Should You Go to Couples Therapy Before Marriage? Knowing the Benefits

Medically reviewed by: Erica Munro, MSc
Wednesday, June 26

You and your fiance are busy with wedding planning and looking forward to your big day. But you may want to consider setting aside some time for couples therapy. You might assume that this kind of therapy is for those who are already married or those who are having lots of problems in their relationship. 

But couples therapy before marriage (also sometimes called premarital counseling) may be incredibly helpful for both of you. It gives you a great opportunity to build skills that are needed for a strong and healthy marriage — among other benefits.

We’ll explore couples therapy before marriage in more detail below, including its benefits and potential topics to discuss. 

When is the right time for couples therapy?

There really isn’t a wrong time for this kind of therapy. Of course, couples who need help resolving issues or conflicts may benefit from couples therapy. However, you don’t have to wait until you and your significant other are having problems to meet with a couples therapist or counselor. 

Attending couples therapy sessions prior to getting married can help set the stage for a fulfilling and lasting relationship. Every couple has a unique relationship that may come with certain challenges or conflicts. Couples counseling before marriage allows you to address these before they turn into bigger issues. 

The benefits of couples therapy before marriage 

Going through couples therapy before your big day arrives can help you and your fiance start your marriage off on the right foot. You’ll have a better idea of what it takes to maintain a healthy relationship over the years. You’ll also have a chance to grow even closer together before tying the knot. 

In the following sections, we’ll go over some of the main benefits of premarital counseling. 

Improving communication

Being able to communicate honestly and openly is a key part of a healthy marriage. But some couples might struggle with this. Communication problems may result in misunderstandings that create emotional distance between you and your partner. 

You may not always see eye-to-eye, but how do you handle these discussions? Premarital counseling helps both of you learn effective skills that allow you to communicate in an honest and open way. This may help reduce conflict in your marriage and help you both understand and respect each other. 

Improving conflict resolution 

Many marriages have conflicts. You may not be able to avoid these situations, but you can learn effective ways to resolve them with couples therapy. During your sessions, you and your fiance learn and practice conflict resolution techniques for handling disagreements in a constructive and healthy way with a therapist’s support. 

You might learn how to express your thoughts and feelings in a way that doesn’t place blame on your partner. Instead, you both focus on sharing what you’re feeling and thinking about a conflict in a direct yet respectful way. You also work on coming up with a solution to the issue together. 

Setting realistic expectations 

What do you expect from your marriage? What does your partner expect? Discussing these expectations in premarital counseling sessions helps ensure that they’re realistic. Having unrealistic expectations about your marriage could lead to frustration and increase conflicts. Although it’s nice to think about, it’s unrealistic to expect married life to always run smoothly and never present any challenges. 

Going over expectations also allows you both to clarify roles and responsibilities within your marriage. You might discuss household tasks, financial responsibilities, and other aspects of married life during your sessions. 

Strengthening emotional connection

Having emotional intimacy is an important part of a healthy marriage. You and your partner may already feel a strong emotional connection. But premarital counseling can deepen this connection even more, strengthening your bond. 

Couples therapy helps both of you understand one another better. This helps build mutual empathy, which may make it easier to respect differences, handle disagreements, and appreciate each other as unique individuals. 

Identifying and addressing potential issues 

Are you and your fiance on the same page when it comes to whether or not you’ll have children and how you’ll raise them? Do you share the same values and beliefs? These are just a couple of examples of the kinds of issues couples may face in married life. 

Premarital counseling offers a great way to identify and address potential issues that could affect your marriage. During your sessions, you’ll be able to identify areas of conflict or differences that need to be addressed. 

You’ll also develop proactive strategies to address these potential issues, which helps reduce the risk of them turning into major sources of conflict after you’re married. 

Fostering personal growth and self-awareness 

Couples therapy doesn’t just focus on you and your partner as a couple. It also gives you a chance to gain insights into your own behaviors in order to grow as a person and become more self-aware. Learning more about yourself helps you understand how your behaviors may affect your relationship. 

Let’s say you have trouble being direct or assertive when communicating. Couples therapy might help you understand why you struggle with this and provide you with ways to improve your communication skills. 

What topics are covered in premarital counseling?

Premarital counseling can cover a wide range of topics. Keep in mind that this kind of counseling is highly personal and unique: You and your partner have your own needs and goals as a couple that differ from your parents or friends. There may even be certain areas or aspects of your relationship that you want to work on strengthening that aren’t included in the following sections. 

Reaching out to a mental health professional for couples therapy allows you to address any unique or specific issues you and your loved one want to work on. Below, we’ll go over some of the general topics that are covered in premarital counseling. 

