Premarital Counseling: Benefits & More

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated April 22, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Getting married can be a significant life milestone for many people. As soon as you said "yes" or popped the question, you may have envisioned the life ahead of you and your partner. However, part of the planning that goes into your marriage and life after the big day may include preparing for challenges.

Many couples elect to attend couples counseling pre-marriage, before their wedding ceremony. Couples counselors can prompt partners to consider questions and scenarios they might not have discussed and give couples a safe space to practice healthy problem-solving and coping skills before they marry. Any couple can try premarital counseling online or face-to-face, regardless of their relationship's health. Many couples use premarital counseling to discuss and process potential concerns before they occur. In short, premarital counseling can help by offering effective strategies to build a solid foundation for your relationship.

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Practice makes (almost) perfect

While a "perfect" union may not occur, premarital counseling could help you and your partner address issues that married couples often face. 

You may be asking, "What is premarital counseling?" and how it might be a useful tool for future married couples. Did you know that counseling can provide a future married couple with conflict resolution skills and strategies? For example, they may learn to discuss sensitive topics like spending money or having children. 

Often, the purpose of this proactive strategy is to prevent couples from engaging in unhealthy behavior that could cause challenges in the future. Examples of some topics that are discussed during a premarital counseling program include the following: 

  • Individual and joint finances
  • Parenting styles
  • Communication styles
  • Conflict resolution strategies
  • Decision-making styles
  • Roles in the marriage
  • Family therapy

What makes a healthy marriage? 

93% of Americans think a healthy marriage is one of the most important life goals. However, the divorce rate is high in the US. Although many couples begin their relationship with the best intentions, challenges may occur. 

Research shows that when couples attend non-public sessions with a premarital counselor, it increases their chance of having a successful marriage by 30%. Essentially, premarital counseling may help couples prepare for marriage by setting realistic expectations and establishing healthy communication skills to help cut divorce rates.

A healthy marriage might also include the following: 

  • Healthy boundaries
  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Honesty 
  • Openness
  • Humor, laughter, and fun 
  • Emotional intimacy 
  • Commitment and willingness 

What are therapy styles used in premarital counseling?

Depending on your background, reasons for seeking support, personality, and your partner's personality, there are different types of premarital counseling. Choosing the most effective type of premarital education based on these factors might increase its effectiveness and the benefits you receive from the experience. 

Faith-based premarital therapy 

Generally, faith-based sessions can be conducted in a combination of different styles, including group courses, one-on-one meetings with a religious advisor, or compatibility tests. For many people, religious beliefs are a part of how they approach married life. 

If your partner's religion differs from yours, you might also address these differences during counseling sessions. 

If you engage in religious or spiritually-based counseling, ensure you meet with a counselor with a degree in counseling, proper state licensure, and experience with couples. Sometimes, a religious leader offers premarital counseling or support but is not licensed to provide mental health advice. You can check a therapist's license status through your state licensing board by phone, email, or mail.   

One-on-one professional therapy 

One-on-one premarital counseling sessions can teach you how to tackle common issues related to long-term commitment struggles. You may have opportunities to ask questions and work through potential issues before they grow. Many licensed marriage and family therapists accept insurance if you're seeking premarital counseling and are concerned about the cost. 

Different approaches to premarital counseling

Below are a few other premarital tools you and your partner might utilize. 

Online courses 

You may answer premarital counseling questions in a quiz format and receive customized feedback based on what the survey finds through an online course. At the end of the course, you may receive a certificate of completion as a reminder of your commitment to your marriage. For example, the Gottman Institute offers a variety of couples workshops and courses like this following the Gottman Method, a research based approach to relationships. However, some courses may not be led by a licensed counselor. Take the information you learn from an online course in stride and ensure you reach out to a licensed provider or doctor for further guidance. 

Compatibility tests or questionnaires 

These assessments may be used as a resource to help facilitate your individual growth and ability to offer proper support to your partner during your marriage. Many can be found that are created by therapists with a background in couples or family psychology. They can be a fun way to start conversations and discuss certain areas, such as your love language.

