What To Expect From Premarital Counseling

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated March 21, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Premarital counseling can help provide an opportunity for engaged couples to build a successful marriage, prevent future conflicts, and learn how to work through issues in a healthy way. It may help you get to know your partner more deeply, have serious conversations, and strengthen your bond, and this type of counseling has been known to reduce the divorce rate among married couples. Both partners may have their own individual therapy, but there are many topics and questions that can be discussed in pre-martial counseling. Working with licensed mental health professionals or a religious leader who offers premarital counseling can ensure that you get value out of your counseling sessions. You may complete couples premarital counseling in person or online.

Why should you consider a premarital counselor?

Rushing into marriage without taking the time to discuss various important topics can lead to a situation where married couples must go to couples therapy to resolve problems that didn’t have to occur in the first place. A Verywell Mind survey finds that many couples regretted not starting couples therapy sooner, which is one reason why many couples begin premarital counseling programs to build a solid foundation. In addition, tackling problems before they occur or grow could help strengthen the relationship and prevent any strain on you and your partner’s mental health.

Rather than seeking counseling to improve your marriage once things have already started to head south, it often makes sense to prevent any issues that may arise later with a good premarital counseling program before the big day. You don’t necessarily need to wait until there is something creating distance between the two of you. Talking about expectations, hopes, and things that bother either of you is something couples with a healthy relationship in a licensed marriage may do frequently.

Start your marriage off on the right foot

Get to know your partner better through premarital counseling sessions

Even though you may currently be blindly in love, both of you should remember that marriage can be a bond of many dimensions - financial, familial, sexual, and emotional.

It often takes time for a married couple to get to know their partner’s values, religious beliefs, how they handle conflict, and what involvement their partner’s family will have in their married life.

Making sure that you and your future spouse are on the same page regarding all these topics and have healthy communication skills to discuss them is perhaps the best way to maintain and improve your marriage. When trouble starts to emerge in married life, premarital counseling can help set a strong foundation and have huge benefits. Even if you're already living together before marriage with your partner, and you feel like you already know your partner well enough to resolve issues it may still be worth it to speak with a premarital counselor.

Good premarital counseling generally aims to give both engaged partners time to discuss hard topics and answer premarital counseling questions in an open, honest way during professional therapy sessions so you can have a better future together.

What kinds of topics are commonly covered in premarital counseling? A therapist is likely to start with a premarital assessment that includes a variety of subjects, such as how you both view commitment, how you resolve conflict, what your short- and long-term goals are, what kinds of expectations you have of each other, and how you will handle financial decisions. Here is a list of the types of questions you might expect:

  • What do you hope to gain from premarital counseling?
  • What drew you to each other initially? Were you looking for someone with certain qualities?
  • In what ways are you similar to your partner? In what ways are you different?
  • How would you define a happy, healthy marriage?
  • What makes you two "click"?
  • What kinds of personal goals do you aspire to? Do they mesh with any relationship goals you might have set?
  • What do you admire or respect about your partner?
  • Are you on the same page regarding family life and children? Have you discussed how you would manage these changes with the other person?
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Conflict resolution skills

The Gottman Institute couples workshops offer an engaging platform for couples to strengthen their bonds. Founded by renowned psychologists Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman, these workshops provide couples with practical strategies backed by extensive research in the field of relationship dynamics. Through the Gottman method, which includes interactive activities, role-playing, and expert-led discussions, participants can gain valuable insights into productive communication, conflict resolution, and emotional intimacy. The workshops aim to empower couples with skills to help navigate challenges and improve the quality of their relationships.

The Gottman Institute's approach is known for its emphasis on fostering friendship, managing conflicts, and creating shared meaning within relationships. With a focus on evidence-based practices and a wealth of expertise from the Gottmans, these workshops provide couples with a roadmap to navigate the complexities of maintaining a healthy and fulfilling partnership.

Start your marriage off on the right foot

More information on premarital counseling 

Whatever premarital questions you may have, premarital counseling with a family therapist can help answer them. Licensed marriage therapists, couples counselors, and family therapists can be instrumental in creating effective strategies to reduce conflict, tackle communication problems by discovering each partner’s communication styles, and improve relationship satisfaction in a safe space during joint sessions.

This is just a sample of the types of questions that may be introduced in premarital counseling sessions. You will likely be encouraged to continue difficult conversations on these subjects at home together and bring back any issues you want to talk about. While discussing these questions on your own is certainly helpful, having someone professionally trained in counseling who can walk you through the process can help you get the maximum benefits of premarital counseling and assist with resolving any potential problems that may surface.

Just remember that you generally get out what you put in. The goal of the experience is normally for you and your partner to learn more about each other and address any problem areas proactively. Premarital counseling may improve your communication skills and help you in setting realistic expectations for your marriage ahead. The more you express your thoughts and feelings in an open and honest way, the better the outcome you may have. You might even have some fun learning new things about yourself and your partner through this form of premarital education.

Try online pre-marital counseling

Although some hospitals or community centers may offer sessions, not every couple can access premarital counseling in person. It can also be difficult to align your and your partner’s schedules with a therapist’s schedule in order to set up pre-marriage counseling sessions, especially for busy couples. However, when you eliminate the commute and have access to more available session times, it can become much easier—and this is generally what happens when you choose to attend online therapy rather than in-person therapy. The difference in premarital counseling cost online versus in-person may also make sessions more feasible for couples.

This study explains that online counseling for couples can be an effective way to find support, especially when used along with in-person therapy. If you’re interested in completing pre-marriage counseling with your partner, please don’t hesitate to reach out and get the guidance you deserve.


During pre-marriage counseling sessions, you’ll likely discuss many different topics and answer questions about your relationship and expectations. Having these important discussions with the guidance of a licensed mental health professional can help you grow closer to your partner, prevent future conflicts, and learn how to work through future arguments in a healthy and supportive way. Pre-marriage counseling can even lower the risk of your marriage ending in divorce. If in-person counseling isn’t accessible for you in-person, you might consider trying online pre-marriage counseling.
Marriage can come with complex challenges
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