So, you and your partner are thinking about tying the knot? Unfortunately, many couples rush into marriage before sitting down to talk about what they want from their lives and what they expect from the marriage once completed. While this can work out, and it is never too late to have those discussions, getting these crucial discussions out of the way before getting married is typically the best option.
This is exactly what premarital counseling is for. Premarital counseling is a type of couples counseling that focuses on helping you and your partner prepare for marriage. The primary goal of premarital counseling is to help you and your partner discuss the crucial issues — such as the desire for family, life plans, and financial concerns — you’ll tackle together as a married couple. But what exactly does premarital counseling do?
Today, we’ll jump right into how premarital counseling can help and touch on some tips for helping you find a good counselor.
How Does Premarital Counseling Help?
What can you expect in a premarital counseling session? Just like any other type of counseling, what any given session looks like will depend on the particular circumstances of the relationship. However, premarital counseling sessions generally include a combination of the following components.
The basic goal of premarital counseling is to help couples prepare for marriage and help them to build the good habits and behaviors they will need to succeed in the marriage. While there are many different ways to approach these crucial premarital questions and conversations, many couples find premarital counseling to be incredibly effective for preparing them for their future together.
Now, without further ado, let’s get into some of the typical points you will go over in your premarital counseling sessions.
Discussing Important Issues
Sharing your life with someone is an incredibly large and important decision. The unfortunate truth is that not everyone has the same life goals, outlooks on the world around them, and desires for their lives. While this can make it harder to find someone you want to spend your life with, it keeps the world interesting. But, before you decide to marry someone, you will want to ensure that you will be compatible in the long term.
Here are some of the topics you may discuss in your premarital counseling sessions that relate to values, aspirations, and life expectations.
- Values, religion, beliefs
- Roles in marriage
- Family relationships
- Sex and romance
- Goals, plans, and dreams
Planning for the Future
Future planning is a crucial part of premarital counseling and any relationship that is looking to work long-term. If you are planning to marry someone, you want to know that they have a similar image in mind for your future together. The last thing you want is to go through with marriage only to find years later that you never talked about whether or not you and your spouse want kids, the same type of home, or even to live in a certain state or country.
Understanding Your Partner
Learning about our partner is one of the best parts of a close and intimate relationship. We learn about all the cute things they do and quickly notice the little things they do that tick us off. Of course, it is completely normal not to want to spend every waking moment with your partner — in fact, this is healthy. But, before committing marriage, you want to ensure that you understand and know your partner enough to determine whether or not you want to share your life with them.
Premarital counseling can be a great opportunity for you to learn more about your partner and their goals, values, and wishes for their lives in the future.
We all have an image in our minds of what marriage is. Maybe it is what you grew up with — for example, your parents’ or grandparents’ relationship. Maybe it is what you’ve seen on social media or TV shows. No matter what your mental image is, it is crucial to discuss your expectations with your partner. Premarital counseling can provide a neutral and non-judgemental space to discuss these expectations with your partner.
Chances are, your partner has some very specific expectations of their own. Talking about these ideas and setting expectations for your relationship together can be a great way to learn more about your partner and work to avoid some fundamental arguments in the future.
Learning Communication Skills
You’re going to have arguments with your spouse. We’re sorry; unfortunately, no one is perfect, and no relationship is without its share of disagreement. Also, no one is going to share your exact same view of life and the expectations of marriage. But, if you have developed the healthy and productive communication skills you need to navigate these issues together as a team, you’ll be much better prepared for these inevitable challenges in your future.
While there are many ways to learn these communication skills — such as through practice and experience — premarital counseling is an incredibly useful resource to help you and your partner pick up these skills early on in your relationship.
Building Good Habits and Behaviors
Premarital counseling is also an excellent way to build healthy habits and behaviors that can make your married life much smoother. Whether it is building the good communication skills mentioned above, making decisions together or developing quick and reliable conflict-resolution skills, premarital counseling can help you and your partner develop the tools you need to succeed in your marriage.
How to Find a Good Counselor
As promised, here are some tips to help you find a good counselor for you and your partner. In an ideal world, any counselor can provide you with the support and guidance you need for your premarital counseling sessions. But, unfortunately, not everyone works the same way, and while one counselor may work excellently for one of your friends, they may not work well for you.
Because of this, you must spend some time determining (with your partner, of course) who the right counselor is for you. So, without further ado, here are some tips for finding a great counselor.
Do Some Research
Just like you would for any other professional consultation, do your research. Look for therapists or counselors in your area (or online if you prefer that delivery method) that provide premarital counseling. Find out which clinics or professionals are covered by your insurance or are within your budget.
Look for credentials and experience in premarital counseling. If a therapist is unwilling to provide this information, you may want to look elsewhere. If you want the best experience, look for someone with experience with premarital counseling — especially if you are new to therapy or counseling.
Determine Your Goals
Once you’ve done your research, you’ll want to decide with your partner what you want to get out of your counseling sessions. This list will vary from couple to couple, but the idea is to get on the same page with your partner and ensure that you both get what you want from the sessions.
Follow Your Instincts
As humans, we have incredible instincts. If you aren’t feeling comfortable with a counselor after a session or two, it is okay to find a new one. Not everyone responds well to certain practices, methods of communication, or even other people. This is okay. Simply discuss any reservations with your partner and, if you are comfortable, with your counselor as well, and you can find another professional to work with.
Our final tip is to do consultations before committing to a premarital counselor. Maybe you aren’t sure whether or not you will get along with a certain counselor. Maybe you are unsure if online or in-person counseling is better for you and your partner. Shop around! You do not have to commit to working with a counselor right from the start — as we talked about earlier, not every therapist is a good fit for everyone.