What Is Premarital Counselling And Who Is It For?

Updated January 13, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Most couples enter a marriage thinking about the marriage arrangements and talking to their wedding planner team while they decide who to invite. They get caught up in the preparations, getting ready to make those lifelong vows. Unfortunately, not all couples consider what comes next, which can lead to tensions within the relationship, and too commonly "Until death do us part" becomes little more than words of passion. Many partners don’t spend much or any time thinking about how they will resolve conflict or talk openly when difficult problems arise after their wedding day.

All relationships require a solid foundation to stand on. It's common for couples to get cold feet as the wedding approaches, faced with the daunting ceremony. Sometimes it can be because you're just not good in front of crowds, but marriage anxiety can also be brought on by concerns about the future of your marriage. That's where a couple therapist trained in premarital counseling can help. Research shows that couples who attend premarital counseling sessions have stronger relationships than those who don’t.

Premarital counseling aims to help couples open up and address any conflicts before they become potentially destructive to the relationship. The benefits of premarital counseling are entering the commitment on the same page with each other and gaining basic conflict resolution skills to deal with problems when they come up. A couples’ counselor or couples workshop can help you and your future spouse have important but difficult conversations that will keep you on the same page and set you up for a healthy relationship together. If you plan to get married in a church or other place of worship, generally, faith based religious leaders there often require that couples complete a premarital counseling program before they get married. If not, it may be a good idea to seek out a professional counselor on your own.

Things To Know About Premarital Counseling

This form of couples therapy is designed for people who are not yet married but planning to get married soon. The couples counselor can be a licensed marriage and family therapist, another type of licensed therapist, or a pastor or priest with training in this type of therapy. In most cases, the partners attend several joint sessions with the counselor to explore what the marriage means to both partners before they tie the knot. In some cases, partners attend couples workshops with other soon-to-be-married people and engage in a group course that provides insight and education about the commitment they are about to enter. Others chose to work by themselves through books, podcasts, or online courses such as those presented by relationship experts John and Julie Gottman. The important thing is for both partners to feel they have the right therapist for their needs.

Feel Like Going To Pre-Marital Therapy Means You Failed?

What Does A Premarital Counselor Do?

Relationship therapists providing premarital counseling can offer an extensive array of services to better the chances that your marriage will last. In some states, couples can get a discount or waiver of fees for their marriage license if they participate in premarital counseling prior to being wed.

Relationship therapists create a safe space for couples to be able to talk about and address concerns, express emotions, and allow each person to communicate honestly. A relationship therapist is able to provide advice, gain insight, and teach couples effective ways to communicate. This allows each person in the relationship to address all issues and concerns and feel positive and confident going forward on a strong foundation in their marriage.

Many couples opt not to reach out to a premarital counselor, commonly because they either believe they have no problems, or they believe they'll solve them on their own. However, a premarital counselor can help in multiple ways. For example, some of the advantages of premarital counseling include coming to terms with differing opinions, exploring conflicts about a partner’s beliefs, and difficult decisions and issues that might include a frank discussion about the partner’s family, the couple’s sex life, or a partner’s feelings about how many children to have, if any. Premarital counseling sessions are not all the same for every couple, and the issues you choose to discuss when you seek premarital counseling will depend on what you and your partner discuss when you sign up for premarital counseling services.

Benefits of Premarital Counseling

Premarital therapy helps couples plan for the future, set financial or family planning goals, and help couples find ways to accomplish their goals. Premarital counseling offers a safe place for couples to talk about expectations they have for married life and what they want personally in the future with their partner.

The time spent in premarital counseling can help you discover what the other person thinks about many topics before you walk down the aisle and help you have a stronger relationship. In premarital counseling, you may explore the topic of religion, and what religion you will raise your future children under. You might talk about children and if you want them and how many. You may talk about your in-laws and how you want to split time between them on holidays or on regular occasions. You might talk about how you want to split house duties or how you want to raise children or how to go about setting realistic expectations about finances in your married life. All of these things are important to talk through before marriage, and premarital counseling is a great place to discuss these things and create a plan of action so that you can feel prepared. Doing this can help prevent future conflict and arguments for married couples.

Effective communication is one of the most important aspects of any marriage, and premarital counseling can be a great place to learn how to communicate effectively with your partner, using the insight and experience of a marriage counseling expert. When a couple stops caring and stops talking to one another, it is very likely that the marriage will not last. Counseling can help the two of you to learn how to be good listeners, so that you know what the other person needs and wants. Keeping an open line of communication between couples and being able to express love and continue to build on your relationship can help a marriage last. Premarital counseling can help couples learn to talk to each other and express feelings in a way that will not damage the relationship. You can learn when it is appropriate to express how you feel and how to speak honestly without causing the other person to feel defensive.

Premarital counseling is also beneficial for the little problems that might already exist in a relationship. Little problems can turn into major arguments if they are given the chance to fester and build up internally. Holding things in, and not talking about them can create resentment towards your partner, which can cause tension and unkind feelings. Counseling can address these issues that are currently affecting your relationship and help you work through negative feelings before they turn into something bigger.

Who Is Premarital Counseling For?

Premarital counseling is an excellent avenue for couples who plan to get married and want to gain communication skills that could save their relationship in the future. It's a common misconception that only people in terrible circumstances need counseling. Couple of any race, gender, age, or previous marriage history can benefit from this type of counseling.

Maybe you have a bit of trouble expressing how you feel, or you want advice on how to express yourself in a loving way. Maybe there is that nagging little conflict that is always there but doesn't feel big enough to bring up, and you are hoping it will just go away. Maybe you feel like your relationship has hit a rocky patch, but both of you are committed to saving the relationship and moving forward with marriage. Premarital counseling can benefit any couple considering long-term commitment, especially marriage.

How to Get Premarital Counseling

As mentioned earlier, most churches offer pre-wedding counseling, sometimes free of charge. You might want to talk to your religious leader at your place of worship and find out what they offer. If you and your significant other are not planning on a religious ceremony, there are still many options. There are many therapists who offer counseling services, as well as online resources such and BetterHelp. Premarital counseling costs typically run from $50 per hour up to $150 per hour, but online therapy at BetterHelp can be considerable less expensive than in-person one on one meetings with a marriage and family therapist.

When you seek premarital counseling, make sure that your potential therapist specializes in this type of counseling service. Providing premarital counseling is a specialized field that not all family therapists are trained in, so be sure to ask the appropriate questions before making a time commitment with a specific therapist for premarital counseling. When you find a therapist, you might want to ask them, “What is premarital counseling for you?” to see if their answer is on the same page with your needs.

Before you begin counseling, check with potential marriage and family therapists to see what insurance plans they are in-network with. For all therapists who do not accept insurance, ask your insurance provider what your out-of-network coverage is. Some insurers may cover a portion or all of your counseling, so be sure to check to see what type of coverage is offered.

BetterHelp is a convenient option for busy couples to talk to a licensed marriage and family therapist who specializes in premarital counseling. Licensed marriage counselors at BetterHelp can work with you and your partner through video chat sessions, phone calls, or even text messaging, making it easy to get the counseling services you need before your wedding day.

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