Communication skills

Premarital counseling helps you and your fiance develop effective communication skills. Having these skills may help reduce conflicts and encourage honesty and respect in your marriage. 

Several techniques are used to help couples build communication skills during couples therapy. You might practice active listening, which involves learning to listen attentively to each other. Or you might use clarifying statements or “I” statements when expressing your thoughts and feelings. 

You might also learn to pay attention to nonverbal communication, such as body language, in order to understand each other better. These different techniques are aimed at helping couples improve how they communicate. 

Conflict resolution 

You can’t always avoid conflict in marriage. But you can work on developing strategies for resolving these issues in an adaptive manner that helps build respect and trust rather than resentment. 

Premarital counseling helps you and your partner learn effective ways to handle conflicts with problem-solving skills and other strategies. You might focus on learning to discuss these issues in a calm and respectful manner. Or you might learn how to compromise on an issue or step away for a bit and discuss it when you’re both calmer. 

Financial management 

Finances can be a major source of stress and conflict for some married couples. Premarital counseling gives you an opportunity to discuss financial issues and topics before walking down the aisle. 

During your counseling sessions, you can discuss how you’ll handle budgeting in married life. Or you might talk about managing debt, especially if one or both of you have debt from student loans, medical bills, or other sources. 

You might also discuss setting financial goals as a couple, such as saving a certain amount per year or saving up for a big purchase. Are you planning to save up for a downpayment on a house? Premarital counseling allows you to discuss finances and timelines for these major purchases before becoming a married couple. 

Roles and responsibilities 

You and your partner both have your own strengths and weaknesses that might affect your roles and responsibilities as a married couple. Working these out ahead of time may help lower the risk of conflict once you’re married. Premarital counseling helps you define and agree on roles and responsibilities within your relationship.

Let’s say you’re great at handling money. Your roles and responsibilities might include managing the household finances, setting up bill payments between the two of you, and coordinating savings for big purchases or retirement. 

Expectations and values 

Premarital counseling allows you and your fiance to discuss and set expectations for your marriage. It also gives you both a chance to share your core values. These are important parts of building a harmonious relationship in your married life. 

Examples of core values you might hold include respect, honesty, and trust. Talking about the values that are important to each of you helps you understand each other more and set realistic expectations for your marriage. 

Intimacy and sexuality 

Maintaining intimacy, including emotional and physical intimacy, is an essential part of a lasting relationship. Premarital counseling may help you understand how important intimacy is in your marriage. You can also discuss any issues that may affect this aspect of your relationship. 

Couples therapy before marriage also gives you the opportunity to discuss sexual expectations. For example, you might learn to expect sexual desire to fluctuate over the years and how to handle these changes as they occur. 

Family dynamics 

Your relationships with your family members may impact your relationship with your soon-to-be spouse. Likewise, their family dynamics may also affect things. Premarital counseling helps both of you discuss and understand these family dynamics and their possible effects on your life together as a married couple. 

Couples counselors can support you and your partner as you learn to navigate relationships with extended family members. It’s also a good opportunity to discuss parenting philosophies and other parenting topics if you plan on having children.   

Cultural and religious beliefs 

Do you and your partner have different religious beliefs? Do you come from different cultural backgrounds? Respecting and integrating cultural and religious beliefs and practices is an important part of marriage. 

Premarital counseling can help you learn to appreciate these differences and figure out ways to honor and respect them. If you plan on having children, these discussions may help you reach an agreement on how you’ll raise them based on religious and cultural beliefs and practices. 

What is the cost of premarital counseling?

Premarital counseling can vary widely in terms of how much it costs based on factors like how many sessions you do and whether you find a couples therapist to meet with in person or do online therapy. 

The average cost of pre-marriage counseling typically ranges from $125 to $175 or more per session. Keep in mind that insurance companies may not cover this kind of counseling, so budget accordingly. 

At SonderMind, many therapists are in-network with most major healthcare insurance plans. This includes some EAP, FSA, HSA, Medicare, and Medicare Advantage plans. Accepting most insurance plans helps keep SonderMind’s therapy affordable for many clients. 

SonderMind also offers self-pay rates if you don’t have insurance. These rates vary by state and by type and length, such as intake sessions, 60-minute sessions, 45-minute sessions, and 30-minute sessions.

Start couples therapy with SonderMind 

With the many benefits that premarital counseling services offer, it’s a smart idea to go through this type of therapy before making a lifelong commitment to each other. Remember that you and your partner can discuss specific issues or address unique needs as a couple with a licensed marriage and family therapist or counselor. 

A therapy platform like SonderMind can connect you with a therapist to help you and your soon-to-be spouse strengthen your relationship before tying the knot. With SonderMind, you can access online or in-person therapy personalized to help you meet your therapeutic goals.

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