How Premarital Counseling Works
The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
Music Credits: Derek Gust, “I Do”
Use Premarital Counseling Strategies to Strengthen Your Relationship
Premarital counseling is so important for couples getting married. It’s a positive, empowering experience that helps you get clarity about the strengths of your relationship and work through potential problems before they become serious relationship issues. Most importantly, going through meaningful, high-quality premarital counseling with a marriage and family therapist teaches you how to keep your relationship strong through thick and thin. While intentionally and proactively cultivating positive aspects of your partnership, instead of trying to fix relationship problems once things are feeling hard. It helps couples feel confident moving forward into marriage (and warms up any cold feet before the wedding), while giving them tools they will use for the rest of their lives.
But did you know that — no matter how long you’ve been with your partner, or whether you’re even getting married — you can still use the principles of great premarital counseling to strengthen your relationship? Couples married for decades can still use empowering, proactive, and productive strategies to make healthy, positive changes to their partnership… and you can too.
On today’s episode of the podcast, I’m speaking with my dear colleague Brenda F., M.A., LMFT. Brenda is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and she teaches our Lifetime of Love Premarital Program. She has provided private premarital counseling services to countless couples over the years, and today she’s here to share some premarital counseling strategies that you can start using in your relationship right now.
If you want to jump right in, tap here to listen to:
- How Premarital Counseling Works on Apple Podcasts
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- How Premarital Counseling Works on YouTube
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You can also follow me (@drlisamariebobby) and Growing Self (@growing_self) on Instagram too, if you’d like to stay on top of all the latest pro-relationship info we have planned for you over the next few months.
Lastly, you can listen to this episode on the player at the bottom of this page, or if you prefer a transcript of the episode we have that for you too (all the way at the bottom).
I had a blast talking to Brenda (she’s as fun as she is smart) and I think you’ll get so much out of this interview. If you have additional premarital counseling questions you are welcome to leave them here for me/us in the comments section and I’ll respond to you ASAP.
Show notes are below — enjoy!
Xoxo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
How Premarital Counseling Works: Podcast Episode Show Notes
Do you want to learn the secret to a long-lasting and happy married life? Then, tune in to this episode to discover some valuable insights into how premarital counseling works, and how you can start using expert premarital counseling strategies in your relationship — no matter how long you’ve been together!
In This Episode with Brenda, You Will…
- Discover the benefits of premarital counseling.
- Learn how premarital counseling can prepare you for married life.
- Identify the common problems in married life and how to face them.
- Find out why conflicts matter.
- Know how to become more proactive and authentic in your relationship.
- Understand the importance of honesty when answering premarital counseling questions.
- Discover how long-term married couples can strengthen their connection.
How Premarital Counseling Works: Episode Highlights
The Problem With Most Premarital Counseling
Often, couples exploring premarital counseling don’t fully understand the value of premarital counseling for the success of their relationship. On top of that, they’re not seeking premarital counseling through a professionally trained couples and family therapist (to no fault of their own, they just don’t know). Typically, when couples begin seeking out premarital counseling, they’re turning to a religious or Christian premarital counseling service that usually consists of a couple of awkward conversations with a priest or pastor. It’s not meaningful and doesn’t teach them the important healthy relationship skills they get in real-deal premarital counseling.
These couples think they’ve done “premarital counseling” but they haven’t, really. It’s not authentic, or meaningful. They wind up getting superficial guidance, trite advice, and general instructions. Basically, an informational pamphlet on “How to be married” (which is not that helpful, let’s face it). Understanding the difference between religious vs. secular premarital counseling can prevent this problem.
The other problem with most premarital counseling is that many couples really do not understand the importance of good premarital counseling. They think that premarital counseling is simply a checkbox to tick off, like renting the tux, or ordering the cake. And when couples don’t address the questions they need to ask before marriage, they’re ill-prepared to weather the storms that come.
The Importance of Premarital Counseling
Premarital counseling helps couples envision and think about what life will be like when they are married. It also allows them to be more mindful and conscious of how they will make their relationship work. When done right, it’s a great marriage preparation course. Other benefits include:
- preparing couples for the challenges of married life
- helping them differentiate normal experiences from problems to deal with
- minimizing the risk of disconnection, separation, and divorce
- normalizing counseling
Moreover, it helps couples catch a problem sooner before it becomes too late to fix. And because it happens when they are in a positive mood, therapy is more successful. As a result, premarital counseling can strengthen the foundations of their marriage. Effective, evidence-based, non-religious counseling can create positive changes in a relationship.
These ideas can help all couples: As couples evolve throughout major life transitions, there are new and important things to discuss productively. We all grow and change as we move into different stages of life. If you’ve been married for a long time, it’s also worth knowing how to discuss the challenges that you face now — as well as the ones that might be coming down the pipeline.
How are you staying connected now? How are you solving problems together now? Are the strategies and systems that worked for you at an earlier stage of your relationship still working now?
These are positive, proactive conversations to have with each other throughout the course of your marriage — not just at the beginning.
The Myth and Truth About Being in a Relationship
People sometimes believe that getting into a relationship is an endgame. So, they stop working on it. They don’t account for the changes that happen, especially when they get engaged. They fail to realize that they have to expand themselves to adapt to their partners. They also have to work on themselves so that they show up better in the relationship.
