Starting Off On The Right Foot: Premarital Counseling

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated October 20, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Premarital counseling can help provide an opportunity for engaged couples to 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. There are many topics and questions that can be discussed in pre-marriage counseling, and 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 counseling pre-marriage in person or online.

Why Should You Consider Premarital Counseling?

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. Avoiding this backward approach is one reason why many couples opt to attend pre-marriage counseling. 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

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.

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 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?

iStock/Goodboy Picture Company

If you plan to have children, how would you describe your parenting styles? Are they in sync?

What role will your in-laws and other family play in your life? How often do you expect to see them?

Where would you ultimately like to live? Do you have a lifestyle you are hoping to achieve?

What are your professional goals? What sacrifices might need to be made so you can help each other achieve them?

What are your expectations for alone time? Friend time? Couple time?

Do you have a clear understanding of how your past relationships may affect your relationship with each other now?

Are there any changes you would like to make in yourself that you are hoping your partner will support?

How important is it to you to achieve a certain financial status?

Have you discussed how you will handle money on a day-to-day basis? Will you have joint checking accounts or separate ones? Do you agree on a monthly budget?

What role did money play in your family growing up? Are there any issues from your early experiences that may affect your relationship now?

Have you discussed any debt either of you has? What is the plan for paying off this debt?

Start Your Marriage Off On The Right Foot

How do you go about resolving conflict with each other? Would you like your partner to respond differently?

How will you divide housework and/or yard maintenance?

Do you have a role model for the type of partner you would like to be? Or the type of marriage you would like to have?

Do you have the same expectations regarding sex? Is sex a topic you can speak openly about with your partner? Does your partner expect sex more or less often than you do?

How important is religion or spirituality to you? What role does this play in your life now? If you plan to have children, are you in agreement about how you will address this topic?

Is there anything that would be considered a "deal breaker" in your relationship? What actions or behaviors are off-limits?

What kinds of traditions or rituals would you like to start as you begin your life together?

Is there any information or topic that hasn't been brought up that you think is important to discuss?

More Information On Premarital Counseling 

Whatever premarital questions you may have, premarital counseling with a family therapist can help answer them. Licensed marriage and family therapists trained in family psychology can be instrumental in counseling premarital issues and improving conflict resolution skills 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-Marriage 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

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started