What Is The Value?
There is ample research that indicates that couples who undergo some type of structured, intentional premarital counseling or marriage preparation program have higher marital success rates than couples who do not.
Let’s face it--all relationships, even good ones, require work. Individuals grow and change over time. Life circumstances change. Since a marriage is a relationship of two changing individuals lived out in the context of life changes, the relationship must grow, evolve, and change. Premarital counseling provides tools which can aid the couple in negotiating the challenges of life.
I do not require premarital counseling before officiating a wedding since for any counseling to be effective, the couple must be committed to the process. If they are doing the counseling only because it is required, the necessary personal commitment might not be there. However, if you are electing to go through the process, and paying for it, a certain degree of commitment to the process is more likely present, increasing the potential for success.
Though I do not require premarital counseling, I do recommend you consider it!
What is it Really?
Perhaps a change in terminology would be helpful. The phrase “premarital counseling” was developed decades ago when this process was done primarily in a religious context and carried out mainly by professional clergy. It was an extension of “pastoral counseling” and so calling it premarital counseling made sense.
However, today, for many people, “counseling” connotes therapy. It is addressing an existing “issue” or “problem.” This therapeutic connotation can lead couples to think it is of no current benefit to them because things are going well. In short, they are thinking of premarital counseling as “marriage counseling.”
What might be a more accurate term for the process in today’s language would be “premarital coaching.” In a sense, the process is closer to life coaching than therapeutic counseling. The focus is not on addressing problems in the relationship therapeutically but rather, the development and improvement of basic life skills that can be applied in the living out of the marriage.
Also,don’t be limited by the idea of “premarital.” Though it is mainly done before marriage, it can be done anytime--before the marriage, after the marriage, later on in the relationship as a refresher. In fact, it can be done by any couple in a relationship whether planning to be married at some point or not.
What Types of Topics are Addressed?
Topics commonly discussed are stress management, conflict resolution (decision-making and problem-solving), communications skills, basic financial management, sexual expectations, marriage expectations, parenting expectations, and goal-setting.
How Does it Work?
You would, individually, take an online assessment developed by professional marriage counselors and psychologists. I would then receive a report indicating the areas of your relationships that are strengths and areas that need some growth. This helps to focus the sessions.
We then set up 6 hours of coaching (usually 3 2-hour sessions) which can be done in your home or via Zoom video conferencing. The sessions include exercises in a couple’s workbook.
How Would We Get Started?
If you have questions or need additional information, just reach out to me and I will be glad to answer your questions. If you did decide to go through the process, just let me know and I can set you up for the assessment followed by setting up the sessions.