What Is Premarital Counseling and Why Do You Need It?

After your engagement, you and your partner would likely spend time planning the wedding with your closest friends and family. Though your big day should be one to remember, it’s also the start of a life-long commitment with your partner, so you both should start your lives together with a solid foundation. Couples therapy before the wedding can help, but what is premarital counseling?

Before partaking in the emotional, spiritual, and legal benefits of marriage, explore these details about premarital counseling and its importance.

Be sure to read more of our helpful tips and information at City Hall Wedding before saying, “I do!”

A man and woman sitting on a couch talking to a therapist.

What Is Premarital Counseling?

Premarital counseling is a form of therapy that partners participate in to ensure they set realistic expectations for their marriage before the wedding. It can prepare you and your soon-to-be spouse for marriage by initiating conversations that could identify potential areas of concern that could cause conflict or friction within the marriage.

The counselor or therapist will provide the tools and coping mechanisms to help you and your partner work through those issues and others that could arise. With premarital counseling, you and your partner will have a stronger foundation on which to build your lives together.

You and your partner don’t have to already be in conflict to benefit from premarital counseling. Licensed marriage and family counselors and religious leaders often provide the service to promote healthy, long-lasting relationships. Instead of waiting for problems to occur, you and your partner can get ahead of them with the help of a therapist and counseling.

Where to Find a Premarital Counseling Professional

Now that you know the answer to “What is premarital counseling,” you should know how to find help when you’re ready to seek premarital counseling.

If you’re a member of a church or spiritual organization, you can start there. Many religious leaders offer premarital and marital counseling for members of their congregation and community. For some religions, premarital counseling is a requirement for couples to marry within the house of worship.

Another option is to seek help from a licensed family therapist who offers premarital counseling services. Depending on your location, the type of sessions you participate in, and your counselor’s credentials, you might find this option effective yet costly. Affordable alternatives include online couples therapy and community programs for couples.

Types of Premarital Counseling To Consider

The effectiveness of couple counseling depends on the therapist’s skills and the couple’s commitment to do the work. Still, some types of premarital counseling may be more beneficial to you than others. Here are common approaches marriage and family therapists use for premarital counseling.

Gottman Method

The Gottman Method is a counseling technique that helps couples navigate areas of conflict while strengthening their bond as friends and intimate partners. It uses individual assessments of both parties to identify areas of conflict. The counselor will teach conflict-solving skills to promote healthy problem resolutions while minimizing the risk or frequency of defensiveness and criticism.

Emotionally Focused Therapy

EFT is a short-term therapy that helps couples improve their bond and friendship by tackling the negative emotions one might feel. As with the Gottman Method, you learn how to handle conflict and intense emotions in a healthy way.

Psychodynamic Couples Therapy

With psychodynamic couples therapy, you and your partner can better understand why you behave the way you do. You’ll explore everything from motivations and fears to hopes and appreciation to help you understand each other better and stay connected despite differences and disagreements.

Important Issues to Discuss Before a Long-Term Commitment

An essential aspect of premarital counseling is conversing about the serious topics that often arise during a marriage. Though some couples prefer to address situations and problems when they arise, sometimes they learn that their partners don’t agree with them or they have a very different way of handling things.

With premarital counseling bringing those topics to the forefront before the wedding, you’ll have a better understanding of what to expect within the marriage.

Below are some of the most common areas of conflict that many married couples face. Premarital counseling can help prepare you for:

  • Beliefs and Values: Everyone has their own beliefs and values, but sometimes they can clash with others. You and your partner can explore this topic through premarital counseling to foster a stronger understanding of each other.
  • Finances: Money is a major contributor to marital problems and divorce, so discussing finances before getting married is a must.
  • Marital Roles: People often assume couples must fulfill specific marital roles for the marriage to be successful, but what works for others might not work for you and your partner. Discussing the roles you and your partner expect to play in the marriage before the wedding can reduce the risk of conflicts.
  • Children: It’s common for couples to realize after marriage that their ideas about having children and how to raise them differ from their partner’s beliefs on the topic. Unfortunately, a disconnect between a couple and their views on raising children can lead to significant problems.
  • Family Dynamics: Marriage involves more than you and your partner; your families are also important. You can use premarital counseling to discuss familial relationships and any concerns you have.
  • Couples Activities: Premarital counseling can also help you and your partner plan ways to remain close throughout the marriage and spend quality time together.

Though these are some of the most common topics couples discuss in premarital counseling, your topics might differ. The point of the sessions is to help you and your partner understand each other, set realistic expectations for your marriage, and effectively plan for the future.

Find More Wedding and Marriage Tips from City Hall Wedding

City Hall Wedding is your online destination for useful information about one of life’s biggest milestones. We cover everything from answering “What is premarital counseling?” to boosting the involvement of the groom in the wedding plans. Discover more tips on our blog, or contact us for more help!