Why Premarital Counseling Should Be In Your Wedding Budget

premarital counseling

According to a CNN report published in June of 2023, the national average wedding cost was $29,000. Wedding vendors are expected to increase their prices to meet economic demands, causing the overall cost of weddings to rise in 2024. 

If you or someone you know is engaged and preparing for marriage, consider the value premarital counseling can have on the marriage beyond the wedding day. I’m not saying that the other expenses involved in planning a wedding are frivolous—my husband and I don’t regret the things we chose to invest in for our big day. 

What I am saying is that allocating a portion of funds toward premarital counseling is an investment worth making during your engagement season! Premarital counseling is an investment in the marriage itself! 

In today’s blog, I am going to expound on the benefits of premarital counseling and what you can expect from premarital counseling with me. 

Benefits of Premarital Counseling 

Premarital counseling is a valuable resource that offers couples a proactive and constructive approach to preparing for married life. This guided process equips couples with essential knowledge and tools that shape the trajectory of a strong and enduring marriage.

Building a Strong Foundation 

I dated my husband nearly six years before getting married. Six years is a lot of time to learn about someone, especially someone you care deeply about. And yet, even with all that time spent together, we had a lot to learn in those early months of marriage about what our shared life would look like from day-to-day. 

While nothing can fully prepare you for the transition to married life, premarital counseling can lay a great foundation to build upon once married life begins. The aim of premarital counseling is to promote an open dialogue about important marital topics and issues so that your marriage starts with its best foot forward. It is an intentional exploration of who each individual is, what each individual expects, and how each individual’s preferences and personality will interact to shape a unique marriage relationship. 

Having these crucial conversations before the big day is a proactive step. By discussing potential problem areas during your engagement, you are more likely to approach them effectively when they show up in your marriage. 

Family of Origin Dynamics 

Married or not, we all carry influences from our families of origin into our relationships with other people. Even more so, marriages can fall prey to the clashing of unspoken family rules and expectations. It is important for engaged couples to know the unspoken rules that they each bring from their family of origin. 

Consider this hypothetical example. Melanie grew up in a home where emotions were seldom discussed openly. In Melanie’s home it was expected that you deal with emotions like anger, disappointment, and sadness privately. In contrast, Melanie’s fiancé, Michael, came from a home where his parents talked openly with Michael and his siblings about their feelings. (I bet you can guess where this is going.) 

Once Melanie and Michael got married, they noticed that their arguments and frustrations with one another followed a similar pattern. In keeping with her no-show approach to emotions, Melanie worked hard to conceal when she felt annoyed or angry about Michael’s behavior. Rather than talk about her feelings, Melanie would demonstrate her disapproval of Michael’s behavior by withdrawing to be alone. This would leave Michael feeling frustrated and confused. When he would attempt to find out why Melanie had retreated to being alone, the frustration and confusion would only grow when Melanie would aggressively yell “I’m fine!” through the closed door. 

This scenario highlights just one example of how our families of origin influence what we bring into a marriage relationship. Family of origin also shapes our expectations about gender roles, division of domestic responsibilities, views on financial matters, mental health, sex, and more. 

Through premarital counseling couples can explore these dynamics together, learning the unique strengths and potential challenges each individual contributes from their upbringing. 

Values & Beliefs

Core values and beliefs are a critical point of conversation for engaged couples to discuss. Even though our families of origin often inform our values and beliefs, I felt this subject required its own emphasis in the conversation of premarital topics. 

Let’s consider another example scenario. Let’s say Sarah came from a family where a strong emphasis was placed on the pursuit of higher education. Both of her parents held advanced degrees, and academic achievements were celebrated. Sarah internalized these values and developed a deep respect for higher education as a key to success and personal fulfillment. 

On the other hand Sarah’s partner, James, came from a family where skilled vocational training was highly valued. His parents found success and satisfaction in their skilled professions, believing in the importance of hands-on experience in the workforce.

As Sarah and James build their life together, they encounter differences in their attitudes towards education and career paths. Sarah envisions their future children pursuing higher education. James sees the value in practical, hands-on development in a specialized trade. This leads to discussions and potential tensions as they navigate educational and career choices for their family.

Couples need to give special attention to differences in values, attitudes, and beliefs about major aspects of life. You need to consider your attitudes toward education, career aspirations, societal issues, religious beliefs, and cultural influences. 

Disagreements in these major areas don’t automatically qualify a marriage for failure. However, if you never address these differences, they have the potential to cause major disruptions to the marriage later on. 

Premarital Counseling With Me 

In my premarital counseling services, you can expect to discuss all of the above topics and more! I utilize an evidence-based premarital counseling tool called SYMBIS. Developed by therapists Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, the SYMBIS assessment was designed based on their book by the same name Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts

The SYMBIS assessment is a comprehensive questionnaire with topics ranging from personality types to domestic responsibilities to perceptions of time. Check out this blog post for more detailed information about what the SYMBIS assessment covers. 

Individuals complete the assessment online and separate from their partner. Once both individuals complete the assessment, the results are compiled and sent to me as the facilitator. I request that couples plan for a minimum of six sessions to cover all components of the report. This allows us plenty of time to discuss strengths and potential caution areas identified by the assessment. 

Reach Out Today 

If you and your partner believe in the value that premarital counseling can have for the longevity of your marriage, let me give you a practical next step. 

You can click here to schedule premarital counseling today. Upon receipt of your contact information, I will reach out via email with instructions for completing the SYMBIS assessment. I have immediate openings and would love to be part of your preparation for married life! 

Written by Ginger Hanny

*Ginger Hanny, MSW, LSW is a therapist at Journey to Joy Counseling. Ginger enjoys doing individual counseling with adults. She also provides premarital counseling and teen and adolescent counseling.  Journey to Joy Counseling serves the Indianapolis area, including Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.