There is no true destination in a relationship other than living a life together that fosters support, love and growth. You’ve met someone you adore and cherish, but there are some things you just can’t work out. You think the world of them, you want to grow your understanding of them as an individual and strengthen your bond as a couple. How can that be done?
Premarital and marriage counseling can help serve as a tool to prepare for and enrich your romantic relationship.
“You do better in the gym with a trainer; you don’t figure out how to cook without reading a recipe. Therapy is not something to be embarrassed about.” – Actress Kristen Bell, on marriage counseling
So when is the right time to seek out premarital or marriage counseling? ANYTIME!
Three Benefits of Premarital and Marriage Counseling
1. Reduces your chance of divorce.
In 2018, U.S. divorce rates were between 40 to 50 percent. Premarital assessments help increase a couple’s marriage success by 30 percent, according to a study published in Family Relations.
“(Premarital) counseling was a tremendous blessing to our marriage. It made us think and see each other’s baggage. What can you live with?” – Actress Megan Good, on pre-marital counseling
2. Offers a safe place and tools to help you and your partner discuss difficult topics.
Often, once wedding planning has begun, it can feel unnerving to bring up unresolved issues within the relationship. Having time to really breakdown both partners’ opinions without wedding pressure can make for a reduction in stress.
Counseling addresses tough issues such as:
- Where will you live
- Spending habits
- Any unresolved relationship issues
3. Provides guidance on healthy relationship skills.
Many couples express seeing various levels of unhealthy relationship patterns and divorces throughout their family of origin. Premarital counseling can provide a space to learn skills to build and foster a healthy relationship.
“We come from broken families and we had no model of, ‘How are we supposed to keep this family together?’ And live this crazy life? There’s no model, there’s no book that says, ‘Here’s how to do this!’ So, we go to counseling, and it works.” – Singer Pink, on marriage counseling
Tools Used in Counseling
As a therapist, I use an assessment tool named Prepare-Enrich. It’s an assessment that can be used with couples that are just dating, engaged or already married. It’s a strengths-based assessment, not a test. It highlights the strongest parts of your relationship and helps to open communication about areas that need work. It gives a comprehensive graphic layout that couples can review with the therapist.
- Communication styles
- Sexual expectations
- Conflict resolution styles
- Relationship roles
- Spiritual beliefs
- Family & friends involvement
- Leisure activities
- Personality traits
Once the assessment is completed there are complementary skill-building exercises for areas that were identified needing strengthening. Counseling can seem like a chore if both parties aren’t invested. Going through pre-marital or marriage counseling should be fun and exciting!
Celebrities reducing stigma
“We have a very healthy marriage, and we got there by doing therapy when we needed it, and constantly doing fierce moral inventories. We both take responsibility when we are wrong, and I think it is easy to work with him because I married him, because I enjoy spending time with him and I trust him.” – Actress Kristin Bell, on marriage counseling
Many couples attend premarital and marriage counseling sessions but often don’t discuss it. Some celebrities are now talking openly about undergoing marriage counseling. Just remember, counseling isn’t just for celebrities but for any couple who wants a healthy, enriching relationship:
- Michelle Obama discussed the benefits that marriage counseling provided for her and former President Barack Obama in her memoir, ‘Becoming.’
- Business mogul and rapper “Jay-Z” Sean Carter discussed how counseling helped him to repair his marriage with Beyoncé Knowles and heal past wounds.
- Actors Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard have discussed the benefits marriage counseling has provided for them.
- Former NBA basketball player Dwayne Wade and wife actress Gabrielle Union discussed how counseling checkup sessions help to keep their relationship healthy.
The gifts of partnership
Teaching tools for couples to have a healthy, mutually satisfying and enjoyable relationship that endures for a lifetime is an honor. Marriage doesn’t have to be viewed as settling down or being tied down. Relationships and marriage gifts you the honor to bear witness to the highs and lows of someone’s life all while fostering happiness, love and devotion to one another.
“I know too many young couples who struggle and think somehow, there’s something wrong with them. I want them to know that … we work on our marriage and we get help with our marriage when we need it.” – Former First Lady Michelle Obama, on marriage counseling.
Elizza LeJeune, LMSW, is a fully licensed clinician social worker at the Pine Rest Northwest Clinic. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Central Michigan University and her Master’s in Social Work with a Certificate in Disaster Mental Health from Tulane University in New Orleans. Her areas of interest include working with children, adolescents and adults struggling with depression, anxiety and spiritual issues as well as family, child and women’s issues.