Our practice has helped hundreds of engaged couples receive premarital counseling services in New York City.
Through our group workshops, private mentoring programs or meeting with couples privately, we always consider it an honor to be able to participate in the health and growth of a couple’s relationship.
And while most couples are excited to dive into premarital counseling and develop a better understanding of their strength and growth areas, some couples have some anxiety as they try to decide how and when to meet with a counselor.
We want to make sure you succeed in navigating the premarital counseling process, especially here in New York City where it can be challenging to find a quality provider.
So below we’ve outlined the top three mistakes we see couples make when starting premarital counseling. Look through the list and double-check that you are setting yourselves up well for this important step in preparing for marriage.
Getting premarital counseling solely from your officiant or regular pastor.
We are huge fans of meeting with your officiant before the wedding andI think pastors are a valuable part of the marriage preparation process. Think about it. It’s important for your officiant to know you’re ready before they (literally) co-sign on your marriage, and it’s useful to seek out spiritual guidance before saying I do.
However, don’t confuse these types of meetings with the help a trained relationship expert can provide. Specifically an expert trained in marriage and family therapy is your most helpful asset to navigate the engagement season. These professionals have spent countless supervised hours working with couples to build relational health. Based on their years of experience working mainly with couples, a relationship expert has the greatest chance of quickly identifying the red flags in your relationship that could cause problems later. As therapists, they are also trained to give you the psycho-education and techniques needed to build a solid marriage.
Delaying premarital counseling until too close to the wedding date.
Most couples wait way too long to begin premarital counseling. While saying yes to the dress and choosing centerpieces can be more exciting, we recommend making premarital counseling one of the first steps you take together as a newly engaged couple.
Quality premarital counseling should allow you to fully explore the various aspects of the life you intend to establish together. That means talking about how you’ll handle finances, where you’ll live, what you think about children and more. If you wait until the month before your wedding to have these intense discussions, you’ll likely either fail to go to the depths needed for it to be beneficial or you’ll have a more difficult time having these conversations amidst the stress of wedding details. Start premarital counseling at least 3 months before the wedding to relieve any pressure. There is no such thing as starting too early when it comes to counseling.
Avoiding tough issues in sessions.
You would imagine that if a couple signs up for premarital counseling, that would mean they are ready to talk about the real issues. Unfortunately, we find that more often than not couples are so set on getting married, by the time they see us they try to avoid any major conflicts that might tear apart the relationship. Don’t make this mistake!
Premarital counseling is the time to address all your relationship concerns in the safety of meeting with a trusted professional. Unlike marital therapy where our focus is on salvaging the relationship and striving to keep you together if that is what you desire, the goal of premarital counseling is to amplify any differences. We want to highlight any potential areas of growth or any cracks in their foundation so you can enter marriage with confidence, knowing your partner better and equipped with the skills to manage any future challenges.
The work you put into your relationship prior to marriage can save you a great deal of unnecessary distress after the wedding. Make sure to start preparing for marriage now.
A great way to get started is by taking an online relationship assessment (like the reputable Prepare Enrich online assessment) to evaluate your current relationship. Or you can start by booking your first session with a counselor.
Not yet ready to bring someone else into your relationship discussions? Scroll down to grab our free list of 10 Helpful Relationship Books to Read Right Now. You can save the list easily and get quick links to explore each book in more detail by clicking here to get the PDF. Add this to your wedding prep binder or folder on your computer so you’re all set.
It’s a great primer covering how to manage major issues like communication, conflict resolution and sexual intimacy that cause many marriages to fail.
Congratulations on your engagement. We’re cheering for you!
THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF MAKING MARRIAGE WORK
The Gottmans are well-respected for their ability to predict with over 90% accuracy whether or not a couple will divorce. If you read nothing else, grab this book to prepare for marriage .
SAVING YOUR MARRIAGE BEFORE IT STARTS
With a complementary online assessment, this book by the Parrotts provides a wealth of exercises to process the big relationship questions during your engagement.
THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE
Are you establishing a covenant or a contract marriage? Have you ever considered the difference? Particularly if you come from a faith background, this book helps ensure you and your partner share marriage beliefs.
THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES
What is the best way to demonstrate love to your partner? It might not be the way you think. This book is a go-to tool to enhance communication love. Be sure to take the free online assessment as well to learn your styles!
HIS NEEDS, HER NEEDS
Are there really relationship differences between men and women? Consider the gender divide and close the gap with this helpful book on the needs of the sexes.
A CELEBRATION OF SEX
Let’s talk about sex baby! You’re not married just to watch Netflix together. Rev up your sexual intimacy with this exciting book on the physical aspect of marriage.
Have you prepared for sex on your honeymoon? Particularly if you’ve waited until marriage to be sexually intimate, this is a great practical book on engaging in sex as a married couple.
THE MARRIAGE BUILDER
What are the building blocks of marriage? Relationship expert Larry Crabb identifies his top three for people of faith.
HOLD ME TIGHT
Sue Johnson is a titan of marital therapy and this book provides an accessible overview of some of the deepest issues therapist’s often treat in counseling when a couple is on the brink of divorce. Keep this on your shelf!
LOVE AND RESPECT
According to Eggerich, men primarily seek respect while women seek love. For couples coming from a more traditional background, the language applied to these gender dynamics may prove helpful for you.
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!