Americans love to party. We love holidays. We love birthdays. We are a downright festive society. So it is no surprise that we have turned weddings into a big bash – as it should be, love is a wonderful reason to celebrate.
We put a lot of ourselves into these celebrations. Did you know that the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is now $26,444? And according to a survey by My Wedding Workbook, 75 percent of U.S. brides spend at least 120 hours planning a wedding. All of that makes for one heck of a shindig!
Whether your wedding is the event of the season or a small, intimate gathering a simple fact remains – at the end of the party, you’ll be married. After the gown is packed away and the thank you notes are written, how prepared will you feel as a couple to handle the every-day challenges of married life?
Premarital Counseling is the best way to get the tools you need to create the marriage you desire. A little effort now can make a big difference down the road.
What kind of difference?
- Couples that participate in a premarital counseling and education program report a 30% stronger marriage than other couples (Stanley, Amato, Johnson & Markman, 2006.)
- Couples who receive Premarital Counseling feel a higher sense of partnership and report a higher level of adjustment to married life than couples who did not receive premarital education.
- A study of 1,235 couples found that 92 percent of couples reported premarital counseling helped during their first year of marriage. In a follow up four years later, 80 percent of these couples still reported premarital counseling has helped them in their marriage (Carroll & Doherty, 2003).
So, how do you go about picking a program? Much like your wedding photos, you want what you learn in Premarital Counseling to last a lifetime, so choose your program carefully. To get the most from your experience, a quality Premarital Counseling program should:
- Include a scientifically validated assessment
- An excellent example is the PREPARE inventory, which provides objective information about your relationship dynamics and helpful information such as personality styles and family dynamics.
- Be administered by a trained and licensed professional
- Anyone on the Internet can claim to be a relationship expert – but reading a few books does not an expert make. A graduate degree, extensive training during licensure, on-going continuing education and years of clinical experience can make a big difference in the quality of the services you receive.
- Cover key topics in detail, such as:
- Expectations about marriage
- Education on common marriage myths
- Conflict Management
- Family/Childhood Influences and Personality styles
The ideal time to do Premarital Counseling is 6-9 months before your wedding date. This allows plenty of time to learn without the process feeling like a stressful to-do just before your big day. If you’ve recently married, or know you just can’t fit it in before your wedding, don’t hesitate to engage in a marriage preparation program after you are married. It is never too late to learn and grow.
I believe so strongly in the power of Premarital Counseling. Not only do I see it reflected in the research, I see it every day in my private practice as a Couples Counselor. Couples who take the time to invest in premarital counseling are way ahead of the game when it comes to creating a marriage that lasts.
Engagement is a fun time in life; it is filled with parties, cake tastings and plans for the future. And included in your planning should be Premarital Counseling. No couple plans to divorce. But likewise, far too few couples actually prepare for their marriage.
Marriage is such a rewarding experience, but don’t go into it blindly thinking love will be enough. Love is hugely important, and knowledge is power. Learn more about yourself, more about your partner and understand the dynamics in your relationship so that you are truly prepared for life’s ultimate adventure…marriage. You will be glad you did!