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Young Couple Speaking With a CounselorPremarital counseling is a standard recommendation for many couples wishing to tie the knot. While it was mandatory in many Christian traditions, America’s shifting religious makeup plus changing priorities have caused some to forgo the practice. Yet even couples who don’t wish to involve religion into their marriages can benefit from counseling. Understanding your needs and options is vital in navigating the landscape and choosing the approach that best works for you.

What Is Premarital Counseling?

The Mayo Clinic offers a basic overview of premarital counseling. Simply put, it’s intended to help couples prepare for marriage. While it’s typically been offered by clergy or lay religious members, the Mayo Clinic mentions that licensed therapists also provide this service. These therapists have advanced degrees, and many obtain their credentials through the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Depending on the sect or training program, clergy members may also be instructed in counseling and therapy methods. The Universal Life Church is just one example, providing helpful guidelines for ministers who wish to offer counseling. At the same time, some clergy possess both religious and secular education and may be licensed by state authorities and professional organizations.

A Whole Host of Excellent Advantages

While it’s easy to underestimate the impact of premarital counseling, many couples find it helpful for a wide range of reasons. Wedding Wire’s Jenn Sinrich discusses its benefits in detail:

  • You and your spouse can get to know each other in better and deeper ways.
  • Your sessions are opportunities for learning communication and problem resolution skills.
  • Counseling can allow you to gain greater insight into how you handle emotions and potentially discover healthier ways to process and act on your feelings.
  • You benefit from extra space in which you can explore and set realistic expectations as well as learn about each other’s personality differences.
  • Counseling can let you collaborate and create sensible approaches to handling your finances as a couple.

In these ways, you can iron out issues and prevent them from causing schisms in your relationship.

What To Expect at Your Counseling Sessions

Brides writer Léa Rose Emery gives a basic rundown of what you may encounter during premarital counseling. Emery remarks that no topics will be off-limits for discussion. That includes finances, sexuality, pet peeves, emotions, past traumas, and more. In another Wedding Wire article, Jenn Sinrich also mentions issues up for discussion such as your household division of labor, your relationships with friends and family, your feelings on having children, and what marriage means to you.

Don’t be surprised if your counselor assigns you homework. These exercises are meant to promote private study and contemplation on important issues. Also, your sessions will focus on past and present realities as well as your future together. This is logical, as preparing for marriage requires a greater understanding of past wounds and present conflicts.

Regardless of whether you want a secular or religious professional, it’s important to choose someone who tailors counseling to your needs. This individual will get to know you and your partner first to better assess how to help you. That may include asking you to talk about yourselves and your relationship, discuss your goals, and speak about hot-button issues.

Start Your Lives Together on the Right Foot 

As an impartial third party, a premarital counselor can provide helpful guidance to discuss and tackle important subjects and potential problems. Not only that, attending counseling together could help you take huge steps toward better understanding each other, both as romantic partners and as people. Premarital counseling’s benefits are sometimes overlooked, but it provides the time, environment, and space in which you can achieve some critical relationship goals before you get married.

Category: Engagement

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