What is Premarital Counseling?
Premarital counseling is an educational and psychotherapeutic process where a couple accesses their relationship strengths and challenges. Premarital counseling is most beneficial for couples just prior to making a more serious commitment to one another, but can also be useful at other points in the relationship process. Marriage preparation gives the couple the opportunity to take the temperature of their relationship and a moment to consider their future together. Couples often consider future plans such as roles within the relationship, plans for children, financial planning, communication styles, and family histories.
Premarital counseling is a particularly important and time-sensitive process because research shows that most couples usually begin counseling after problems have already begun. Many couples initiate counseling because they are unhappy with their partner and/or something has gone wrong in their relationship. John Gottman, a leading researcher in the field of marital therapy has concluded that, “the average couple waits six years before seeking help for marital problems” (Gottman, 2004, Self Help & Tips section, para. 2). This statistic is particularly disconcerting considering that some studies suggest that more than 50% of all divorces occur within the first few years of marriage (Carroll & Doherty, 2003). In a meta-analysis of premarital counseling programs, the average person/couple who participated in a premarital counseling program was better off after the program than 79% of the people who did not participate in such a program (Carroll & Doherty, 2003).
Why should we go to Premarital Counseling?
The goal of marriage is not just to stay together but to have a fulfilling, close relationship that enriches the lives of both partners. Premarital counseling provides the couple with the tools to live their best relationship possible. Marriage represents for many couples the formal transition from a single person to a couple. Taking another person’s needs and desires into consideration while honoring your own needs and desires can be tough at times. Premarital counseling optimizes each person’s ability to have a relationship that meets their needs while still maintaining personal passions and interests. Previous relationship challenges and unresolved childhood challenges can also weigh down otherwise healthy relationships. Premarital counseling can also help to identify possible growth areas for the relationship.
Indicators that you may Benefit from Premarital Counseling:
- If a significant change in relationship commitment is on the horizon
- If you and your partner plan on structuring your relationship roles differently than your parents
- If communication and/or handling conflict is sometimes a challenge
- If your new level of commitment will require changes for your extended family and friends
- If you want to keep your sexual relationship fresh and exciting
- If you want to get on the same page financially
What is Premarital Counseling Like?
Depending on each couple’s particular situation and desire, premarital counseling can either be a structured or unstructured process.
In the structured scenario, a couple will be asked to take the PREPARE relationship inventory. Once they have done so, they will be given a copy of their couple’s report, which highlights the areas of relationship strengths and challenges. The couple will then work with their counselor on addressing the identified areas of relationship challenges.
In the unstructured scenario, couples will be asked to share specific issues they are struggling with and/or want to work on. The counselor will then help the couple address and resolve these issues.
Regardless of the approach taken, all couples will receive information/education derived from the latest research on premarital couples and the transition to marriage. In addition, couples will engage in experiential exercises such as role plays and couples’ dialogue.
How is Premarital Counseling Different than Couples Counseling and Marriage counseling?
Premarital counseling is different from couples and marriage counseling in that it is a preventative process as opposed to a curative one. Even though many of the same core issues are addressed in premarital counseling as in couples and marriage counseling, they are discussed from the perspective of helping both partners understand, reconcile, and integrate each others views/beliefs/lifestyles so that conflict can be minimized and connection can be maximized.
The Goals of Premarital Counseling are to Teach You:
- To communicate about challenging issues proactively and effectively
- To resolve conflict successfully and respectfully
- To create and stick to a financial plan
- To agree on role responsibilities and expectations
- To nurture your friendship and sexual relationship
- To maintain appropriate boundaries with extended family and friends
- To envision and accomplish your individual and shared dreams
- To find a healthy and happy balance between marriage/family, work, and self
Benefits of Premarital Counseling:
- Successfully transition from being a dating couple to a married couple
- Increase confidence in your ability to overcome future challenges
- Heal existing relational wounds/disagreements
- Feel close and connected amidst the stress of wedding planning
- Have a joint plan for and vision of your marriage
Premarital Counseling in NYC
We provide a wide range of psychotherapy services, with premarital counseling being one of them. This website provides information about the various premarital services and couple services we offer as couples prepare for marriage. Please visit our main website to view our full range of services. Midtown Marriage and Family Therapy.
Call us at (917)-968-5599 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on our services or to get started.