A. Congratulations on getting engaged! This is quite an exciting time for the both of you. The next several months will be focused on wedding planning: church, reception, cake, invitations, guest lists and many, many, many more things. Unfortunately, when you say "YES!" most brides- and grooms-to-be get caught up in the wedding planning and not the marriage preparation. Your wedding day is important, but it is not as important as planning for your marriage.
In their book, Counseling Couples in Conflict, Dr. Jim Sells and Mark Yarhouse site a study which found that those couples who participated in premarital counseling had a 30% increased chance of a successful outcome in their marriage. A increase of 30% is pretty significant given that the average rate of divorce today is a little less than 50%. So good premarital counseling gives you a statistical boost toward marital success.
In premarital counseling, you and your fiance will have many goals to accomplish. We generally use a program called Prepare and Enrich by Life Innovations. As an administrator of this assessment, the counselor or pastor must first be certified. This means they have attended specialized training and have learned how to best use the outcomes to help couples.
During your counseling sessions that follow the assessment, you and your counselor will look at all of these areas:
- Explore strength and growth areas
- Strengthen communication skills
- Identify and manage major stressors
- Resolve conflict using the Ten Step Model
- Develop a more balanced relationship
- Explore family of origin issues
- Discuss financial planning and budgeting
- Establish personal, couple and family goals
- Understand and appreciate personality differences*
We of course, highly recommend premarital counseling. I personally know that it can make a major difference in how a couple functions during those first few years of marriage.
The other added benefit of premarital counseling is that you have now built a relationship with a counselor that you can call on if things start to get stressful in your life or marriage. One of the most important tips we give in premarital counseling is to not let an issue get too far or allow too much hurt to build before you seek help. The sooner you come in the better off your marriage will be.
Good luck with the wedding planning and we pray God's peace and grace over your marriage.