If you have recently become engaged or are in the midst of wedding planning, you may feeling the stress of committing to a permanent marriage relationship. Pre-marriage counseling helps both you and your fiancée understand one another, plan a future together, and respond to any detours you might experience along the way.

What is Pre-Marriage Counseling

Pre-marriage counseling is a short-term therapy option for couples considering or planning for marriage. Unlike traditional couples therapy, which tends to focus on problems in the relationship, pre-marriage counseling (also called premarital counseling) focuses on how to make things go right. It is a proactive coaching method that gives partners a safe space to discuss difficult issues and learn strategies to resolve disputes when they happen. One study found that approximately 44% of couples participate in premarital counseling before getting married. Those who do have a 30% higher marital success rate than couples who don’t.  Here’s how pre-marriage counseling can help.

Unpack Family “Baggage” Before Setting Off on Your New Journey

No one comes into a marriage without a little baggage. You may have had one or more serious relationship fall apart before finding each other, leaving you with bitterness or learned behavior patterns. You may have learned less-than-healthy family models from your parents. Even high school sweethearts bring different backgrounds and family experiences into their marriage. All of that can affect your approach to a new relationship.

Whether it is as simple as different holiday traditions, or as serious as childhood trauma, pre-marriage counseling can help couples discuss their pasts, understand what parts of those histories they carry with them into their current relationships, and make conscious decisions about their new family’s dynamic.  This can include:

  • Making space for blended families
  • Addressing cycles of abuse
  • Acknowledging family myths and expectations
  • Honoring each other’s traditions and family commitments

Pre-Marital Counseling Helps You Learn Better Communication Skills to Set a Clear Path

Everyone has their own communication style. You might shut down when your angry or overshare when you get excited. You may try to explain your way out of conflict or place strong emphasis on non-verbal cues. Pre-marriage counseling helps partners learn each other’s communication style, and develops new skills to actively listen to and understand one another.

Using these skills, a marriage counselor can guide you and your partner through difficult conversations about your shared expectations for your marriage. This could include:

  • Family planning and child raising
  • Career plans
  • Financial management and budgeting
  • Intimacy, sex, and affection
  • Religious beliefs and practices
  • Dietary preferences and restrictions
  • Household chores and maintenance

Addressing these questions within the safe space of the therapist’s office can help you plot a clear course for your marriage and avoid unexpected surprises after the wedding day.

Develop Conflict Resolution Strategies for Future Marital Difficulties

Every marriage has conflict, but that doesn’t have to spell the end of your relationship. When communication does eventually break down, you and your spouse will need tools to help resolve the dispute without developing resentment or distrust of one another. Pre-marriage counseling helps soon-to-be spouses develop these skills, respond to the emotions that arise with conflict, and recognize their role in resolving the conflict at hand. This may be done through modeling, role-playing potential conflicts, or addressing issues that come up while setting family expectations.

Get Pre-Marriage Counseling Help from an Experienced Couples’ Counselor

You don’t have to wait for there to be something “wrong” with your relationship to make it stronger. The months leading up to your wedding can be stressful. Having a pre-marriage counselor on your team to help you unpack your history, set expectations, and resolve the tension increases the chances of staying together “until death do you part.”

David Stanislaw is a psychotherapist with over 30 years of experience. He helps individuals and couples learn strategies for anger management and conflict resolution within their relationships. Contact David Stanislaw to get help today.