Marriage is a beautiful endeavor when built upon the proper foundation. Premarital counseling is fundamental to properly building that foundation, and couples who invest their time, money and energy into the process will continuously reap the benefits of that decision over the course of time. This article outlines five essential benefits of premarital counseling.
Essential Benefit 1: Learning to Effectively Navigate Disagreements
Every couple will have moments of disagreement on what I would describe as primary and secondary issues. Primary issues are based in the core beliefs and relational desires of each person. They relate to areas including finances, sex, extended family, faith, politics, health, etc. These are also domains where there is less room for negotiation or compromise. Secondary issues are more negotiable and include less weighty matters including what they would like to have for dinner this evening, what movie they would like to see over the weekend, where they should take their next vacation, or which color to paint their kitchen.
Whether dealing with primary or secondary issues, premarital counseling will provide engaged couples with time to practice respectfully working through differences in these areas, while also helping them to remain emotionally connected. Developing this essential skill set will help preserve the overall health and longevity of their soon to be marriage, while helping to reduce the potential for heated or unnecessary conflict.
Essential Benefit 2: Getting to Know Each Other More Deeply
Engaged couples do a great disservice to each other when they move too fast, emotionally and sexually, and decide to get married before they truly know each other. As a result, they often find themselves carrying the pain of deep regret, fear and uncertainty because they are in a marriage to someone who is very different from the person they initially fell in love with during the honeymoon phase of their engagement.
Premarital counseling enables couples to avoid that pitfall by slowing down and taking the time necessary to explore how each person functions when things are going smoothly or otherwise. Remember, marriage is a forever commitment and you want to know you are making a sound decision when all is said and done. Furthermore, if there are any questions about making this commitment, these can safely be addressed in the premarital context.
Essential Benefit 3: Addressing Trust Issues in the Relationship
It is not uncommon for couples I work with to already be facing trust issues by the time they are engaged. This may be the result of a partner’s use of pornography, an emotional or sexual infidelity, a tense situation involving future in-laws, or an unresolved conflict leaving one or both members deeply wounded emotionally. Working to bring a resolution to these and other trust issues is necessary because they will carry directly into the marriage itself, and likely only get worse over time.
Essential Benefit 4: Learning How to Set Clear Boundaries
Another reason I strongly advocate for premarital counseling is that it helps couples learn how to set effective boundaries in their relationship. When a couple is dating or newly engaged boundaries can be very hard to set because they feel so in love and don’t want to offend each other. Though understandable, they have to learn how to effectively assert and respect each person’s boundaries.
Doing so will help them to stay aligned emotionally and have a clear understanding of what each person wants or doesn’t want to see take place when they are married. These boundaries may pertain to time with family, sex, money, church involvements, etc. There are many areas to explore in this regard, but either way, they need to be addressed before getting married.
Essential Benefit 5: Deciding if Marriage is the Proper Course of Action
The reality is certain couples should not get married, while some are absolutely right for each other. Facing this reality is essential and premarital counseling can help couples discern whether marrying each other is the right course of action or something which they need to reconsider. Taking the time to make this distinction is a sign of maturity, and my hope is that couples reading this article will allow themselves to have plenty of time to do just that.
Eric Gomez, LMFT
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
Fulfilled Christian Counseling