When to Start Premarital Counseling

Published on: 25 Oct 2021
Clinically Reviewed by Liz Kelly, LCSW
couple walking holding hands

Planning your wedding is one of the most exciting times of your entire life. Your future is in front of you, and you’re filled with hope and wonder. You’re probably madly in love and can’t wait to start your lives together as an officially married couple. 

With all the planning that goes into the big day, a question that may be on some engaged couple’s minds is when should you start premarital counseling

There’s no official steadfast rule about when to start premarital counseling. While many choose to wait until just a few weeks or months before the wedding, you can’t really start too early. Studies show that couples who go to premarital counseling have a 30% higher rate of success than couples who don’t. 

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the timeline, how to know when to start premarital counseling, and how online premarital therapy with Talkspace can help.

Looking to start your premarital counseling journey today? Sign up here to get ready for your big day!

Premarital Counseling Timeline

Like any type of therapy, there just isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for this kind of couples counseling. Your premarital counseling can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to six months or longer. A lot of factors go into knowing the perfect time for premarital counseling. 

Wondering how long is premarital counseling? Having a clear idea of your goals for premarital therapy can help determine how long your premarital counseling might take. If you have a number of issues to work through, you may need more sessions. That said, there is an average timeline that most people follow when it comes to premarital counseling.

While many think that a few weeks is enough for premarital counseling, in reality you may find that a longer time period is much more beneficial. This specialized couples counseling offers you a way to grow your relationship in the areas that really matter once you reach married life. Communication, trust, respect, and so much more can be addressed to ensure a healthy relationship prior to marriage. You may also want to touch on:

  • Finances
  • Values
  • Sex or intimacy
  • Children
  • Friend groups 
  • Conflicts and resolutions
  • Belief systems 
  • Religious or cultural differences
  • Roles in a healthy relationship
  • Your mutual decision-making process
  • What hobbies you’ll do (both as individuals as well as together)
  • What you’ll spend time doing in your leisure

At the end of the day, how long you’ll need premarital counseling service really just depends on you as a couple. The nature of your relationship and your individual circumstances are going to dictate the time it’ll take for you to get the most out of your sessions. 

“Premarital counseling can go for as long as you want, and as long as your therapist recommends. The average timeline is a few months or more. Typically, we see that couples with more goals start the process about six to twelve months before their wedding date, and others might begin about two to three months in advance. Sessions can be between 45 to 90 minutes every week, or every other week. Creating a plan and a timeline together with your therapist is essential since it can help you reach your goals, and see better, long lasting results.”

Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings LCSW-S

How to Know When to Start Premarital Counseling

So, when should you do premarital counseling? Again, there’s no tried and true answer about when to start. Some people say to start as soon as you get engaged. Others think just a few weeks before the wedding is sufficient. Then, there are those who believe that as soon as you’re even thinking about marriage, you can begin a counseling service. Some people suggest that 3 – 6 months will be enough time if you do around two hours in each session. 

However, if you’re struggling with any of the following issues, it might be a good idea to start your premarital counseling sooner rather than later.   

You don’t communicate well

Communication is an issue in many relationships. Before you get married, it can be helpful to learn how to communicate with each other in a positive, healthy way. Communication exercises for couples are an excellent thing to practice. Premarital sessions can show you ways that your communication skills can improve, and then you can practice the skills you learn. This way, even when you have disagreements (and you will have arguments) you’ll know how to effectively communicate with each other without hurting one another.

You fight about money

It’s been said that money is one of the top things couples fight about. Setting expectations for how you’ll treat money in your marriage — before you get married — is smart. You can discuss all the things that married couples typically fight about. Think: bank accounts, splitting bills, who will work (and how much), financial goals for the future, how you’ll save, and more. Instead of worrying how to talk to your partner about money, you can have a therapist help you bridge that conversation. Premarital counseling is a safe space that keeps emotions in check while you have these tough conversations.

You fight over your families

That old saying when you marry, you marry the family too is true. If you or your partner have family issues, on either side, premarital counseling sessions can give you a roadmap for how to navigate something that — let’s face it — you’ll be dealing with for the rest of your married lives. Families aren’t going anywhere, so you need a plan to deal with them.

“Be prepared before going to your session. Write down the positive and the not-so-positive about the interactions or relationship with your families. Talk to your partner about your views and feelings during the session, using a respectful and caring approach. If your partner avoids some issues, this is a great place to talk through them together. You are in a safe setting, and the therapist will guide both of you to reach your session goals. Do not expect the therapist to side with either one of you, or assume that the questions asked indicate this in any way. Ask questions, offer examples, keeping in mind first and foremost why you are choosing to marry this person. Remember that not all families are perfect. Pick your battles, and with the help of your therapist, remember that we do not have control over how others act, but we do have control over how we feel about it, and how we respond.”

Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings LCSW-S

You have trust issues

Trust can be tricky because it’s a fragile thing that we work hard to earn. Once it’s broken, it can be incredibly hard to rebuild. However, learning how to communicate and focusing on things like trust-building activities can be essential when trying to solve trust issues in your relationship. You can also focus on identifying patterns in your relationship that may be contributing to a lack of trust.

You have cultural and/or religious differences

It can be difficult to overcome religious or cultural differences. It doesn’t have to be impossible, though. Premarital counseling sessions can focus on how to respect and understand each other’s beliefs and practices when it comes to religion or cultural identities. Typically, these issues will require significantly more premarital therapy than some others might. 

You have anxiety about getting married

Many people worry about getting married. Maybe they have a hard time believing in marriage, deal with commitment issues, or perhaps they didn’t grow up with parents who modeled a healthy marriage. There can be a host of reasons why you might have anxiety about marriage. Premarital counseling can help change your perspective.

You (or your partner) have anger issues

If you know that you have anger issues, or if your partner has difficulty dealing with his or her anger, premarital counseling can help both of you understand how to handle conflict in the healthiest way possible. Discovering how to deal with anger can be useful in all areas of life, not just in married life.

You have different opinions about children

Not sure you want to have children? Do you want children but your partner doesn’t? Can’t agree on how many children to have? Marital counseling shows you how to navigate these tough conversations in a safe space, where a couples therapist can mediate the process so you can find a resolution. 

Going into marriage before you agree on important issues like children, money, families, communication, or anything else can lead to a difficult road. Premarital counseling can cover any issues you need to work through with a variety of couples therapy techniques, giving your marriage the best chance to thrive. 

Getting Started with Talkspace

Talkspace can walk you through your premarital counseling journey. Our licensed therapists understand the magnitude of getting the right therapy to prepare for your life together as a married couple. 

Regardless of what issues you want to focus on, or how long you have to complete your premarital counseling, Talkspace makes therapy convenient, affordable, and easy to get. You can do your therapy sessions from the comfort of your own home, during the times and days that work for you. So you can eliminate some of the stress that a lot of people feel when they’re adding one more thing to their wedding planning plate.

Learn more about how Talkspace can help you create a wonderful life with your partner, as you begin your marriage journey, and for decades into the future. Learn about the benefits of couples therapy today.

“According to research, 30% of couples who participate in premarital counseling with a mental health professional have stronger marriages and higher marital satisfaction. Couples who participate in premarital counseling can communicate better and have less difficulty discussing topics like finances and sex.”

Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings LCSW-S

Sources:

1. 20 Significant Premarital Counseling Statistics – HRF. HRF. https://healthresearchfunding.org/20-significant-premarital-counseling-statistics/. Accessed October 2, 2021.

2. Premarital Counseling Builds Better Union. https://www.webmd.com/women/news/20030404/premarital-counseling-builds-better-union . Accessed October 4, 2021.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

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