Marriage is an investment, and like every worthwhile investment, it requires time, intention, and sacrifice. Committed relationships are "practice" for marriage (if you do them right) and premarital counseling, well, let's say it's the gateway. Think of premarital counseling as the "nurse" to your existing relationship and the "check-in appointment" to prepare for your future investment.
About a year before my husband and I married in 2018, we went on a hunt for premarital counseling. I personally was seeking a premarital therapist or psychologist and a pastor, or a two in one. He didn't really care who we chose lol, as long as they were relatable. We ended up not finding a therapist or psychologist because I felt the ones we contemplated weren't the right fit (I'm a little picky :-).
So, we decided to go with two different pastors who we knew would offer two unique and helpful perspectives. One was a younger, contemporary pastor and wife - they were like "sibling" models, and the other was an older Bishop- he was like a "grandpa." One was exciting, while the other was serious. Oh so serious LOL but we appreciated the differences in personality and structure.
The Bishop, the serious one, gave us valuable insight into the biblical view of marriage and provided scripture based counsel on how to communicate, navigate our relationship as husband and wife, and sex. I love the Bishop but disagreed with him on a few things during our sessions. If you don't agree with your counselor or think something won't work for you, speak up. It's okay to disagree in love, of course :-). So choose a counselor who's beliefs and values align with yours.
Our second experience with the younger couple was so much fun, we were in there laughing out loud. It was so insightful. We learned the purpose of our marriage, how to use our natural, God-given gifts to elicit a favorable response out of the other, and so much more. The only thing missing from these two experiences was the psychology of relationships and people, in my opinion. But hey, they're pastors. Their specialties are theology and divinity, so I didn't sweat it.
During the first year of our marriage (our anniversary is the 24th ayyyyyye!), we were learning things about one another and what marriage really was to the point that I'd found myself thinking, "Damn, I wished we covered this in premarital!" This is what inspired me to add SIGNIFICANTLY to Prackind's premarital curriculum.
Now granted everything about marriage won't be covered in premarital because we are evolving beings and some things just won't come up until you have joined as one, and you deal with them then. However, premarital counseling will provide a thorough evaluation of the individual and the couple as a whole, relationship enhancement and skill building tasks tailored to you (because we know cookie-cutter resolution skills don't work for everyone lol). Counseling will also help you create a relationship culture so that you can actualize your union, and live up to your full potential.
Since marriage is an investment and premarital counseling is the gateway to this investment, it's important that you're prepared for the premarital process. Together, ask yourselves these 7 questions to see if y' all are ready to move forward and get the most out of this beautiful experience:
Have we both agreed that we would like to marry each other?
You don't know how many times a couple has scheduled premarital counseling and we get to the initial meeting only to learn that one person would like to marry and the other is in limbo. And I'm like, "y' all, then we can't do this now…" Premarital counseling is for couples who've both decided and agreed to marry one another. If the desire to marry is one-sided and not mutual, premarital isn't the space for y' all, yet as you may need help unveiling and navigating the path of your relationship. Relationship therapy would be.
Are we willing to engage in premarital at least 6 months before our ceremony?
I'd say six months is the minimal amount to ensure that you have enough time to explore, work through, and address any issues that need to be beforehand. If you can, do a year or two before. This provides time to relax, comfortably engage in and apply what you learn about yourselves, one another, and the relationship during the process. Sessions are encouraged to be flexible and engaging at a reasonable pace. What's the rush? :-)
Are we willing and comfortable with making the investment?
Premarital counseling is a financial investment that's typically offered in the form of a package. It's not covered by insurance. Are y' all comfortable and ready to make the investment into your future investment as one?
Are we willing to be completely transparent with one another?
This is a big one. Don't come in with the lies. If you're not at the point of truth-telling, disclosing all relevant information (because non-disclosure is lying too) and sharing transparently, no worries. Consider individual therapy first. An intentional lack of honesty with yourself or babe is an issue of the heart, and if it isn't resolved is guaranteed to disrupt and destroy your partnership. Premarital counseling encourages an open, honest, and safe space for both partners to freely share and be.
Will we approach this process like a team?
You are a team, no matter what (except for abuse, addiction, affair, and whatever else your personal nonnegotiables may be). This is the lens you should wear before deciding to commit your lives to one another. If your relationship feels one-sided or like y' all are enemies or one or both of you aren't confident in your ability to stand up for and support one another, in the relationship, premarital may not be your next best step yet. Relationship or couples therapy may be. This route focuses on repair- repairing any unresolved pain points or betrayals in the relationship that cause a sense of division.
Are we prepared to put in the work in between sessions and wholeheartedly apply what we've learned?
Whoop! Another big one. Premarital counseling is about proactivity, application, and collective growth. It encourages you to engage in both tangible and intangible assignments in the in between for you to experience the best results. Are y' all ready to do the work in the session and in between?
Can we commit to getting a good night's rest at least the night before we attend counseling sessions?
We live in a fast-paced, on to the next world. For most of us, a good night's rest is not a priority, but for this process, it helps a WHOLE lot if it is. Water and sleep natural healers. To get the best experience, you have to come in at your best time and show up as your best self. Rest is essential to making this happen. Consider creating a soothing evening routine of engaging in these steps for a better night's rest during the process:
√ Limit your screen time (TV, social media, etc.)
√ Your caffeine intake to early morning time (if you need it at all 😉)
√ Consume a generous amount of water, and
√ engage in a soothing nighttime routine.
What other questions do you have about the premarital therapy process? Send me a note here.