Premarital counselling: How to make it more than just a task on the wedding to-do list

Do you feel like you only have one shot to set up couples for a successful marriage?
You’ve got 4 one-hour sessions to prepare this couple for a lifetime—and, go! That can feel like a lot of pressure and responsibility—where do we begin?

Luckily, premarital counseling doesn’t have to be a one-and-done situation. Think of it more as planting a seed: you prepare the soil and give it water, sunlight, and fertiliser to provide it with the best chance to thrive. But the plant will continue to require care and nurturing to grow to its full potential.

You may be in a situation where you’ll be able to provide guidance and support to the couple for years to come. Or you may be in a situation in which you won’t see the couple again once their sessions or the wedding is over. Either way, here are some ways to turn premarital counseling into an ongoing experience of growth for couples:

  • Be the driver of a meaningful experience. Most couples do not seek out premarital counselling on their own; they do it because they are required to. And that means that you have the ability to make the experience one that will stick with them long after the big day, instead of just another hoop to jump through. Your mindset matters! Couples will often take your cue on how to think about premarital counseling, so it’s important that you’re invested in the experience, too.
  • Point them to your favorite marriage resources such as books, podcasts, assessments, etc. so they can continue growing in their relationship on their own.
  • Have them form an ongoing relationship with a “mentor couple” — a couple whose relationship they consider a “role model” for their own.
  • Connect them to a community, such as other engaged or newly-married couples at their church or through your organisation.
  • Emphasise that relationship growth is an ongoing process, one that will hopefully continue throughout couple’s life together. “Perfection” is not the end destination in marriage. Encourage them to return to you or another counsellor in a year or two to reassess their relationship and see how they’ve grown. Things that were once growth areas may now be areas of strength, or they may find that new issues have arisen.
  • Keep practicing what they have learnt. Encourage couples to practice the techniques over and over until they become second nature.

More tips next week…

Do you need help with an issue or problem? Our approach helps to generate deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations can restore insight and understanding about one another.

Tune in for more tips next week… or contact me Shane Smith or @

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