While it may sound strange to go to therapy with a person you’re only dating, the idea itself is quite brilliant.
Pre engagement therapy acknowledges that asking someone to marry you (or saying yes to someone asking you to marry them!) is a huge decision that shouldn’t be made lightly.
It helps couples structure their relationship in a way that is suitable for a long-lasting, happy marriage.
The advantages of pre-engagement counseling are endless. It allows couples to avoid taking past baggage into an engagement, discusses important family matters before you’ve truly committed to one another, and creates a realistic idea of what a married partnership really means.
Is before marriage counseling for you? Keep reading to find out.
But why should people who aren’t even engaged be hopping into therapy together? Shouldn’t they still be in the throes of puppy love?
Pre-engagement counseling isn’t necessarily for couples who are having problems. It’s for couples who see a serious future together and want to ensure they have all the necessary tools in place to create a marriage that lasts forever.
Many religious couples go through engagement counseling to ready themselves for a serious relationship. Of course, you do not have to be religious to benefit from couple counseling before marriage or engagement.
Engagement therapy can help couples learn proper conflict resolution skills, boost communication efforts, and manage expectations.
Watch this video to learn about how long should you date before getting engaged.
Why pre-engagement counseling is better than pre-marital counseling?
Another great benefit is that there is no real pressure.
If counseling reveals that you that you and your partner aren’t compatible, you don’t have the awkward task of breaking off a public engagement or disappointing family by calling off a wedding. No ‘break the date’ cards to send out.
One of the top reasons why couples attend before marriage counseling is to learn whether they would be a good team.
Compatibility makes for a great partnership. Sure, opposites attract, and opposite opinions can make partners more patient and open-minded. But in some respects, sharing the same ideals and morals will send you into a marriage on the right foot.
Some of the pre engagement counseling questions you’ll be asked during counseling sessions include:
What do commitment and fidelity mean to you? What do you consider cheating?
Do you want children? If so, how many and in what timeframe?
Do you share the same faith? How important is that faith to you?
What will you do to stay committed when your partner lets you down or hurts your feelings?
Where do you plan on living?
What are your future goals?
What is your financial situation? Do you expect your partner to help financially? If you have children, will your partner continue to work, or do they want to stay home and raise the child?
What role does or will family/in-laws play in your life?
What do you want out of an engagement and future marriage?
Many couples ignore incompatibilities because they love each other and perhaps hope their partner will change their mind on key issues one day.
By going through pre-engagement counseling, couples will be brought face to face with qualities and opinions that could make their future marriage stronger – and the ones that may make them an incompatible couple.
It is painful for couples who realize their morals and values are too different to go forward, but before marriage counseling allows them to discover these things privately and without a wedding to call off.
Boundaries are a wonderful thing in relationships. They tell spouses where each other’s limits are and help them to be more understanding and respectful partners.
During engagement therapy, couples will be able to talk about their sexual, physical, emotional, and even time-related boundaries (“I want to be married/have a baby/live in Alaska by the time I’m X years old.”)
Doing couple counseling before marriage is a great time to bring up your boundaries. Your counselor can help you navigate this important topic without you feeling awkward or overbearing by bringing up these important needs.
Some examples of unrealistic expectations include:
Having passionate sex every day for the rest of your life
Believing your spouse will never change
Thinking all your time should be spent together
Thinking that your partner will fix or complete you
Realistic expectations debunk these myths and remind couples that marriage shouldn’t be hard, but it won’t always be easy, either.
Having realistic expectations about household chores, social lives outside of the marriage, and always working toward keeping sex and intimacy burning will help couples have a happier relationship.
5. Learn to communicate
Communication is the cornerstone of any good relationship.
During engagement therapy, couples will learn how to communicate effectively, which includes learning how to fight fair, compromise, and listen.
Without good communication skills, couples may become emotionally distant or fall back on methods that hurt their marriage (such as freezing a partner out or reacting emotionally and saying hurtful things during an argument.)
In before marriage counseling, couples will learn how to come together and tackle a problem as a team.
Just engaged or contemplating marriage? Discover how to transition smoothly into the next phase of your relationship with Marriage.com's Pre-Marriage Course. Begin your incredible journey with this guide designed by experts and lay a strong foundation for your path of togetherness - forever!
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.