- What do you do in premarital counseling?
- How much does premarital counseling cost?
- What is involved in a premarital counseling session?
- Who does premarital counseling – religious or non religous people?
While I am just like you – a normal person who got married and wondered the same things, here is what I’ve been learning.
Premarital counseling is done by 44% of all engaged couples. Catholics require it so that is about 37% of all engaged couples. The rest are couples who are strongly encouraged by their church, officiant, or friends to get premarital counseling, or couples like my husband and me who felt it was something we should do. A good portion are also into their second marriages and see the value of not ignoring their relationship strengths and weaknesses.
I think of premarital counseling like getting a car or a house – you’d do some preparation and research before jumping in to an important decision. Premarital counseling can give you the preparation and research on WHAT IT TAKES TO HAVE A GOOD MARRIAGE! It is honestly not very personal, often, because it’s done in group formats, or it’s more about educating you on what we know about relationships.
Many of us cringe at the idea of taking a marriage compatibility test. What if we “fail?” We already feel we know what we need to work on and just don’t want to address it again if we don’t have to! But I can tell you, having a third party premarital inventory, or marriage counselor, draw out some areas of growth opportunity can be a good thing. It can basically put on the table things you already know and instead of those things sitting in your head, they are released. Those things can then be talked about separate from your own ego or self esteem. They can be talked about as, “hey, everyone has stuff! This is your stuff and this is how others with the same stuff have worked through it.”
Premarital counseling can then be a wide variety of options because it’s under the umbrella of marriage education. Lay leaders, groups, individual mentoring, therapy. Our website offers many options and frankly our book, Take Back Your Wedding: Managing the People Stress of Wedding Planning is absolutely the most powerful premarital, and marital work I’ve experienced in my own four years of marriage. It talks about the wedding in a way that gets you thinking about your relationship.
So because it varies the costs vary wildly. The more individual the more expensive. Sometimes marriage counselors have a set agenda on what they cover with engaged couples and sometimes they don’t. Some couples find it’s not so much premarital counseling as actual couples counseling they need. Some couples have real issues that go beyond basic skill building and require therapy. This is a wonderful time, while engaged, to start working on building your relationship as you plan for your wedding. Couples can find they get much closer, emotionally, to their partners through therapy and why not do the work before the big wedding ceremony!
I will continue to talk about premarital counseling and all that is involved. But for now I need a nap!
Happy wedding planning,