I’m very excited to announce that I recently became a certified instructor for SYMBIS. SYMBIS stands for Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts. It is an evidenced-based premarital counseling tool developed by authors and therapists Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott.
What is SYMBIS?
SYMBIS is an online tool that allows engaged or newly married couples (or even couples who have been married for a while!) to log on individually and take an assessment. The assessment has many questions about personality, upbringing, attitudes towards money, sex, and much, much more. It then creates a print out with the results. I receive the results and set up a minimum of 6 sessions to go over any strengths, weaknesses, or caution flags that the assessment tool identifies. Together we talk about areas of individual growth or improvement that each person needs to work on. We also discuss what they need to work in within the confines of the relationship.
Why is SYMBIS important?
I’ve loved the idea of SYMBIS since I first heard about it. I really enjoy doing Premarital Counseling with couples, and appreciate that SYMBIS covers so many diverse topics. In a world where the divorce rate is over 50% (and 67% for second marriages), I believe it’s extremely important to invest in your marriage before it starts. SYMBIS is also very beneficial for second marriages and has an additional assessment built-in if this happens to be your situation.
What does SYMBIS cover?
SYMBIS initially covers individual similarities and differences. It explores your individual mindsets as it pertains to marriage. Some people have a very Resolute mindset, meaning they marry for life and do not believe in divorce. Others may have more of a Romantic mindset, meaning they believe in soulmates and happily ever after’s. Others may have a more Rational mindset, which means they approach marriage logically and believe it is hard work. There are also a few other mindsets that an individual could possibly have. Your mindset towards marriage is very important because it sets the tone for expectations moving forward.
SYMBIS also explores each individual’s emotional well-being. It’s important to address any baggage that each person may bring into the marriage. The SYMBIS tool has the ability to detect childhood issues, mental health issues, and other issues between the couple. It allows space for discussion about how these issues will impact the marriage long-term.
SYMBIS will assess for any conflict within family of origin or in-law situations. It allows each person to process and discuss the importance of social support. It identifies any future conflict that may happen when you blend two people from two different backgrounds.
One of my favorite parts about SYMBIS is the financial assessment. The tool is able to identify each individual’s attitude towards money and finance. One of the big questions is, are you a saver or a spender? Typically in a marriage, there is one of each. This can obviously create some conflict. The SYMBIS assessment goes over debt, security, and allows the couple to discuss their financial dreams and goals.
SYMBIS also assesses for individual expectations as far as household duties are concerned. It discusses who was responsible in each person’s family of origin, and what they expect in their own marriage. It’s interesting to see that many couples have not discussed this aspect of marriage, which often can create a lot of disagreements and conflict.
If this is the second marriage for either person, SYMBIS has an additional assessment for remarriage readiness. It allows for discussion about blending a family and what concerns each individual has. It also assesses for the attitude towards remarriage and identifies any baggage you may be carrying from your first marriage.
There are 8 types of personality types when you become a spouse: Achieving, Pioneering, Energizing, Affirming, Cooperating, Unwavering, Deliberating, and Analyzing. SYMBIS assesses which personality each spouse fits, and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each personality type. It also provides information as to how the different personality types interact with one another. An individual’s personality type impacts many things, including how you both show and receive love.
Personality types also impact how you view intimacy and sex. SYMBIS is able to decipher any sexual issues that may occur. A couple’s attitude towards sex and each of their individual expectations are incredibly important topics to process before marriage. The assessment tool is powerful in helping couples prepare for a life of intimacy together.
SYMBIS can also predict resiliency in each individual person. It encourages couples to discuss how they individually approach challenges and identifies potential problem areas. This allows the couple to focus on what each of them individually brings to the relationship in terms of resiliency. It also identifies problems areas for each individual when they are under stress.
The assessment really hones in on communication styles, and how those styles impact conflict. The print-out has examples of what each individual does well as far as communication goes, and what they also need to work on. It identifies “hot spots”—certain topics that may be high conflict based on the information the couple provided. These “hot spots” can be sex, money, communication, children, chores, etc.
SYMBIS discusses the gender roles, and how that can play into emotional needs being different. It gives tips to each spouse to encourage them to connect emotionally in the way their partner prefers. It gives a glimpse into how meeting your spouse’s needs can be talked about in a constructive way.
Finally, the SYMBIS assessment also integrates faith and spirituality if that is something important to the couple. It allows couples to identify what aspects of faith are important for each of them and creates discussion as to how to integrate those. It helps couples understand how their needs and personalities also contribute to spiritual practices within marriage.
If you are interested in learning more about SYMBIS, click here for more information.
If you are interested in participating in SYMBIS, click here to set up an appointment.
Written by Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW
*Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Journey to Joy Counseling. Christy enjoys doing marriage/couples counseling, individual counseling, premarital counseling. She also provides family counseling, teen and adolescent counseling.