Group courses and discussions 

Group sessions often occur in community centers with other soon-to-be-married couples. You and your partner may learn about new conflict-resolution strategies you may not have considered. Group courses and discussions may tackle subjects you might learn in couples therapy with a less personalized lens, or have discussions around marriage self-help books. 

Benefits of therapy during engagement

One of the many benefits of working with marriage and family therapists that couples often overlook is that it may not only improve their relationship and ability to communicate but also reduce conflict. Therapy could also set the stage for both individuals to seek professional guidance if they experience relationship struggles later in their marriage.  

In one study, researchers determined that couples who worked with marriage and family therapists before marriage were more likely to request an appointment with mental health professionals or a marriage and family therapist if they had problems after marriage. Both couples and individuals in the relationship may reap the following benefits from participating in premarital counseling. 

Mutual goals and resolutions for your marriage 

By discussing beforehand what you hope to get out of your marriage, you can determine your goals and potential resolutions for common marriage conflicts. When you both understand your goals and wants for the relationship, even when it comes to difficult conversations like sex or resolving conflict, you may feel more compassionate toward your partner and understand their motivations for specific actions.


Adaption to new communication styles 

Another of the potential benefits of premarital counseling is that you may learn how to adapt to each other's communication styles to ensure that you'll be able to successfully talk through potential problems and resolve conflict, instead of ignoring or arguing about them. If you communicate differently, your therapist can teach you what this means and how to tackle it. 

Anticipation of conflicts before they occur  

Pre-marriage therapy can help you work through potential short-term conflicts before they occur to ensure that differences do not lead to difficult issues or long-term challenges. 

Understanding of marriage anxiety  

During your joint sessions, you might confront possible causes for anxiety and work through them. Facing issues head-on could help you and your partner feel reassured that marriage is the next positive step for your relationship. If one of you doesn't feel ready for marriage, your therapist can help you discuss it and devise solutions or compromises. 

Strategies for premarital counseling success

If you and your spouse-to-be decide that professional support is for you, there are ways you can ensure you get the most benefit out of the experience. These include the following: 

  • Understanding that premarital counseling may be challenging
  • Reducing the temptation to "cheat" or downplay thoughts and opinions to make it seem like you and your significant other are completely compatible
  • Letting go of the idea of a "winner" and "loser" 
  • Respecting that time with your therapist is a "safe zone" and that what you discuss with them can't be fuel for future arguments or "I told you so" moments

Family systems and relationships can be beneficial to the health of a marriage. Develop a healthy relationship with both sides of the family, if possible. Family involvement can be essential for many people as they work to build a solid foundation for their marriage. 

"How can I find premarital counseling near me?" If you and your fiancé(e) have decided to embark on this journey, plenty of resources are available to help find a professional counselor for your intimate relationship needs.

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Counseling options 

Today's busy couples may have trouble scheduling in-office appointments. Along with managing individual responsibilities like work and family, the time leading up to a wedding may be busy. Online counseling through a platform like BetterHelp can be convenient for busy couples who are serious about strengthening their relationship, but have trouble committing to in-person sessions with a couples counselor. 

Not only is preparing for a wedding time-consuming, but it can also be expensive. For some, it may be difficult to afford premarital counseling, due to premarital counseling costs. Online therapy is often a more affordable option for couples than in-person therapy, which can reduce stress leading to a wedding celebration. It can also be as effective. In one study published in 2022, researchers divided 30 couples into two groups to receive face-to-face or video-conferencing couples therapy. After six sessions, results indicated no difference in benefits between the two groups, which both experienced improvements in relationship satisfaction and individual mental health. 

Attending therapy online can offer engaged couples the convenience they seek to maintain their busy lives while preparing for their new connection. 


As you look to the future, you and your spouse might consider premarital education or therapy to ensure your relationship is built on a strong foundation. Professional therapy can be comparable to planning your dream honeymoon with a travel agent. You might have a successful marriage without outside intervention; however, you can increase the possibility of success when you work with a professional to start on the same page. Consider reaching out to a counselor for further guidance and support.
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