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By Katie Bailey, MA, LPC

Congratulations, you’re engaged! It’s a very exciting time, for sure. You likely have a long to do list: save the date cards, dress fittings, flowers, music, locations…it goes on and on. You might be missing the most important thing on your wedding planning list: premarital counseling.

Many people think of premarital counseling as a silly requirement by a church that you just get through so you can get married in their building. Some people think their relationship is just fine, and there’s no need for premarital counseling. Still others don’t see any value in investing time and money in premarital counseling.

Your wedding is a very special day indeed. Yet, it is just that: one day. One day of your entire life. And while it is special, after the birdseed is thrown, the first dance is danced, and the honeymoon trip is over – you come back to real life. Real married life. Which, even if you were living together, is still different. Going through premarital counseling helps set you up for success. You will learn invaluable skills to keep in your relational “tool box” to help you when you hit bumps in the road – and you WILL hit bumps! If you don’t think challenges will ever come, you need premarital counseling even more!

Couples who participate in premarital counseling have a 30% higher marital success rate than couples who did not. The average amount of time couples spend in counseling is 8 hours. Isn’t 8 hours of your time worth increasing your success rate by 30%? I think so!

3 Ways Premarital Counseling Prepares You for Marriage

1. Helps You Practice Positive Communication (When You’re Not Already Fighting)

At Lime Tree Counseling, our experienced therapists provide both marriage therapy and premarital counseling. The number one skill we work on with all couples is communication. Learning not just how to communicate, but the deeper level WHY you feel you need to say what you need to say is a priceless skill for strengthening your connection.

For example, Joe and Sarah are married, and Joe was recently laid off from his job. Sarah is angry that Joe won’t talk to her about the job loss or a financial plan for moving forward. In her frustration, she keeps asking Joe questions, over and over, trying to get him to discuss the situation with her. Joe finally erupts and yells at Sarah to “just shut up already” and leaves the house. Both partners are alone, angry and hurting.

If Sarah and Joe had worked on learning how and why they communicate the way they do, their situation could’ve looked more like this. Joe has lost his job. Sarah tells him she knows he must be disappointed, and that she is feeling nervous about their financial future. She asks Joe to tell her when he is ready to talk. Awhile later, Joe goes to Sarah and says he feels like a failure, because he has let her down. Sarah feels appreciated and valued because Joe came to talk to her. She in turn, reassures Joe that she does not see him as a failure, she loves him, and together they work out a practical plan to move forward.

In this scenario, both partners were able to acknowledge how they felt and share those scary feelings honestly with their partner. The result was both partners feeling soothed by the other – Sarah’s anxiety was eased by Joe talking to her, Joe didn’t feel pressure with constant questions and was able to say he felt like a failure, and Sarah was able to reassure him she loves him, he’s not a failure. Sarah and Joe offer a simplified view of the skills you can learn in premarital counseling to improve communication and your connection with one another.

2. Allows You to Discover Relational “Blind Spots”

No matter how prepared you think you are for marriage, there are always those “blind spots” – areas you haven’t given much thought. A quality assessment tool, we use PREPARE/ENRICH, helps your counselor identify topics you and your fiancé have high levels of disagreement. Often times, these are issues you haven’t ever considered. How will you share time between both families? Will you have one bank account? Will you have children? Will you raise your children a particular faith? Premarital counseling can bring to light areas you have missed.

3. Ensures You Both Have Realistic Expectations

Many couples think marriage will be just fine, and they won’t encounter many challenges. Premarital counseling can also help you gauge if your expectations of married life are realistic or not. Do you and your partner have the same ideas on what roles you will each have? What will happen when hard times do come? How will you face those challenges together? Discussing these issues before they actually happen makes you better prepared for when the hard times do come. And I promise you, challenges will come.

Start Premarital Counseling in Montgomery County, PA

If you and your fiancé are ready to set yourselves up for marital success, please contact us today for a free 15-minute phone consultation, or to schedule your first session. Our counselors specialize in premarital counseling, and we want to help you prepare for all the days following your wedding!