Congratulations on your engagement!
Before you tie the knot, be sure to carve out time to prepare for marriage through premarital counseling. While wedding plans can occupy a lot of a recently engaged couple’s time, energy and finances, premarital counseling is undoubtedly one of the best areas to focus. You’re getting married after all, not becoming professional event planners.
WHAT IS PREMARITAL COUNSELING?
Premarital counseling is a special form of couples therapy that helps you strengthen your relationship and identify any blind spots prior to getting married. Think of it as preventative care for your future wedded bliss, allowing you to avoid major conflict in the future or learn how to navigate simple challenges that could escalate to massive issues down the line.
Research shows that couples who complete premarital counseling are 30% less likely to divorce or separate than couples who have not spent time preparing for marriage. With the average form of premarital counseling lasting about 8 hours, that’s less than a day of effort that help lead to a lifetime of a rich and satisfying relationship.
HOW IS PREMARITAL COUNSELING DIFFERENT THAN COUPLES THERAPY?
Couples therapy is typically centered on addressing an area of disconnect or stress within a particular relationship. While premarital counseling may help you discuss conflict or difficulties as a couple, it’s much more proactive and focused on equipping you with the tools you need to become a “master of marriage” as the Gottmans often refer to happily married couples. Note that the Gottmans are therapists who have been able to predict with 93% accuracy whether or not a couple will divorce simply by watching their interaction. (At Healthy Minds NYC, our relationship expert who offers premarital counseling is certified by the Gottman Institute).
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF PREMARITAL COUNSELING?
Styles of premarital counseling vary just as much as therapists do. However, you’ll typically find that they fall into one of the following categories: independent study, private counseling, group workshops and online assessments. At Healthy Minds NYC, we offer a variety of premarital counseling options such as the following:
Private Premarital Counseling. Our practice offers a marriage prep program that includes an online assessment from Prepare Enrich. After taking the assessment, you and your partner meet either in-person or virtually with our certified relationship expert to explore the results and discuss the areas of strength and growth in your relationship. We integrate exercises from Prepare, our marriage and family therapy training, and our experience counseling hundreds of New York City couples to help you enter marriage with confidence. We even provide a certificate of completion!
Premarital Counseling Group Workshop. If you’re interested in a condensed program that covers all that major topics most couples face in marriage, we offer the Healthy Minds NYC Premarital Counseling Workshop throughout the year. Visit http://healthyminds.nyc/premarital-workshop to find out our next date. In this workshop, we integrate the Prepare online assessment so you receive personalized information about your unique relationship. Then you gather with other couples for exercises, lecture, and private couple discussion. It’s a fun and enriching day to focus on the loving relationship you’re building together.
Prepare Enrich Online Assessment or SYMBIS Assessment. If you prefer to work independently and just want a research-based therapeutic assessment of your relationship, our practice provides access to the Prepare Enrich assessment or the SYMBIS (Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Assessment). This option is perfect if you want an overview of how your relationship is doing so you know where to focus your energy as you move toward your wedding day.
WHAT TOPICS ARE COVERED IN PREMARITAL COUNSELING?
In premarital counseling, you always have the option to focus on the topics that matter most to you. However, we find that it’s critical for couples to discuss the following topics:
Communication - Assertiveness and Active Listening
Children & Parenting
Extended Family Relationships
WHEN SHOULD YOU START PREMARITAL COUNSELING?
One of the biggest mistakes we see couples make when considering premarital counseling is waiting too long to begin. Don’t put off premarital counseling until weeks before the wedding or after you’ve made significant investments in the wedding process. As soon as you’re engaged, seek out what type of premarital counseling you’d like to do and allow more than enough time to complete the process. Generally, 6 months before the wedding date as a minimum is ideal. You’ll want to allow enough time to have important discussions about your relationship and the life you’re building together without any pressure from your social circle, financial investments or busy schedule. It’s not uncommon for long ignored issues in your relationship or individual pasts to get triggered as you discuss your future. Give yourself time to fully process whatever may arise.
Despite how weighty premarital counseling can sound or feel, it’s often one of the most joyful experiences a couple can have together on the road to marriage. By exploring individual and shared desires for the future couples usually see their intimacy grow as well as their confidence and excitement about the mate they have chosen.
If you want to learn more about premarital counseling options here at Healthy Minds NYC, visit our Premarital Counseling page to choose which option is best for you. As always with our practice, you can schedule a free consultation with our care coordinator who is happy to help you identify the best path for your unique circumstances. Schedule a free consultation with us today!