As we continue to decrease the stigma surrounding therapy and counseling, premarital counseling may be becoming more of a norm for couples. You may have heard from family, friends, your places of worship (church, synagogue, mosque), or via articles online about all of the things you could talk about with a partner before getting married, including finances, children, and more. Sometimes, couples need the extra support through counseling to explore and discuss what is important to them as they move towards the next stage within their relationship. Premarital counseling can cover a range of topics: communication, conflict resolution, personal stressors, financial management, relationship roles, sex and affection, spiritual beliefs, marriage expectations, parenting expectations, cultural differences, and differences in personalities and personal goals. Of course all of this can be covered in marital counseling, however there are benefits to discussing this as you are preparing to get married. I want to highlight here why it can be so crucial.
You may be talking about concerns, struggles, or issues you never have before or never had the chance to discuss. It can feel overwhelming and a lot to manage once you have made the decision to move in with a partner, get engaged, and/or are currently wedding planning. In making transitions from singlehood to marriage, there may not be dedicated time and space for couples to explore all of the emotions and thoughts that are coming up for them – this is that space to do so!
You gain a new space to verbalize what your needs are and what is important to you. For example, your partner’s priority may be to pay off all of their credit card debt first, while your priority may be to save money to buy a home. It may be a priority for the both of you to buy a home first before planning to have children. Through premarital counseling, you are each able to share why your goals are important to you and towards strengthening your relationship.
You want to learn how to be different from your family. When discussing communication, sexual expectations, and marriage expectations, couples who I’ve worked with have often shared that their parents either did not talk about or did not model for them how to talk about these issues with one’s partner. Through counseling, couples get the opportunity to reflect on what messages they’ve received about affection, sexuality, and marriage within their childhood, through family or other parts of their lives. They can also explore and make decisions as to what messages they want to hold onto and what they want to let go of.
You can improve upon current habits or learn new strategies. This is especially important with conflict resolution - perhaps, a couple may be noticing patterns within their conflicts and want to better understand this cycle before getting married and/or want to learn how to better manage their emotions during conflicts. Additionally, a new way of doing certain things can help couples identify what their roles are within their relationship and within the household - who is responsible for what? Premarital counseling offers the opportunity to ask questions and brainstorm with your therapist what changes can be helpful for your relationship.
Differences and similarities are normalized and accepted in premarital counseling. Your personal stressors may differ from your partner’s, however they can be equally important to alleviate. For interracial and interfaith couples, exploring how your beliefs play a role within your relationship can be insightful towards what you want your marriage to look like. This is also a productive space to explore whether there will be children in the future – one partner may not want children, while another does or both partners may want children or both partners may not. The therapeutic space can be a helpful one to determine whether there is a middle ground between your differences.
For couples who are polyamorous or in any version of an open relationship, premarital counseling can be the space to share what this will look like when they are married. Will the expectations and boundaries you’ve set within your relationship remain the same? Or will the expectations be completely different for one another? Do we have expectations around how our relationship will change over time or as our relationship evolves through different life stages? All of this can be explored with a counselor to determine how each partner envisions their life together.
Through premarital counseling, couples have learned to better understand their own wants and needs alongside their partner’s. While the goal may be to become a harmonious couple, the journey to get there can often feel stressful. At the same time, it can feel refreshing to see which areas you and your partner align in and motivating to explore the areas where there are some misalignments. Premarital counseling can affirm the love and excitement partners feel for the future together and confidence in the tools/resources they will gain.
Feel like premarital counseling is the right fit for you and your fiance (Or fiance-to-be)? All AisleTalk therapists are certified in the Prepare/Enrich model of premarital counseling. Prepare/Enrich, the leading model in premarital counseling, talks about this form of therapy as an investment towards your relationship. Book a call with us today to learn more about how we incorporate this model with the couples we work with!