When Steven and I got engaged (almost four years ago-what?!) we didn’t even second guess doing premarital counseling. But, now that we have done it, I can definitely say that I know that premarital counseling is 100% a must for engaged couples. If you’re on the fence about it, I hope these reasons will help convince you of how important premarital counseling is.
Our counseling program was recommended through our church and pastor. Our church doesn’t do counseling specifically but partnered with a local counseling program. We were able to meet with a couple who both were pastors, which made us feel very comfortable. It was such a great experience to be able to work with a couple because we were able to each relate to someone of the same sex. The program we did is called Prepare/Enrich and I highly recommend it.
If you’ve been dating a month or ten years, premarital counseling is extremely helpful for setting your marriage up for success. I’ll be honest, Steven and I didn’t think we needed counseling. We did it out of feeling like we should, but we are so thankful that we did. Here are a few reasons that premarital counseling is an absolute must while you’re planning a wedding.
One of the best parts of our counseling was being able to take an assessment before and after our counseling. The assessment tested different aspects of our relationship like communication, spiritual compatibility and family values. Having a way of “measuring” the progress we made in those areas was so cool to see.
There are a lot of topics that you might not think to discuss before getting married. I’ve talked about how our counselors specifically talked about guarding your marriage. Other difficult conversations we had in counseling were about family and our expectations for household roles, effects of past relationships, expectations for sex within marriage, etc. Not all of those would have been conversations we would have willingly had if we were not in counseling.
A Safe Place for Discussion
Because of those tough discussions, having a mediator to help us each process things was vital. Having counselors to mediate conversation, help gently nudge us to continue talking through tough conversations. Also having others semi-involved in a conversation can help to keep everyone level headed.
Mandatory Date Nights
This was by far our favorite part of counseling! We had homework after counseling and we always went on dates to do our homework and talk about counseling after every session. Then we had fun date nights that were a part of our homework. In a crazy season of engagement and wedding planning having mandated date nights was a godsend!
Learning to Communicate
Steven and I were in a long distance before getting married, so I have always said that we were good communicators. However going through counseling made us even better communicators. One of the things that was extremely helpful was learning how to communicate without blaming the other person whether it was intentional or not. Being able to communicate in that way has definitely helped us to stay calm during discussions.
I want to also mention that even if you’re already married, going through a newlywed or engagement type of counseling is a great idea! To me, if there’s something you can do to try to lessen the chances of a tough marriage, I don’t see the reason not to!
If you are engaged, I’d love to hear your thoughts on premarital counseling. Are you planning to do counseling? If you’ve done counseling, how did it benefit your marriage?