cardinal point counseling
Cardinal Point Counseling

Pre-marriage Counseling

Transform your life!

The Problem with Getting Married Without Prior Counseling

While skipping pre marriage counseling won't necessarily doom your marriage, there are some potential downsides to consider. First, couples might enter marriage with unrealistic ideas about happiness. Counseling helps discuss how they'll handle conflict, finances, and chores, thereby managing expectations from the outset. Additionally, some couples shy away from tough topics like in-laws, finances, or past relationships. A neutral counselor can create a safe space to bring up these potentially volatile subjects. In other words, counseling provides a platform for open and honest communication, which can be difficult to achieve on your own. Furthermore, counseling teaches communication skills for navigating disagreements. Without them, couples might fall into patterns of yelling, withdrawing, or stonewalling. Consequently, unresolved conflict can build resentment and erode the foundation of a relationship. Even more importantly, we all have emotional baggage from past experiences. Counseling can help identify these and develop healthy coping mechanisms to avoid letting them impact the marriage. Unaddressed baggage can lead to unhealthy dynamics and misunderstandings down the line. Finally, partners might have different ideas about what marriage entails. Counseling helps surface these differences and find common ground. Through open communication, couples can establish healthy expectations and navigate potential challenges together. Even seemingly strong relationships can benefit from premarital counseling. It's an investment in your future happiness together.

It's Normal for Couples to Skip this Step

Marriage on yacht

It’s Okay to Feel Hesitant: Why Couples Skip Premarital Counseling (and Why They Shouldn’t)

Planning a wedding can be a whirlwind. Between venue hunting, guest lists, and cake tastings, it’s easy to see why premarital counseling might fall by the wayside. In fact, many couples skip this step entirely, and that’s perfectly normal. There can be a range of reasons for this, but it’s important to weigh the potential downsides before making a final decision.

One common reason couples avoid counseling is simply feeling overwhelmed.

With so much already on their plates, the thought of adding extra appointments can feel daunting. Busy schedules and tight budgets can also be a factor. After all, weddings can be expensive, and counseling adds another line item to the already hefty price tag.

Beyond logistics, some couples might feel hesitant due to misconceptions. There’s a fear that counseling implies something is wrong with the relationship, or that a therapist will come in and judge them. On the contrary, premarital counseling is a proactive measure to strengthen a good thing. It’s a safe space to discuss important topics and develop communication skills – tools that benefit any relationship, not just those in need of fixing.

Perhaps the biggest reason couples avoid counseling is a simple lack of awareness. Many couples may not know what premarital counseling entails or the potential benefits it offers. They might think it’s just for couples on the brink, not those on the happy path to marriage.

While skipping counseling won’t guarantee problems down the road, it can leave important conversations undiscussed. By taking the time to explore expectations, communication styles, and potential challenges, couples can set themselves up for a happier, healthier marriage. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to pursue counseling is a personal one. But by understanding the potential benefits, couples can make an informed choice about their future together.

Common Pre-Marriage Counseling Goals

Young happy woman on hill with ocean view. Goal achievement and happy well-being life concept

Before marriage, a couple often experiences their peak happiness. The infatuation phase has typically not worn off at this point. So, why would such a couple require counseling? Pre-marriage or engagement counseling typically serves as a preventive measure, helping to maintain the strength of the relationship in the years ahead. Engaged couples should also recognize that relationships go through phases, each with its pros and cons. Unfortunately, many couples mistakenly believe in a fairy-tale ending without acknowledging the effort required. :

 

While particular goals are up to you, some common goals and pre marriage counseling topics include those below:

  • Developing and discussing shared life goals
  • Understanding negative communication patterns and what patterns you have already developed 
  • Learning proven communication strategies
  • Understanding if there are any unmet needs related to each person’s family of origin
  • Discussing potential expected roles related to aspects like gender, age, or career
  • Appreciating your strengths and weaknesses
  • Understanding how cultural differences may impact your marriage
  • Discussing expectations and thoughts regarding sex.
  • Coming to a clear understanding of what would constitute being unfaithful (not as black and white as it used to be)
  • Openly discussing fears
  • Discussing if or how religion or spirituality will factor into your marriage
  • Talking through plans or thoughts about having kids
  • Discussing your future financial goals
  • Communicating and understanding expectations for managing budgets and finances
  • Expectations for how you will spend your time once married (how much with individual friends, mutual friends, together, with family, etc.)
  • Where you plan to live in the short and long term
  • Talking through concerns about having a wedding
  • Discuss what infidelity means to you
  • How will your career goals impact your relationship, and if you have kids, how will they be raised?
  • Many more…
 

Also, check out some of the benefits of secular pre-marriage counseling and Christian pre-marriage counseling.

Common Objections

The following are common objections.

Our Church offers this service; why shouldn't we go there?

That may be the best option for you. Many religious organizations offer or even require some form of counseling through their organization. You may decide this is affordable (or free) and more than sufficient. Religious or Christian premarital counseling may work well for you. On the other hand, you may choose to talk more elsewhere about more secular topics. For example, you may not be comfortable talking about your sex life with the clergy. Your religious counseling may need to be supplemented by a licensed counselor to help you work through associated anxiety. Many religious organizations say they offer "pre-marriage counseling", and while what they offer may be valuable, it's not legal to call it counseling unless they are licensed counselors. Extending your counseling outside a religious organization may also appeal to you to get another perspective

We aren't religious, do you offer purely secular counseling?

We have curriculum from Prepare and Enrich (among others) that can either be Christian-based or secular.

What if we don't want to talk about personal topics like our sex life?

No one has to discuss anything they aren't comfortable sharing. Hopefully, we will develop a healthy therapeutic relationship where no topic related to your marriage feels uncomfortable or off-limits.

Will a male pre marriage counselor take the side of the man?

I try to never take sides, except for the side of the relationship. That said, many men have said they prefer to work with a male premarital counselor.

Do you offer premarital counseling near me?

The office is located right off I-270, near Tuttle Mall in Dublin, Ohio. It is a short drive from Hilliard, Upper Arlington, Worthington, Westerville, New Albany, Powell, or Columbus, Ohio. Telehealth is available for anyone who is in Ohio during the videoconference.

What if we decide we aren't ready for marriage yet?

That doesn't happen often, but it is a possibility. Wouldn't you rather know ahead of time that you perhaps need more time to think things through or want to achieve specific goals first? But, of course, this decision is ultimately up to you, and you won't be pushed either way. However, the question could come up in pre-marriage counseling for you to discuss with your partner.

Where can I find premarital counseling near me?

We have in-person appointments near Columbus, Ohio, near Dublin, Ohio. Telehealth appointments are available anywhere in Ohio.

What if we have more questions?

Contact us. You can also view the site's main frequently asked questions page for more general questions. Also, see the blog about five common premarriage questions.

Why Choose Aaron Engel of Cardinal Point Counseling?

Aaron Engel

Read my bio and see if I sound like a good fit. This website has a wealth of information, but you may also schedule a free 15-minute consultation.

Clients often say I have a calm manner and way about myself that makes them feel safe and puts them at ease. The fact that I have had a successful 17-year marriage doesn’t hurt either.