Counseling Before Marriage: Will This Become the New Law?

Learn how counseling can help you cope with relationship struggles and prepare for "happily ever after" together.
By: 
Sharon Naylor

While you're planning your wedding, are you also preparing for your marriage? According to a survey published in the Journal of Family Psychology, couples with premarital education reported higher levels of marital satisfaction and experienced a 30% decline in the likelihood of divorce over five years. (This topic is especially timely because Colorado has proposed a ballot that would require engaged couples to complete premarital counseling before they’re legally allowed to wed.)

If you're getting married in a house of worship, then you might already have faith-based marriage classes booked in your schedule, since some churches and synogogues mandate them. And if you're not among the engaged couples required to get counseling, then you may be curious about whether or not it's worth taking the plunge. 

Here, get a comprehensive look at how an accredited counselor can help you build a solid foundation for your future together. Also, find out what you should discuss with your future spouse before walking down the aisle.

couple holding hands
Photo by: Robyn Van Dyke Photography on Southern Weddings via Lover.ly

The Benefits of Marriage Counseling

Creating positive marriage resolutions. It's easy to get emotional when discussing heavy-duty topics like money, sex, and kids. An experienced counselor can help guide the conversation and prevent you and your partner from going off on a tangent, thereby losing focus and not accomplishing anything.

Learning (or improving) conflict resolution skills. If you've had some major tiffs or blowouts in the past (and who hasn't?) then you both know how you tend to react during arguments, whether it's wielding the silent treatment and pouting or yelling and name-calling. If you're being honest with yourself, then there's probably room for improvement. A counselor will teach you how to listen and communicate more effectively; more specifically, they'll also tell you what to say (and not say) in order to reach a happy solution. 

Getting realistic expectations about timing. For example, if you come to an agreement that the kids topic is off the table for two years, then you won't be left anxious or frustrated when you want to delve into that plan and your partner isn't ready. This also applies to major purchases like buying a house.

Avoiding toxic resentments. Clear the air about resentments you've been hanging onto throughout your relationship. A counselor will help you resolve these issues and free yourselves from them so that they don't cause massive damage later on in your marriage.

Dismantling fears about marriage. One or both of you might come from a divorced family, or from a dysfunctional background where fighting and manipulation was the norm. Premarital counseling can teach you how to make peace with your past and break the cycle.

Identifying the "seeds" of future marital stress. With an experienced outsider's perspective, you can learn which behaviors and habits you need to adjust or quit cold turkey.

Next: How to make the most of your sessions ►