Family, friends, and your officiant are telling you premarriage counseling is important, and there’s plenty of research to back them up.
Yes, you’re up to your eyeballs in work and wedding planning. But even the happiest couples experience stress and conflict, and it’s essential to learn how to deal with these constructively as you prepare for the wedding and in the years to come.
Today’s couples — with partners managing two careers, often while raising children — face unique challenges. You’re busy people with interesting lives, and as you seek to join together for a lifetime you need the skills to maintain an intimate, mutually nurturing relationship.
Premarriage counseling isn’t a compatibility test or a gauntlet to run. It’s an educational process designed to support your relationship by providing the tools and coaching you’ll need to build a fulfilling life together in the years to come. (Thinking of getting engaged but not sure yet? Pre-commitment counseling can help.)
For over 20 years I’ve been helping couples learn to build and sustain a strong, honest, mutually sustaining marriage. Our work together is specifically tailored to your needs. Engaged couples tell me their premarital counseling time is meaningful and special (I love getting emails with their wedding photos!). Together we agree on goals and I work actively to help you reach them.
What You Learn
You’ll get research-based information on how to:
- Build and maintain a partnership marriage that can respond to changes in your life situation through the years
- Nurture closeness and connection, even though you’re both super busy
- Communicate your feelings and wants with honesty and love
- Handle stress and care for yourselves and each other
- Transform conflict into a creative opportunhity
Premarital topics include how you:
- Share household responsibilities
- Create rituals to nurture and maintain intimacy
- Explore your life experiences with and approaches to money
- Build your support system
- Explore cultural differences and how they can enrich your life together
- Share your idea of home, including family traditions you cherish
- Consider whether you want children, what’s important to you as future parents, and how to prepare
- Manage relationships with extended family and in-laws, including around wedding plans
- Integrate home and work
- Explore your spiritual traditions and values
- Prevent infidelity
- Recognize the predictable pain points over the years of a marriage and set realistic expectations.
Most of all, you can learn to build on your strengths and work as a team to nurture a relationship that will, in turn, nurture the two of you.
Why Private Premarriage Counseling?
As you choose a premarital counselor, it’s important to find someone who helps you feel comfortable and who gets you. Our sessions are totally private and customized to meet your needs; this is not a class. It’s coaching. I work with talented people who seek to bring their analytical skills, heart, and creativity to the art of building a life together.
I am a member of Marriage Friendly Therapists, an advanced practitioner network featured in USA Today, National Public Radio, and the Harvard Mental Health Letter. The network is listed as a resource by the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network, funded by the federal government, for couples who need marriage counseling. Here’s what they wrote: “The National Registry of Marriage Friendly Therapists was developed to help marriages by linking couples with the most highly qualified therapists in the country.”
If your officiant is a clergyperson, she or he is likely to offer premarital counseling as part of wedding preparation. But if yours is a destination or hometown wedding and your officiant is not convenient to NYC, at your request I can provide a letter confirming that you have completed premarital preparation with me.
Watch me on Fox 5 NY talking about how to avoid a common pitfall that derails many marriages after only two years.
How Many Premarital Meetings?
1. 3 to 5 private sessions for you and your fiance in my quiet, convenient midtown Manhattan or northern Westchester office. Depending on your schedule and preferences, you can arrange for a series of 60-minute sessions, or 2 longer sessions. Or you can schedule one session at a time.
2. A detailed online premarital test to help you recognize strengths and growth areas and a written evaluation of how your life experience and personal styles are likely to influence your marriage;
3. Research-based information and tools to help you manage conflict, nurture closeness despite time pressures, and balance individuality and connection. You learn skills that will help you communicate honestly and lovingly so that in the future you will avoid getting stuck in destructive patterns. The goal is not to find incompatibility but to shine a light on areas that can be even better. When appropriate, I give you handouts to take home and read or work on together.
4. Email support between sessions when you have questions or concerns and need a response from a trained, experienced professional.
Religious or Cultural Differences?
Through our work together you can gain a better idea of how your families of origin have taught you about marriage — and explore how to bring your own creativity to your relationship. You can learn positive approaches to religious or cultural differences. You can learn to be yourselves while reassuring worried family members now and in the years to come.
As a member of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, I am committed to helping people of all religions and no religion, and to accompanying you along your particular path to meaning-making and community.
Read my advice in the Chicago Tribune on how to deal with religious differences in marriage.
You can arrange for premarriage sessions anytime, but the best time is as soon as you get engaged. That way you can schedule them at your convenience and rely on solid support through all the stress of wedding plans. I do my best, but let’s try to avoid cramming in all your sessions between last-minute dress fittings! To learn more about the premarriage package, fill out this contact form.