In all that you and your partner do to prepare for your wedding, make sure you also prepare for your life to come—the marriage you will build together.
In my work with couples, I see many surprises that could have been avoided had they been discussed prior to getting married. The good news is that premarital education and counseling can offer assistance in doing so. Research shows that couples who had completed some form of premarital counseling:
- Had a 30 percent increase in marital satisfaction compared with those who hadn’t undergone such counseling.
- Had a 31 percent decrease in the odds of divorce, significantly happier marriages, less conflict and greater commitment. (Stanley et. al. 2006)
- Were more positive about seeking future support if needed.
Predicting a satisfying marriage
According to the AAMFT (American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy), research has found three major factors that predict future marital satisfaction.
- Individual traits: These include an individual’s personality traits and emotional health, as well as values, attitudes and beliefs.
- Couple traits: These include couple communication and conflict resolution skills, degree of acquaintance and similarity of values and goals around such practical topics as financial management, sexuality, parenting, spirituality, etc.
- Personal and relationship contexts: These include family background characteristics such as previous marriages, existing children, the quality of an individual’s parents’ marriage, family relationship quality, age at marriage, and parents’ and friends’ approval of the relationship.
Assessing yourself and your relationship
Knowing and understanding the premarital factors discussed above can be accomplished most effectively and easily by completing a comprehensive premarital assessment questionnaire, such as the Premarital Preparation and Relationship Enhancement (PREPARE) and interpreting the results with your partner.
This questionnaire can be completed in about an hour and can provide you and your partner with a detailed written report about individual traits, couple traits, and strengths and weaknesses in each area. PREPARE is used with the assistance of a premarital counselor or clergy person trained in using these instruments.
The aim is to encourage awareness and couples’ discussion of readiness for marriage, and goals that should be met before marrying. This is important to do because weaknesses that exist before marriage and are unknown or ignored usually develop into bigger problems after marriage.
It makes sense to be strategic and cover your bases by having these discussions before marriage.
Premarital counseling is an opportunity for couples to be intentionally curious, build deep intimacy and develop confidence!
I look forward to celebrating this next step with you!