Key Takeaways Key Takeaways
  • Approach premarital counseling with an open mind and heart.

  • Be prepared to be honest, vulnerable, and willing to grow.

  • Remember, it’s not about finding “faults” per se- but developing a clear and sober picture of your compatibility for the future – in pursuit of ensuring a stronger, healthier relationship.

Happily Ever After Starts Here: The Benefits of Premarital Counseling in Preventing Divorce

According to the CDC, the current national divorce rate for adults aged 25-39 is 24 per 1,000 persons and 21- per 1000 persons for those 40-49 years of age.

Divorce is costly.  Financially, spiritually – and emotionally.

Divorce ranks as one of life’s most stressful events, coming second only to the death of a spouse, according to research. Studies show that those who experience a major life event like divorce are 2.5 to 9.4 times more likely to develop depression. For individuals already living with depression, the end of a marriage can exacerbate these symptoms.

It’s important for anyone going through a breakup or considering a divorce to understand these risks so they can take steps toward protecting themselves against the potential long-term emotional effects.

On the rise is the option of Premarital Counseling with a mental health professional.

Premarital Counseling acts as an early preventative measure by allowing potential mates to receive professional analysis to uncover potential issues that may create unmanageable conflict – and work them out early.

The roots of pre-marital counseling are grounded in religious practices. Newly formed couples frequently sought the wise counsel of their priests or rabbis to evaluate their needs and compatibilities as they advanced toward consideration of a lifetime commitment.

For example, Christian premarital counseling is specifically designed for Christian couples who are preparing for marriage and seeking guidance from a faith-based perspective. The main goal of Christian premarital counseling is to help couples establish a strong spiritual foundation for their marriage and navigate the challenges and joys of married life in alignment with their Christian values.

In general, premarital counseling gained recognition and clinical credibility as an essential part of any modern marriage preparation. The rise of psychology and the increased emphasis on mental and emotional well-being in relationships contributed to the formalization of premarital counseling.

A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology in 2014, titled “The Effectiveness of Pre-marital Prevention Programs: A Meta-Analytic Study,” conducted a meta-analysis of 20 studies involving more than 10,000 couples. The researchers found that couples who participated in premarital counseling had a 31% lower chance of divorce compared to those who did not receive such counseling.

Another study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 2016, titled “Evaluating a Brief Prevention Program for Improving Marital Conflict in Community Families,” found that couples who underwent premarital counseling reported higher relationship satisfaction and were less likely to experience marital distress.

Think about it: Have you ever considered preparing for marriage, just as you would prepare for a big job interview or a marathon? It might sound unusual, but pre-marriage counseling could be the key to building lasting love and most importantly preparing for the strains that marriages present – and starting your shared journey on a solid foundation. In fact, the positive impact of pre-marriage counseling has been reflected in research for decades. Remarkably, couples who participated in Pre-Marriage Counseling experienced a 30% increase in the quality of their marital relations compared to those who skipped counseling. This evidence reinforces the proactive value of such a step in fortifying the foundation of a marriage.

Embarking on this proactive approach to relationships is beneficial, yet it often finds itself wrapped up in controversy and misunderstanding.

Unpacking Premarital Counseling: What it Entails

Premarital counseling, a form of couples therapy, is all about strengthening your relationship and building a solid foundation before tying the knot. It’s like taking a guided tour of your shared future, learning the layout, and understanding potential pitfalls before you actually move in.  Much like working out an exhaustive architectural plan before committing to construction.

This process is not just for couples who are experiencing conflicts – It’s for anyone ready to say, “I do” and who is serious about building a resilient foundation for their future. Just imagine: how strong could your bond become if you could work out those inevitable knots before they even become issues?

Typically, during a pre-marital counseling session, you will explore topics that likely won’t come up in everyday conversations. Common pre-marriage counseling questions revolve around topics like finance management, parenting preferences, conflict resolution, and family relationships. Each session offers an opportunity to deepen your understanding of one another and to equip yourselves with tools for a successful marriage.

Given what’s at stake, It’s hard to refute the value of the investment. Remember, you’re not just planning a wedding, you’re planning a marriage – a lifetime commitment. Pre-marriage counseling helps you lay a solid foundation for a lasting future.

Challenging Common Myths about Premarital Counseling

Premarital therapy comes with its fair share of misconceptions. Some believe it’s only for couples who are teetering on the brink of breakup. Another stigma is that the very act of seeking counseling signifies that a relationship is doomed. No one wants to admit that their relationship is complicated – or even difficult.

So, let’s set the record straight.

First, any form of counseling is not a distress signal. It is in fact a mature step towards mutual growth and understanding. Much like a couple attending a finance workshop to manage their money better, counseling is a proactive approach to strengthen their emotional bond.

These misconceptions stem from a culture that often equates counseling with crisis. However, just as we go for routine medical checkups to maintain our physical health, premarital counseling should be seen as a preventative measure for relationship health.

Tackling the Stigma of Premarital Counseling

The stigma surrounding counseling is deeply rooted in societal norms that view seeking help as a weakness. At LifeStance, we know from our professional experience that this could not be further from the truth. In fact, it takes courage and strength to work on personal growth and mutual understanding before entering a marriage.

We can only start to normalize premarital therapy by openly discussing it, sharing success stories, and celebrating it as a wise step towards a healthy marriage.

By seeking pre-marriage counseling with a therapist, openly talking about its benefits, and supporting others who choose this path, we can break down the stigma and make it an accepted, even celebrated, part of the journey to lifelong relationships.

Uncovering the Benefits of Pre-Marriage Counseling

Stepping into the world of premarital counseling opens the door to numerous benefits. Improved communication is often the most celebrated one. Through virtual therapy sessions or in-person appointments, couples can develop new skills to express their thoughts, fears, aspirations, and disappointments clearly, fostering deeper understanding and intimacy.

Conflict resolution is another significant outcome. Couples who utilize premarital counseling can acquire skills to navigate disagreements constructively, avoiding hurtful cycles of blame and defensiveness – which can cycle into alienation and separation.

Moreover, counseling encourages couples to explore their expectations—about finances, family planning, career goals, and even household chores. Having these discussions early on helps prevent future misunderstandings and resentment.

Premarital counseling can help individuals see what is really in front of them so that they know that they are making the right – or wrong – choice. The old adage that Love is blind is true.  The excitement that comes with an early courtship can cloud couples from seeing the longer-term cracks in the well. Premarital counseling is a smart and potentially life-saving investment. Another benefit of premarital counseling is that it can help couples strengthen their communication skills before they get married – providing a roadmap and tools for addressing the issues that will no doubt arise in the future.

Authored By 

LifeStance Health
LifeStance Health

LifeStance is a mental healthcare company focused on providing evidence-based, medically driven treatment services for children, adolescents, and adults suffering from a variety of mental health issues in an outpatient care setting, both in-person and through its digital health telemedicine offering.

Reviewed By

Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S
Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S

Nicholette is a faculty member at John Carroll University’s Clinical Counseling program, and she is also the host of the LifeStance podcast, Convos from the Couch.