Why Premarital Counseling Should Not Be Optional

Premarital counseling is much more important than the ring, dress and flowers!

Premartial Counseling
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Despite the love and romance felt by most engaged couples, the harsh reality is that nearly half of all marriages fail. As the divorce rate continues to inflate and the demand for marriage counseling rises, so does the need for commitment education. In fact, all couples can benefit from proper relationship preparation.  It would be a good idea to make this mandatory for you and your future spouse instead of thinking of it as optional.

Marriage advice given during premarital counseling provides couples with the skills and knowledge that are necessary to maintain a healthy, lasting marriage.

What Is Premarital Counseling?

Premarital counseling, also called premarital preparation, is not therapy, but rather a session or series of sessions designed to educate and support couples as they enter the serious commitment of marriage. Although nonreligious marriage counselors often provide premarital relationship advice, most couples who participate in premarital counseling programs are guided by a religious authority. No matter who leads a couple through their time of preparation, premarital counseling is an opportunity for couples to learn about themselves and each other - it is a tool that is used to facilitate later marital happiness.

Research has shown that seven areas of knowledge and relationship skills contribute to the development and success of stable partnerships.

Therefore, effective premarital preparation will encourage couples to address their personalities, compatibility, beliefs about sexuality and intimacy, expectations, and long-term goals. Couples should also discuss their families of origin, communication styles, and conflict resolution skills. During the course of premarital counseling, the couple will gain the abilities that are necessary to build and maintain a successful long-term relationship.

A couple that participates in a premarital counseling program will discuss their hopes, fears, and desires. The two will be encouraged to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their relationship. They will identify areas of difference that may be sources of later conflict and receive education in regards to the psychological tools and communication skills that will later guide them through difficult times in their marriage.

Benefits and Effects

Romance or love alone are not enough to keep a marriage alive - these should be supplemented by the benefits gleaned from premarital education. Marriage preparation is both necessary and effective: Premarital counseling ensures high relationship quality, creates lasting happiness, and prevents divorce.

The majority of couples face their most difficult and significant challenges during the first five years of their relationship. Early marriage education, therefore, limits the formation of harmful habits and inhibits unhealthy relationship patterns. Couples who have participated in premarital counseling programs report improved communication, effective conflict management skills, higher levels of dedication to one another, heightened emphasis on the positive aspects of their relationships, and improved overall quality of their marriage.

In fact, the marriage advice of premarital counselors increases marital success rates by as much as thirty percent. These benefits also extend to couples at higher risk for divorce - premarital counseling creates favorable results for young couples, couples with significant areas of difference, and couples in which one or both partner has experienced a previous divorce.

Premarital counseling is not a test; it is not another hoop to jump. It is a tool. Proper marriage preparation offers relationship advice. It teaches vital skills and enlightens couples to their partners’ wants, needs, and desires of their marriage. It is important that couples spend time in preparation for their life together: Lovers that participate in premarital counseling are likely to experience healthy, positive, lasting marriages.

Interested in more information or resources on premarital counseling? Read: What Engaged Couples Should Talk About Before Saying, "I Do!"