Premarital counseling sets a marriage up for success – and a successful marriage is a gift that will last a lifetime.
At first glance, premarital counseling may seem to be a cynical choice for a wedding gift. We enter into marriage believing that it will be happily ever after, and a gift that gives even the slightest hint that this might not be the case might be frowned upon.
Couples Who Undergo Premarital Counseling Have a Higher Marital Success Rate
However, anyone who has been married knows that happily ever after doesn’t come without work, and the earlier you can get that work done, the higher the likelihood of success. Couples who undergo premarital counseling prior to marriage have a 30% higher marital success rate than those who do not. It is important to note that this is only correlational data; we can’t say definitively that this success is due to premarital counseling. However, given the potential upside, why not use it as a tool to set the marriage up for success?
Counseling Before Marriage Allows for a Cleaner Slate
Many couples forego premarital counseling with the thought that if they need it, they can seek counseling after getting married. However, post-marriage couples counseling can look far different than premarital counseling. On average, most married couples wait six years before going to a couples therapist. By that time, there is usually a lot of hurt, anger, and entrenched patterns. It can be difficult to fix things at that point – which you’ll know if you tried couples counseling in a failed attempt to save your previous marriage. When couples go to counseling before marriage, the slate is cleaner than if they wait until their marriage is in trouble. Communication and behavior patterns are not as entrenched and there is usually more goodwill and kindness in the relationship. Premarital counseling sets a marriage up for success – a gift that will last a lifetime.
Counseling Provides a Safe Place to Explore Issues Openly
Everyone enters into marriage with their own history of relationships and the model provided by their family of origin. Most people have things they want to hold onto and things they want to do differently from their parents’ relationship. Premarital counseling can be a safe place to explore those issues consciously instead of waiting for them to blow up.
Premarital counseling also covers potential areas of conflict that couples might miss. How do we handle daily responsibilities and chores around the house? What are our expectations about money? Do we want children? It is much easier when those issues are discussed proactively as opposed to when their have already blown up. Counseling before marriage can help bring these issues to the surface so that they can be worked out early. It can also help couples learn how to talk about complicated issues, which will help them cope more effectively when they inevitably arise in the future.
Many of the issues that come up between couples cannot be “solved”. So the goal is often to make the communication around those issues more effective and productive. All couples are going to disagree and have conflict. Fighting fair and learning to understand where your partner is coming from are incredibly helpful skills in a marriage.
Premarital Counseling Provides a Good Foundation and Tools for Communication
No one enters marriage fully prepared; it’s like parenting, you can’t fully know it until you are in it. Counseling provides you with a good foundation and tools for communication to start you on a healthy path. It also can set a precedent that if we have struggles or fights that seem overwhelming, we can go back into couples therapy. Many couples use couples therapy episodically to get through tough times or big transitions. It doesn’t have to be a crisis before you enter therapy, it can also be for insight and quality of life issues.
Consider how much money is spent on weddings these days. The cost of premarital counseling is a tiny fraction of that, and yet it could lay the foundation for an entire lifetime of happy marriage. Now that’s a great wedding gift!