If you're engaged, please understand that your relationship has never been at a more important place than it is right now. Why would I make this statement? The reason is that the foundation of every lasting marriage is laid in the early stages of its development. The steps taken by a couple during their engagement to develop heightened levels of understanding regarding each member's personality, to address points of conflict, and to learn how to effectively identify and meet each other's needs over time are absolutely priceless when it comes to building a strong emotional bond.
Premarital Assessment Options
One of the best ways to examine these different dimensions of a relationship is by taking a premarital assessment. There are different versions of these assessments available, however I recommend the following two options:
Both offer engaged couples a thorough overview of their relational dynamics. I have found them useful in helping couples explore important areas of their relationship, such as family of origin histories, personality differences, gender / relationship role expectations, sex, spirituality, communication, conflict resolution and more. My recommendation would be to review the information available on each website using the links above to determine which seems like it would be the best fit for you before moving forward.
Working with a Facilitator
Both the SYMBIS and Prepare Enrich assessments require that you select and work with a facilitator who can guide you through your assessment results. I realize some of you may wonder why this would be necessary, however this requirement is in place for good reason. I make that statement as a Marriage & Family Therapist specializing in work with premarital and married couples, and have seen time and time again how having a professional counselor, pastor, or lay facilitator who is certified in administering these assessments is valuable.
Here are a few reasons why:
- They are trained to help couples understand and review their premarital assessment results. Facilitators are individuals who have received specific training in helping couples review their assessment results, which need to be administered with great care and thought, and which may not be intuitive without such training. Having a facilitator, in this sense, alleviates the pressure of having to work hard at understanding the feedback from your assessment, while providing you with someone who can answer any questions you may have about your results.
- They are professionally trained to understand the often complicated and nuanced dynamics of couple relationships. This means they will often catch the strength and growth areas between you and your partner that might otherwise go unnoticed. They will also take you through each section of your assessment, describe what the results mean, and help you as a couple explore the positive and negative dynamics of your relationship indicated in those sections.
- They will help keep your conversation constructive. The information you and your significant other provide in a premarital assessment is incredibly personal, which requires that it is discussed with the greatest care and safety. A facilitator can help ensure your conversations about that information are done so in a thoughtful, versus conflictual, manner that will allow the trust between you to develop.
- You can develop a lasting connection with a trusted clinical / pastoral professional. Working with a facilitator enables you to establish a connection with a trusted clinical professional who can guide you in the development of your relationship before and after you are married. Obtaining such wisdom can be invaluable to the future health of a your relationship.
These reasons, though not exhaustive by any means, provide a glimpse into why working with a facilitator is a central to going through the premarital assessment process.
Thinking of Your Marital Future Today
Whether you are currently engaged or plan to be engaged in the near future, my hope is that you will begin thinking about your marital future today. Taking the time to invest in your relationship by taking a premarital assessment and working with a facilitator will serve you and your partner well in the end. My encouragement would be to do so as part of premarital counseling, which allows you to not only review your assessment results, but to actually work at developing your communication and conflict resolution skills, becoming used to being other-focused, and living out your Christian faith as you seek to love one another effectively each day.
I mentioned earlier that I work with lots of couples, however what I didn't mention is how many of them could have avoided much of the heartache and tension in their marriages had they dedicated the time necessary to take an assessment and go through the premarital counseling process.
This is why my message to you and other engaged couples is this:
"Making an investment in your relationship today will pay great dividends in the future."
My prayer is that you will take the time to do so and experience the richness that comes from making that decision.
For more information about Fulfilled Christian Counseling and our Premarital Counseling options, please contact us by clicking on the button below.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Eric Gomez, MS LMFT MHP
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Fulfilled Christian Counseling