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Why Pre-Marital Counseling?

About 2.6 million couples will marry in the U.S. this year. About 45% of those couples will participate in pre-marriage counseling. Seems like a good idea. Some research suggests that couples who seek counseling before their wedding report a 30% higher marital success rate than those who did not.

There are, of course, other factors that play into marital success. And pre-marriage counseling certainly isn’t a silver bullet. (Notably, less than 1% of couples that are considering re-marriage pursue pre-wedding therapy.) If, however, you’re considering therapy in advance of your wedding, it’s worth exploring the question of why. Here are a few reasons (from least to most important) you might consider pre-marital counseling:

Take Care of Wedding Prep – If counseling is just one of the boxes to check off on your list, then skip it. Or call it what it is, Wedding Prep. Many couples meet with their therapist or pastor to discuss the wedding with little thought of the marriage. Good marriage preparation will go far beyond the details of your checklist.

To Articulate Expectations – There is a lot of wisdom to exposing and talking through your expectations about money, sex, in-laws, chores, work/life balance, friends, etc…. You should do some brainstorming about where you’re likely to run into some trouble. More importantly, you should be really clear about your non-negotiables. If he definitely wants children and she definitely doesn’t, it’s pretty important to get that on the table. With regard to your overall expectations, however, best to hold them with an open hand. Marriage itself will shake up your preconceived expectations and require you to be flexible. Which leads to the next purpose for counseling.

To Explore your Vows – When people get married, they do so for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer. These are more than just words. They’re promises. And they’re complicated. Pre-marital counseling can give you a forum to discuss the complexities of knitting your whole life to another person. Do you really understand the weight of what you are committing to? Probably not. But having a forum to courageously and compassionately ask questions can be invaluable to your marriage prep.

It’s clear that pre-marital counseling cannot hurt your wedding preparation. Just make sure it’s part of your marriage prep as well.

Need help articulating expectations and exploring vows? We can help, learn more about our new Pre-Marital Program.

 

 

Zach Brittle, LMHC, is a counselor, author, and blogger in Seattle, WA where he lives with his wife and two daughters. He is a Certified Gottman Therapist and best-selling author of The Relationship Alphabet. Follow him on Facebook at Zach Brittle, LMHC or on Twitter @kzbrittle.

 

 

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