March 18, 2010

Premarial Counseling - A Must?

Now that Cape Cod Groom and I are married, I've begun to look back at our wedding process and reminisce.  One element of our ride to the altar that I have been pondering, but never blogged about before, was our marriage classes.

Because we were getting married by my father at the church I grew up at on Cape Cod, we did not do premarital counseling with him since that would be downright akward.  But, it was important to my MIL that we take marriage classes at the church where my husband was raised.  Initially I was not looking forward to the classes.  I felt that as a couple, we already had very good communication and the capability to do so maturely in the event of future disagreements.  Plus, as a therapist myself, I have experience with counseling couples, so I felt I already knew the "basics" of couples counseling and could implement these skills in my own relationship.

That being said, I acquiesced and enrolled in the classes (they were public, not one therapist per couple) because it was important to my husband's family.  Although I won't go into details about the classes here, the gist of them was that each class had a lecture, often by a married couple, about their relationship and what we could learn from their trials and tribulations.  While I did not always agree with their perspective, the class was useful because afterward on the drive home, my then-fiance and I would compare our thoughts on the class, the couple that taught, and communicate about our views and beliefs.  And it was nice to learn that we nearly always agreed with each other on the important issues (perhaps that is why we were getting married, LOL)! 

Overall, I think that it is beneficial and important for all engaged couples to do some sort of exploratory counseling before their wedding.  If you are not getting married in a church or a place that provides these services, I would recommend going to an independent therapist if you have health insurance.  Most health insurance policies cover a select number of counseling sessions per year (usually 6-12), so why not use them if you have them? If you are on Medicaid, you can also find clinics that accept that as well.

Finally, if you are uninsured, or just want to learn more about your partner or work through any relationship issues on your own, I recommend a great book by Dr. John Gottman called the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (click link for image source).  It is an easy to read, practical book about relationship advice, and even includes a fun and comprehensive quiz about how well you know your partner!

Are you and your fiance taking any sort of premarital counseling? If so, has it been helpful for you? Do you think it is something all couples should engage in prior to their wedding?



  1. I think people should do this, and this is actually the part of being engaged I am most looking forward to! Maybe that means we should just do it now and go see a therapist? Of course I think my boyfriend and I have a great foundation, but I think there are some issues that would be best worked out in a counseling setting. Plus, I really want to take the compatibility test -- just out of curiosity! Thanks for the tips.

  2. We did it. I would recommend it to anyone. Can totally see why you didn't want to do it with your Dad though!

  3. I can't wait to do it. I'm really looking forward to it. I think it is important to make sure you've talked through everything before you get married. There are some things that a young couple wouldn't necessarily think of discussing themselves.

  4. I would also endorse premarital counseling to any couple. This is simply the best time to get everything out in the open. Ooh yes doing it with your dad would have been awkward!

  5. Neither my husband nor I are religious (and we weren't married in a church at all), so we didn't go through premarital counseling. I definitely wouldn't have said no to it though if someone in our lives felt strongly about it though. I think a lot of times when people hear "premarital counseling" they think of it as something you only need to do if you have problems with the relationship, but obviously this is totally untrue. I think it's a great tool to prepare you for the marriage. Plus it's extra great that you learned that you agreed on everything!

  6. We didn't do marriage counseling. So I can't endorse or disagree with it. B-man and I have known each other for... 8 years - and the majority of that was spent talking for hours every night (chatting... can you imagine those phone bills?!). We had touched every topic imaginable (when we were in high school (and definitely not dating) he told me that he didn't see himself getting married, but that he would love to adopt. Oh how things have changed!).

    As part of our long-distance engagement I bought a few books online, those "1000 things to know before you get married" books... and we would talk on the phone every night, and just discuss a few of the topics. Some times we would get through whole pages, and then some times we would only talk about one topic. It was good for us to just have a list of questions to ask each other. If I had to do it again - I wouldn't change anything.

    Some one told me that you don't know what a person is like until you've seen them at the best and worst of times. Eight years gave us many of those ups and downs - and I knew exactly what I was getting into.

  7. I think it's a great idea. I was going to say that since my fiance live in England I don't see how we'd be able to do it, so Jessica, using a book as a springboard for conversation is a great idea, thanks!

  8. We just finished a 13 week pre marital course! We loved it! I really think it's a must for engaged couples!

  9. I am a social worker but also do marriage counseling in my practice. i recommend Gottman's book to my couples and often use exercises from it with them,



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