Also, it’s actually at the beginning of the relationship that couples benefit from counseling. This is because they are still happy and positive. Counselors can help them figure out what makes them feel that way. From here, they learn what they can continuously do to keep their relationship working.
According to Brenda, this helps because “our brains are really good at remembering negative things. They’re not always great at remembering positive things unless you’re conscious about it.”
Premarital counseling helps couples get very clear about their strengths and all the things they love and appreciate about each other. It also helps them create strategies to help each other feel loved, respected, and emotionally connected.
Focusing on these things can be an incredibly powerful way to strengthen your relationship no matter how long you’ve been together.
6 Common Premarital Counseling Topics
There are six plus premarital counseling topics that couples work through during premarital counseling. These include things like:
- Conflict resolution
- Marriage and money
- Sexual intimacy
- Creating agreements
- Maintaining emotional intimacy, and more
Often, it’s only during premarital counseling that couples have deep, productive conversations about how they’re feeling in these different aspects of their relationship and what they could each do to make their partnership feel even stronger and more satisfying.
“Communication is the key to life, regardless of what subject that is,” – Brenda
The key is that, in premarital counseling, couples are talking about these things before they become issues. Although marriage counseling and couples therapy can be extremely effective in helping couples resolve issues…couples are there to talk about the things that aren’t working for them, and that are causing pain.
Premarital counseling is, in contrast, all about discussing important things that we need to be talking about openly but that aren’t necessarily problems or issues. This is a great takeaway for all couples — premarital or not. Figure out a way to talk about important things without it being in the context of a conflict, or argument.
Why Constructive Conflicts Matter
Sometimes, couples are afraid to speak up when things are not okay because they are avoiding conflict. But Brenda shares that “If you don’t have conflict, I think you might have a bad relationship because you’re not letting yourself be seen.” She also discusses that not only is it okay to have conflict, but it is normal.
The important thing is to learn how to bounce back when these things happen. You have to know how to become happier partners in your relationship despite the conflict. You must also learn how to express that you still love and care for each other.
Remember that conflict is simply an opportunity for couples to have a deeper and more authentic understanding of one another.
Why Are Some People Afraid of Going to Premarital Counseling?
While premarital counseling is good for marriage, not everyone does it happily. Some couples even dutifully attend a couple of premarital counseling sessions to check the box, but avoid talking about meaningful things with their premarital counselor. It is because these people fear that when they discuss these future problems, they are “rocking the boat” and creating problems where none exist.
As Brenda puts it, “Couples who talk about sex have better sex lives. Couples who talk about their finances are more successful. And couples who talk about their conflict learn how to get through it.”
It’s easy for couples to avoid talking about important things proactively. Premarital counseling teaches couples how to be brave and talk about their real feelings from the start. All couples can learn from this wisdom though: What have you been avoiding discussing in your relationship, and how can you be brave and authentic in order to have necessary conversations with your partner in a positive and productive way?
What Pre-Marriage Counselors Want for Soon-to-be-Married Couples
Pre-marriage counselors help soon-to-wed couples prepare themselves for their future. The counselors want them to learn that conflict is not about playing the blame game. Instead, it is about how you can compromise to stay connected with your partner. This is just one of the many pieces of advice premarital counselors give to soon-to-be-married couples.
Ultimately, premarital counselors want couples to learn how to enrich themselves. It begins with acknowledging that you and your partner are both growing and evolving humans with feelings and quirks that are unique. How do you love, respect, and appreciate each other for who you truly are? Pre-marriage counseling is also only the beginning of this conversation. Talking about each of your feelings, values, goals, hopes, and dreams should be something happening throughout your relationship — especially as you both continue to grow and evolve.
Advice for Married Couples
Brenda believes that the concepts learned in premarital counseling still apply to married couples. She also adds that it is crucial to have an openness to learning when it comes to relationships. You also have to constantly be intentional in improving or maintaining your connection.
Long-term married couples can still attend premarital counseling courses. In doing so, they learn how to make their relationships work better. Healthy and happy couples are ones that are proactive. They put the effort into educating themselves and growing together.
Brenda also adds that most of the time, when people say their relationship is getting boring, that’s not truly the case. What is happening is you are not allowing yourself to grow. And you have to do that and bring it to the relationship to make it better.
Premarital Counseling Resources
The info shared in this podcast is just the beginning. If you’re interested in learning more about premarital counseling here are a few links to learn more about:
- Our Lifetime of Love Premarital Counseling Class.
- Our I Do: The Premarital Counseling Program.
- You can also check out our Private Premarital Counseling.
- Interested in preparing yourself for married life? Check out these free Premarital Counseling Questions!
- Free relationship quiz: How healthy is your relationship?
Enjoy the Podcast?
Did you enjoy the podcast? Do you think you need to try pre-marriage counseling with your partner? How will neglecting counseling affect married life? Share your insights and questions — we want to hear from you!
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How Premarital Counseling Works
The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
Music Credits: Derek Gust, “I Do”
Free, Expert Advice — For You.
Subscribe To The Love, Happiness, and Success Podcast
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
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