Mating for Life: The Value of Premarital Counseling

6 minutes Written by Megan Cornish

A loving and solid romantic relationship can be a go-to source of comfort, motivation, and inspiration. But, as with all the good stuff in life, healthy relationships often need a little elbow grease and groundwork.

That’s why seeking therapy—like premarital counseling—is a smart move for all couples, even when their relationship is going well. Working together with a therapist can help couples strengthen their bond even more.

In fact, research shows that couples who give premarital counseling a shot have a better chance of sticking together than those who don’t. In premarital counseling, you lay the groundwork for your life together as a couple, so that you can enjoy a rock-solid relationship for a lifetime.

Table of Contents

What is Premarital Counseling?
Questions to Expect During Premarital Counseling Sessions
The Role of the Therapist: Your Relationship Cheerleader and Guide
Choosing the Right Premarital Counselor

What is Premarital Counseling?

Premarital counseling, sometimes called premarital therapy, is a specialized type of therapy appropriate for couples who are planning to get married or are in a committed long-term partnership. It’s all about tackling potential issues, boosting effective communication, and getting you both ready for the challenges that married life may bring. Unlike couples counseling, which reactively deals with relationship problems as they come up, premarital therapy is focused on proactively stopping issues before they even start, helping you create a successful and lasting bond.

The Many Benefits of Premarital Counseling

Premarital counseling is a valuable resource for couples who want to be in it for the long-haul. It’s perfect for anyone in a serious relationship, not just those who are engaged or married. Advantages include:

Building a Solid Foundation for “Forever”

In premarital counseling, you’ll discuss important topics, explore your values and beliefs, and develop strong communication skills. Research has shown that couples who complete premarital counseling are 30% more likely to have a happy, successful marriage, and are 31% less likely to divorce (Carroll & Doherty, 2003.)

Enhancing Communication Skills

One of the key aspects of premarital counseling is improving communication skills. This involves learning to initiate tough conversations, express thoughts and feelings in healthy ways, listen to one another, and resolve conflicts effectively.

Addressing Potential Relationship Challenges

Premarital counseling covers various topics that can impact a relationship, such as:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Financial management
  • Family planning and parenting
  • Career goals and work-life balance
  • Intimacy and sexual expectations

By exploring these topics prior to a long-term commitment, you can identify potential challenges and work together to come up with solutions that will actually work.

Questions to Expect During Premarital Counseling Sessions

A big part of premarital counseling is just getting on the same page as your partner. During premarital counseling sessions, you can expect to answer questions that help you explore your relationship and understand your partner’s perspective. Some common questions include:

  • What are your expectations for marriage?
  • How do you envision handling finances?
  • How should we handle holidays?
  • What are your career goals, and how do you expect us to prioritize them?
  • What are your beliefs and values regarding parenting?
  • How will we set boundaries with extended family?
  • What should our division of household labor look like?

These questions encourage open communication and help couples to understand one another better.

The Role of the Therapist: Your Relationship Cheerleader and Guide

During premarital counseling sessions, your therapist will play a significant role in helping you and your partner communicate with each other. Acting as both a cheerleader and a guide, your therapist will create a comfortable, supportive environment where you can explore your thoughts, feelings, and concerns.

The job of your therapist is to foster deep, healthy, relationship-strengthening communication. Their expertise will help you navigate relationship challenges while teaching valuable skills like effective communication and conflict resolution. Throughout the process, your therapist will be your relationship’s biggest cheerleader, celebrating successes and offering compassionate support when challenges arise. They won’t take sides—instead, they’ll help both you and your partner develop a better understanding of each other’s perspectives and feelings, working together to find solutions that strengthen the relationship and pave the way for a loving, lasting bond.

Choosing the Right Premarital Counselor

When choosing a premarital therapist, it’s essential for both partners to feel a sense of comfort and connection with the professional they’re working with. After all, you’ll be sharing personal thoughts and feelings, and discussing sensitive topics that require openness and trust.

Here are a few other traits you should consider when looking for a therapist:

  • Professional Credentials and Experience

Look for a therapist with proper credentials, like a license in marriage and family therapy, psychology, social work, or counseling. 

  • Specialization in Premarital Counseling or Relationship Issues

Find a therapist specializing in premarital counseling or relationship issues. They’ll have a deeper understanding of what you need to build a strong foundation for your relationship.

  • Good Communication and Listening Skills

Your therapist should be a great listener, ask insightful questions, and communicate clearly and empathetically. 

  • A Non-Judgmental and Empathetic Approach

Choose a therapist who’s empathetic and non-judgmental. They should respect your values, beliefs, and perspectives, even if they’re different from their own.

  • A Focus on Building Skills and Promoting Growth

Pick a therapist who’s dedicated to helping you build skills to face the challenges of married life. They should focus on fostering growth and development in your relationship, rather than just addressing existing issues.

As you plan for your future together, premarital counseling is a valuable investment in your relationship and overall happiness. The experience offers a great opportunity for couples, whether engaged or not, to grow and learn together. By encouraging open communication, addressing potential challenges, and cultivating essential relationship skills, you’re building a strong foundation for lasting success.

Taking a proactive step towards nurturing your relationship is always worthwhile. Use Mental Health Match’s search tool to find a therapist who aligns well with you and your partner’s needs. By scheduling an initial call with a premarital counselor, you’ll be taking the first step towards fostering a resilient and fulfilling lifelong partnership.

Carroll, J.S. and Doherty, W.J. (2003), Evaluating the Effectiveness of Premarital Prevention Programs: A Meta-Analytic Review of Outcome Research. Family Relations, 52: 105-118.

Avatar Megan Cornish

Written by Megan Cornish

Megan Cornish is a licensed clinical social worker and founder of Megan Cornish Marketing. She works with mental health companies on content and copy, making sure everything is engaging and clinically sound.