Premarital counseling/education takes approximately 6 sessions, but you can attend as many or as few as you choose.
Premarital counseling/education is designed to help couples build a strong foundation and equip them for a lasting, nurturing partnership in which they can grow and thrive together. When a marriage is in trouble, it is often due to years of compounded resentment that could have been prevented with the right communication and conflict resolution skills. While it is true that premarital couples are generally happy with their current relationship, it is important to identify any weaknesses that could grow into bigger problems in the future if they are not addressed. The process of premarital counseling/education will help you discuss important issues such as finances and goals you each have for you as a couple and for yourselves as individuals.
Clergy will often ask couples to complete premarital counseling with a licensed therapist prior to the wedding date. Additionally, the content of my premarital counseling/education meets the state of Georgia requirements set forth in Code 1981, Title 19 (Domestic Relations), Chapter 3 (Marriage Generally), Article 2 (License and Ceremony), Section 19-3-30.1. Premarital education. The Code stipulates at least six hours of instruction to be completed in order for the marriage license application fee to be waived.
A typical six-session program consists of (a) a relationship history interview, (b) a comprehensive online assessment, and (c) feedback sessions. If there are specific concerns you may have before marriage, it may be helpful to have additional sessions. This decision is up to the couple.
A. Relationship History Interview. Commitment to building a life together is not the same as dating. You may each have goals and expectations for this new phase of your relationship that you haven’t shared with your Partner or haven’t even acknowledged to yourself. In addition, each Partner brings into this commitment an already formed adult personality, the dynamics witnessed in respective families of origin, as well as a myriad of life experiences, including perhaps prior marriages. Together we will consider these topics to determine possible challenges or areas of the relationship that need special attention in order for you to successfully incorporate two individual journeys into a long-lasting partnership.
B. Online Assessment. Prepare/Enrich (P/E) is one of the most versatile and customizable online assessments. Once both partners have completed the questionnaire, a comprehensive report is generated with graphs and detailed analyses of multiple scales that are customized for the couple’s unique characteristics.
C. Feedback. All P/E inventories measure satisfaction in categories such as Relationship Dynamics, Family & Friends, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Financial Management, Leisure Activities, Spiritual Beliefs, Partner Character Traits, and Relationship Expectations. Partners also receive a Personal Stress profile, a Family Map that explores the dynamics within the family of origin, and a Personality Scales assessment based on the Five Factor Model of Personality (the most widely accepted trait theory of personality). In addition to these standard categories, the assessment generates questions from over 30 customized categories, including previous marriages, step-parenting, current living arrangements, impending parenthood, and intergenerational issues for middle-aged couples.
During feedback sessions, we will go over the strength and growth areas indicated in the report, focus on any sections that need extra attention, and get each partner’s input on the results.
Practical Tools to Learn and Keep
As the final part of your premarital counseling/education, you will be given full-color handouts that you can refer to in the future on over a dozen subjects including assertive communication; active listening; compassionate conflict management; personality differences and gridlock; effective processing of past arguments and repairing of emotional wounds; compromise and problem-solving; parenting; financial management; personal, couple, and family goal-setting. You will even receive a handout with over 70 scripted phrases you can use to de-escalate arguments. These are research-based materials from Prepare/Enrich as well as from the Gottman Institute. The Gottman Method Couples Therapy was created by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, world-renowned pioneers in relationship science and recipients of numerous awards.