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Many couples wish to remain in their long-term relationship, with many having the desire to turn the relationship into a healthy marriage. However, at times there are bumps in the road that have them questioning if it is possible to have a healthy relationship, let alone a marriage.
Having such occurrences come up does not mean that the commitment and relationship have to end, nor the dreams of a healthy marriage. Many couples have had great success in their relationship after seeking out premarital counseling, also referred to as pre-marriage counseling, for issues that have come up during their time together.
Finding a licensed therapist specializing in premarital counseling that can help couples navigate ironing out any relationship issues plaguing them can be a godsend for many. Not only can a therapist help to come up with solutions for current problems, but they can also help to plan for marriage expectations for the future.
What is Premarital Counseling?
Many people use the terms couples therapy and premarital counseling interchangeably. Although there are many similarities, premarital therapy, or marriage counseling as it can be referred to, is designated for couples planning a future together but who have not yet married.
At times they may be engaged, but in many situations, they have just been in a committed relationship for a long duration and hope for it to become more in the near future.
Couples counseling can also be for those in long-term relationships or even marriage. However, any couple can utilize this service, and marriage doesn't have to be a part of the equation. A couples therapist will work to help the relationship through any issues they find themselves facing. The goal of this type of therapy is to keep the couple intact with a solid foundation.
In contrast, a marriage counselor will also work to keep a couple intact but will also help set realistic expectations for the future of the relationship and the hopeful marriage status that follows.
A successful marriage and a happily married couple are the goals for premarital counseling services. However, a stronger marriage, optimal mental health, refined conflict resolution skills, as well as a happy marriage are the focus of couples counseling. Both options are similar but have slight variations.
It is important to note that both forms of therapy can also include one or more individual sessions. This plan of action helps to get both sides to a situation, especially as it pertains to conflict, and individually evaluate the mental health of each participant. Therefore, if your counselor suggests individual sessions, know that it is par for the course and not a sign of impending doom.
Marriage Counseling and Religion
At times, when engaged couples are moving towards marriage, their religious institution requires them to participate in some form of premarital counseling. This opportunity also allows the couple to ask any questions regarding their relationship and their religion.
At times this is done with a premarital counselor or a couples counselor. Depending on the church, the priest or pastor will administer the sessions.
Christian premarital counseling is specific to that particular faith. Within some areas of the religion, there are strict rules regarding premarital couples. Some of the more obvious topics you can cover within a premarital counseling session include intimacy and your living situation. However, subjects can also incorporate conflict resolution and communication skill building.
One of the issues that can come up for some couples and their faith leader pertains to handholding. Some view hand-holding as a sin if it takes place before marriage. For some religious practices, this is a misconception.
However, there are variations among the different institutions that say otherwise. Therefore, premarital therapy provides an excellent opportunity to clear up the urgent inquiries a couple may have before marriage is planned or occurs.
What Will Be Discussed in Premarital Counseling?
When you begin premarital counseling, you will discuss many things during your first session. However, do not expect that you will sort out any issues in your initial visit. Although conversations will take place, several sessions will occur before measurable progress is made in a quality way.
Throughout a series of appointments, the following Gottman Method principles will be addressed and discussed between a couple and their administrator, pastor, or licensed therapist:
- Listening to your partner
- Communicating your feelings
- Building a love map
- Express empathy for your significant other
- Practicing active listening
- Develop rituals for connection
- Discussing problems or issues that arise
Additionally, during your time within the sessions, you will take the time to talk about the other relationships in your life. At times there can be extenuating circumstances and situations that play out in your current relationship with your significant other.
More often than not, you won’t realize this until something brings it to your attention. When it comes out through conversation, you will usually be able to understand further what drives certain behaviors of yours in different aspects of life.
As with any engaged couple, or relationship in general, there are differences between them. Each person comes with their own set of unique characteristics and personalities. Additionally, the communication methods that each person prefers can be vastly different.
These things can sometimes bring up arguments inadvertently due to differences in mannerisms. Although it may seem a simple fix to get on the same page, it can be pretty frustrating.
One of the benefits of a regular therapy session is that you can address these issues as they come up. Not only are you able to problem solve in real-time, but you can also use the coping mechanisms and skills that you learn in future disagreements.
What Are the Benefits of Premarital Counseling?
Premarital counseling comes with a plethora of benefits. Outside of fulfilling any religious obligations that are needed before the wedding, there are advantages for the relationship as a whole, the engagement period, and throughout your future as a couple:
- Better communication techniques to use in your interactions
- A deeper understanding of your partner, their behaviors, and their mannerisms
- Problem-solving methods to use during daily interplays and in times of conflict
- Stronger active listening skills to take in your partner’s thoughts without interjection
- Mutual goals, dreams, and aspirations to move towards as a couple
All of this learning will take place both inside and outside of the therapy sessions. Many insurance companies cover the cost of counseling, pre-marital included. Additionally, you can now have access to therapy in many different forms.
- In-person (in-home or in an office setting)
- Tele-therapy (over the phone)
- Virtual (online with video)
- Text (by phone or computer)
The cost of the different types of counseling services will depend on your insurance coverage and provider. Some therapists offer a discount for those who do not have medical coverage and are paying in cash. Additionally, online premarital counseling can sometimes be lower in cost due to not having transportation costs factored into the price and the extra expenditure that comes with having an in-person office.
At times the first premarital session with a counselor is higher in cost due to the longer duration and the mental health overview, which is common in family therapy. This extra cost is typical and should be expected, as it is the first time the counselor is meeting with you, and it is necessary to get a baseline on the issues you are facing in life and as a couple.
In the end, the result of a lasting marriage is well worth whatever cost is associated with it. Taking the time with your future spouse to start on marital therapy and solidify some conflict resolution strategies will benefit your married life for years to come. That outcome is worth its weight in gold.
Those in a long-term relationship who find themselves arguing more or having conflict frequently - don't stop the wedding planning. Taking the time to find a good source of marriage counseling can go a long way in any relationship.
To get the most significant impact out of your time, you need to remember that the more you put into your sessions, both joint and individual, the more you will get out.
If you go into your appointment with the expectation of just getting through it and checking it off as completed, you aren’t going to benefit as powerfully as if you went in with an open mind and heart.
As humans, we are constantly learning. We are not only learning about ourselves, but also each other. Every individual is unique in their own way, with different personalities and characteristics.
One of the strongest bonds we will form is the ones that we share with our spouse. Therefore, it is vital to lay a solid foundation for the future you will share ahead. Learning about the best ways to handle conflicts that we face as a couple and how to have a healthy marriage is essential. Premarital counseling is critical to accomplishing that.
For more information about premarital counseling, reach out to us!