Planning for your wedding is an exciting (but also stressful!) event, but even more important is planning for the years of marriage ahead. We consider premarital counselling an essential part of getting your relationship started off on the right foot as you look forward to your life together. For over 40 years of practice and 38 years of marriage I have been passionately and successfully helping couples prepare for a positive "forever" marriage experience.
What is premarital counselling?
Premarital counselling typically involves a series of weekly sessions designed to help a couple gain personal insight and develop tools, skills and attitudes that form the foundation for a strong marriage. This can either be a complete pre-marriage course or as a more in-depth professional resource in addition to your church pre-marriage course.
Should we still seek premarital counselling even if we feel happy about our relationship?
Yes, absolutely! You don't have to be experiencing problems in your relationship in order to need or benefit from premarital counselling. This is an invaluable service and resource for every couple considering marriage.
When two people join their lives together, they create a unique set of strengths and potential challenges that will have an impact on their relationship to potentially follow them throughout their lives. Marriage is literally two people coming together to become one, coming from very different backgrounds, upbringings and experiences. These differences in expectations, feelings, morals, attitudes and standards often trigger negative emotions and create conflict.
The purpose of premarital counselling is to help couples gain greater insight and awareness of all the issues involved in a healthy, interpersonal relationship so they can prepare for and find ways of dealing with them to build a foundation for a very strong and happy marriage together.
What happens in Premarital Counselling?
We start with an initial session. The purpose of this initial session (about 1.5 hours) is an assessment to review your goals as a couple, your relationship history and the story of how you met. Many couples enjoy the opportunity to talk about their strengths and what they find attractive about each other. We also ask about challenges and any perpetual issues that surface and how you have dealt with these challenges as a couple.
Prior to the first session, the couple complete an on-line relationship inventory The RELATE Questionnaire (see below) to help pinpoint areas of strength and challenges in their relationship. The results are submitted before the first session.
We then discuss if there are areas in the relationship that need extra work, possible counselling approaches and assess your comfort level with future sessions.
This is also a time for me to assess if I can be effective in working with you as a couple. Â In most instances I will be able to estimate the number of sessions required (average 6 to 12) and answer any other questions that you may have.
Premarital sessions will be tailored to your particular situation and goals, with attention to any areas of concern that emerge in the first interview and in the RELATE results.
Pre-marital topics include:
- Fulfilling expectations, needs and goals in your marriage
- What is love? What is the basis of your marriage?
- The application of your personal "love languages"
- Conflict resolution and dealing with anger
- How to handle "triggered emotions", anxiety and stress and understanding why some issues seem so emotionally impacting
- Personality differences
- Roles, responsibilities and decision making
- Financial management
- Sexual issues and expectations
- Marriage satisfaction
- Leisure activities
- Children and parenting
- Family and friends
- Spiritual life together – your beliefs and their role in your marriage
- Family of origin closeness
- Couple closeness and intimacy
- Family of origin flexibility
- Couple flexibility
There are many inventories that can be helpful as assessment tools. A few commonly used inventories include:
- Perpetual problems inventory (Dr. Ray & the Gottman Institute)
- fundamental personality differences that create conflict
- fundamental differences in your lifestyle needs and goals
- The RELATE Questionnaire – The RELATE Questionnaire is a self-administered pre-marital questionnaire you can access on your own.Â Print and bring the results to the sessions.
- 5 Love Languages – Gary Chapman
- Myers-Brigs Type Indicators this link is a sample of a free site – more in-depth testing is available for a fee.
- Dr. Daniel Amen Clinic – Couples Questionnaires – The Brain in Love Questionnaires & Checklists helps to evaluate the health and well-being of your thinking processes relative to your relationships.
- SYMBIS Pre-Marital Assessment -Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott – they founded the Center for Relationship Development on the campus of Seattle Pacific University – a groundbreaking program dedicated to teaching the basics of good relationships.
My role as a counsellor is to facilitate open, in-depth discussions between you and your partner within these areas, help you learn tools for communication to create a strong marriage and intimacy and plan ways to deal with any potential relationship challenges.
We strongly recommend a 6 month follow-up session after the wedding and then an annual marriage check-up session thereafter. Being proactive can catch the potentially damaging issues in a relationship before they actually do any real, significant harm. An annual marriage check-up can help maintain a healthy, more satisfying, passionate and exciting marriage.
Can we focus on specific issues without having to go through a set program?
Yes, absolutely! The process described above is ideal for couples who are seeking a comprehensive overview in preparation for their marriage.
We can also provide a comprehensive assessment and then focus on specific issues that should be addressed to have a happy and lasting marriage.
How Can I Book an Appointment?
Just call (604) 461-4612 or e-mail email@example.com. If you wish to schedule an initial session kindly advise your availability – days and times. Appointments are available 9:00 am to 9:00 pm Monday through Thursday and 9:00 am to 2:00 on Fridays.
Thank you very much for your interest in our services. I hope this information has been helpful to you.