Should engaged couples go to counseling? There is no answer that can apply to every couple, but there are ways that couples can determine if they should consider counseling even before they get engaged.
Determining Should Engaged Couples go to Counseling
There are many reasons why engaged couples may want to consider counseling, and it is important to realize that attending counseling sessions does not indicate a bad relationship. In fact, the willingness to work through problems or discuss different issues that will affect their marriage shows the level of commitment the couple shares and can help strengthen their bond even before they walk down the aisle. Counseling can also help couples decide if they are ready to get engaged, and it can help them discuss concerns they may not have considered before.
While relationship and premarital counseling is advisable for every engaged couple, couples who face more serious issues may especially want to consider counseling or therapy. Couples who may be particularly in need of counseling include:
- Very young couples. There is no right age to get engaged for every couple, but very young couples with fewer adult and relationship experiences may want to attend counseling to ensure they are ready for a lifelong commitment.
- Couples of different faiths. Attending specialized counseling can help couples bring their faiths together into a wonderful spiritual relationship to nourish their marriage.
- Couples with abusive pasts or abusive family histories. Even if the abuse was finished long before the couple met, understanding that background and working through the old emotions can help couples understand one another and how to be supportive. Note: If couples have experienced abuse in their own relationship, they should seek extensive counseling before they get engaged to ensure their issues are resolved and they can move on without abusing one another.
- Couples with special life circumstances. Emotional disorders, medical concerns, long distance engagements, and other special circumstances can be challenging, and counseling can help couples celebrate their engagement without letting these circumstances be obstacles to their happiness. Other types of counseling are available for even more specialized concerns, such as finances, self esteem, substance abuse, and other issues that could be reflected in the couple's relationship.
Types of Couples Counseling
There are several types of counseling available to engaged couples, from basic premarital counseling to specialized sessions that can help them overcome any issues in their relationship.
Premarital counseling may be required by law in some states or by the couple's religion. These two types of premarital counseling can be very different, but they are both valuable for couples planning a life together.
- Secular Premarital Counseling: If couples must attend counseling by law, the sessions typically include basic advice on family planning, finances, communication, the legal definition and responsibilities of marriage, and other issues valuable to engaged couples. In some states that require counseling, couples may be able to avoid the requirement if they have been previously married or if their wedding is scheduled after a certain waiting period.
- Religious Premarital Counseling: Faith-based counseling may be required by different churches in order to have an authorized clergy perform the marriage ceremony. Counseling sessions often include discussions of the role of faith in marriage, the responsibilities of married couples, the importance of communication with one another and with God, and how to seek assistance from the church to resolve conflicts.
Several types of therapy counseling can be valuable to engaged couples if the issues addressed directly impact their relationship.
- Substance Abuse: This type of counseling may be for individuals who have abused drugs and alcohol or for their significant others. Ways to stay clean, how to deal with the consequences, and other issues are often highlighted in supportive ways.
- Medical Counseling: If one person in the couple suffers from a physical condition, disease, or disability that requires therapy or specialized care, the couple can attend counseling sessions to learn how to cope with the condition and how to work together as a loving, supportive couple.
- Emotional Counseling: Family abuse, estrangement, bereavement, and other issues can lead to emotional problems that may require counseling. If a couple attends this type of counseling together, they can help one another overcome these issues to lead a happy, fulfilled life.
Other specialized counseling that can be valuable for engaged couples include:
- Financial Counseling: These sessions discuss creating a personal budget, managing debt, controlling credit cards, retirement planning, investing, and other financial issues that can affect the couple's marriage.
- Family Counseling: If either the bride- or groom-to-be has children from a previous relationship, attending family counseling can help the children adjust to the new family and help the couple learn how to be parents together.
- Parenting Counseling: If the couple hopes to start their family right away or if they are already expecting, counseling sessions for expectant parents can help them prepare for adding a new family member to their relationship.
- Career Counseling: Plotting career paths, choosing a new career, and other issues can help couples feel secure not only in their relationship, but also in their professional paths as they start their lives together.
If premarital counseling is required before a couple marries, their local church or marriage license office can often recommend available resources. For more specialized counseling services, couples should consult doctors, therapists, and other resources to find the best services for their individual needs. Counseling sessions may be weekly or monthly ongoing programs, one day workshops, weekend retreats, or other formats, but the end result is the same: helping the couple prepare for a lifelong relationship.
Should engaged couples go to counseling? Only the couple can decide how to answer, but seeking professional assistance for working out problems and planning a stronger relationship can only help benefit every couple willing to attend counseling before they walk down the aisle.