counseling can come alongside individual counseling if there are things that one or the other or both need more support to address. In most cases, premarital counseling is confined to a set period of time, and will be done over a period of several months.
The obvious answer to this question is that premarital counseling is for engaged couples. This is true! But what if you feel that your relationship is completely solid and you have already worked through all your issues? What if you don’t think you have anything left to talk about? Even if you think your relationship is rock solid, you can still benefit from premarital counseling. The fact is that because getting married is such a fundamental life shift, the more preparation you put into your relationship the better.
Think of premarital counseling as planning for your married life, rather than just planning for your wedding. In the past there’s been a perception that premarital counseling is only for those in certain denominations, or for couples who are struggling. However, statistics show that premarital counseling is beneficial for all couples.
According to one study, prioritizing counseling before marriage reduces your risk of divorce by 31%. While some pastors might require premarital counseling before agreeing to officiate, it’s a really wonderful idea to seek counseling even if it’s not required. It can be pricey, but if you look at it as an investment into your future, then planning to use part of a wedding budget to help give yourself a solid foundation makes sense.
Your wedding is one day of your life, but when you get married, you’re entering into a relationship that you will hopefully have for the rest of your life. Investing in the marriage, not just the wedding, is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Premarital counseling is one of the best ways to make this investment into your marriage.
The scope of premarital counseling can widen to address any issues that a couple faces. However, at Rowlett Christian Counseling it’s most common for premarital counseling to center around topics like:
- Communication and conflict resolution
- Finances and money management
- Expectations about family and children
- Exploring family of origin dynamics
- Sharing dreams
- Setting goals and long-term plans
- Emotional engagement
- Managing stress and caring for selves/each other
Much of premarital counseling will be a deeper dive into exploring topics that you have probably touched upon while dating, but may not have fully explored. In the starry-eyed phase of infatuation, it can be difficult to slow down enough to think through topics like finances and long-term goals.
A counselor’s goal is to help both of you to engage and to work through any differences so that you are going into marriage with as cohesive a relationship as possible. Another main goal of premarital counseling is to give each individual the tools to communicate and navigate conflict in a productive manner.
While it might be hard to imagine you will have conflict, it’s a matter of when it will happen, not if it will happen. Learning to share honestly, listen receptively and understand each other’s history and triggers can give you a significant advantage when you’re in the midst of a stressful situation. Couples who “fight fair” have a much higher likelihood of being able to resolve and work through conflict without losing positive regard for each other in the process.
Another common topic in premarital counseling centers around the biblical imperative to “leave and cleave.” Depending on one’s family of origin, this can be a difficult concept. Premarital counseling can help to address areas where boundaries with parents and family members might be appropriate as the couple navigates towards forming their own new family unit.
You might think that your marriage only involves two people. But as holidays and other family events roll around many couples find they’re faced with a variety of competing values, expectations and demands on their time. When this happens, you’ll be thankful you’ve taken the time to develop a cohesive strategy for maintaining your marriage as a priority, while also navigating important outside relationships.
If you’ve recently gotten engaged, participating in premarital counseling is one of the best ways you can support your relationship. If you are involved in mentoring or guiding a soon to be married couple, you can also be a great support when you recommend premarital counseling.
It’s tempting to brush off premarital counseling as unnecessary, especially in a season where there’s no shortage of other components that need planning. However, your relationship with your future spouse is a foundation that you hope to be building on for the rest of your life. Investing your time in counseling now will help you strengthen that foundation for your marriage.
If you’re concerned about the cost of premarital counseling in Rowlett, consider adjusting your wedding budget to accommodate this expense. Wedding favors might be fun to buy, but learning how to communicate through conflict is a gift that will keep giving to you for the next decade. We’d love to talk to you and explore options for premarital counseling in Rowlett, Texas.
Eaton, H. (2021, August 10). Destigmatizing premarital counseling. The Gottman Institute. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.gottman.com/blog/destigmatizing-premarital-counseling/
GoodTherapy. (n.d.). Premarital counseling. GoodTherapy. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/modes/premarital-counseling
What to know about premarital counseling. theknot.com. (2019, November 29). Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.theknot.com/content/premarital-counseling