What is Premarital Counseling? Who benefits from it? Is it still worth the effort if everything is going great with your beloved? Doesn’t going to therapy mean that there is a problem in your relationship?
Premarital Counseling can take many shapes, be performed by a variety of mental health practitioners, and can vary in theory and number of sessions. The long and short of it, is that Premarital Counseling is often customized for the specific couple seeking therapy and the focus of your time is based on the goals of you and your partner.
Therapists may help clients identify and negotiate expectations they have about married life, including what roles each partner may be expected to perform, parenthood, in-laws, sexuality, and religion/spirituality. Clients may also use their time in Premarital Counseling to work on areas including communication, conflict resolution, and commitment. Sometimes we experience blind spots with those we are close to, and Premarital Counseling can help bring these topics to light.
A 2003 meta-analysis performed by Carroll and Doherty suggests that couples who attend Premarital Counseling saw demonstrable improvements in their relationship, to the extent that they were better equipped for marriage than 79% of couples that did not receive Premarital Counseling. Carlson and colleagues (2012) found that men who participated in Premarital Counseling showed marked improvements in their relationship satisfaction, as well as experiencing a dramatic decrease in individual distress. Women who participated in Premarital Counseling showed a similar increase in relationship satisfaction (Carlson, Daire, Munyon, & Young, 2012).
Going to Premarital Counseling does not mean your relationship is broken. What going to Premarital Counseling communicates to your therapist, to your partner, and to the world, is that you care about the life-long commitment you are about to embark on. It communicates that you want a deeper, more meaningful relationship with your partner and are willing to put in the time and effort to get there together. Any happily married person will tell you that some days are easier than others, but wouldn’t it be great if you could see those cloudy days on the horizon, be able to lessen the impact when a storm does invariably arrive, and have the tools to weather those days as a team?
This article was written by Savanah Kite, intern at Building Blocks Family Counseling.
For more information on premarital counseling please call at 912-349-8043 or email us at [email protected]
Carlson, R. G., Daire, A. P., Munyon, M. D., & Young, M. E. (2012). A comparison of
cohabiting and noncohabiting couples who participated in premarital counseling
using the prepare model. The Family Journal, 20(2), 123-130. doi: 10.1177/1066480712441588
Carroll J. S., & Doherty W. J. (2003). Evaluating the effectiveness of premarital prevention programs: A meta-analytic review of outcome research. Family Relations, 52, 105–118.