What is premarital counseling and is it worth the time and money?

It has been well documented that since the mid eighties, 50 % of all marriages in the US result in divorce. Interestingly, it is the seventh year of marriage which presents itself as the most popular time to bid goodbye. The latter statistic most likely gave rise to the cliché we all know these days as “the seven year itch.”

After hearing statistics of this caliber, one cannot help but wonder… What keeps a couple together? What commonalities do successful marriages share? Research has proven that certain qualities will produce a successful marriage, these include: High-income level, compatibility, communication and conflict resolution skills as well as spiritual involvement. Evidence of the most common contributing factors to divorce includes: Marrying at a young age, financial difficulties, defective communication skills, poor conflict resolution, stepping-out of the marriage, etc.

Research shows that premarital counseling reduces the risk of divorce by up to 30%.

Marriage is not only a beautiful love fest as described in many love stories but also a living breathing partnership filled with many ongoing self-adjustments activities and moving away from being single. There is love to grow, bills to pay, children to rear, dinners to prepare, a home to maintain, diapers to change, lunches to be made, social responsibilities to attend…. and on and on. A well-established partnership is required to successfully manage a family-system.

Premarital counseling offers the opportunity for a couple to discuss daily changes and possible resolution to stressful moments as they may surface throughout a marriage. In premarital counseling, couples discuss topics such as cultural differences, child rearing philosophies, finances’ management, and life’s goals. Couples work out any issues that may surface as a result of different family’s values and cultures. Premarital counseling allows the couple to start the marriage off communicating effectively using conflict resolution techniques and real and facing assumed expectation for the soon to be spouse. Premarital counseling is proactive in that it prevents negative relationship habits from forming.

Premarital counseling will offer the couple opportunities that will better prepare them for challenges ahead of them. As mentioned above, a couple has a 50/50 chance of remaining married throughout their lives. With odds like those, opting for premarital counseling makes a lot of sense.

Is Premarital Counseling or Education for You?

The short answer is a resounding YES! Getting married without pre-marriage preparation is like starting a business or any important venture without preparing for it. Many happy engaged couples assume that they won't be contributing to the increase in divorce statistics. Some mistakenly believe that having lived together or known each other for a long time will prepare them for marriage. Surprisingly, research shows that cohabiting couples have no better chance at marriage success than others.

It can also reduce the stress of the pre-wedding period. Just a little effort now can make your odds a whole lot better over the long run. You want to do everything you can to ensure that your dreams of a great marriage and a great life are realized.

Here's a concise list of seven relationship skill and knowledge areas that research has shown to contribute to the success and endurance of marriage:

  • Compatibility
  • Expectation
  • Personalities and families-of-origin
  • Communication
  • Conflict resolution
  • Intimacy and sexuality
  • Long-term goals