One Thing You Can’t Afford to Skip When You’re Engaged

When you’re engaged, there are so many things to do. You’re in the middle of dreaming of your new life together, planning a wedding, and enjoying the time you get to spend with your fiance. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the responsibilities and checklists, but there’s one thing you can’t afford to neglect during your engagement: pre-marriage counseling.

Pre-marriage counseling is one of the most important things you and your fiance can do in the lead-up to the wedding day. This type of counseling involves working with a licensed counselor, or a minister experienced in helping engaged couples, to ensure that you and your fiance are on the same page. Getting counseling prior to the wedding is one way to create a healthy foundation for your marriage to thrive.

What’s the purpose of pre-marriage counseling?

Getting married opens an entirely new chapter in your life. This journey is an adventure, and when you’re happy and in love, it’s easy to ignore possible issues that you may encounter once the honeymoon is over. Pre-marriage counseling helps you both to slow down a little bit to see the big picture, and it helps you make sure that you both have the tools you need to get started on the right foot.

Pre-marriage counseling can either reinforce that you’re in a healthy place, or it can highlight areas that you need to work on. In some cases, it can even show you red flags that might indicate that you need to wait to get married. As you go through your program with your counselor, these details should become clear to you.

Getting premarital counseling can help you and your fiance identify areas of your relationship that are either difficult now, or may become difficult in the future. And, they’ll give you tools and awareness that you need to be able to seek out further support–or to be prepared for those issues when they arise.

How much time should we spend in pre-marriage counseling?

The amount of time that you and your fiance choose to spend in pre-marriage counseling is really up to you. We recommend that engaged couples spend a minimum of six hours in this type of counseling.

Marriages are more likely to succeed when couples go through at least six hours of pre-marital counseling. This type of guidance can slash your chances of divorce by 31%. That’s a significant difference in seeking out help before marriage versus going it alone.

Depending on your unique situation, you and your fiance may need more time in counseling than that six-hour minimum, and that’s okay. Whatever it takes to set yourself up for success, that’s what you need to do. Your counselor will be there to help you along the way.

What does successful pre-marriage counseling look like?

Successful pre-marriage counseling looks different for every couple. It depends on your individual health, the health of your relationship, and your unique situation. In the end, success is when you choose the healthiest route for yourselves as individuals and as a couple, even if it doesn’t feel that way in the moment.

For one couple, success may look like getting the green light on the wedding and knowing that you’re in a healthy place. For another, success might look like stepping back and hitting the pause button before you go forward. It may even mean delaying or canceling the wedding.

Premarital counseling and marriage mentorship make all the difference.

When seeking out a premarital counselor, it’s important to select someone trustworthy who shares your values and will root for you. A licensed therapist or a pastor who is experienced in pre-marriage counseling can come alongside you as an objective third party who understands healthy marriage and relationship dynamics. They’re here to guide you along the path to a healthy marriage, and that’s why it’s so important not to skip this stage of your engagement.

Interested in going through pre-marriage counseling? We have SYMBIS (Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts) facilitators all over the country who are ready to work with you and your fiance now. Click here to locate a facilitator near you.

Will you and your fiance attend pre-marriage counseling? Why or why not? If you’re already married, did you? What kind of positive impact did counseling have on your marriage? Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know.


  • My fiancé and I are geographically separated. We met when I lived in North Dakota, now due to my job I live in Washington DC. We kept our relationship going and got engaged Dec 21. We are planning on marrying Nov or Dec 22. We talk every night and have a virtual date once per week. How would you suggest we do a Symbis assessment? Would she and I find facilitators near us and connect them so we could do a joint assessment? Thank you!

    • Barb Claxton says:

      Joseph, love your idea of a virtual date once a week! And congratulations for seeing the value of pre-marriage coaching. My husband and I are certified SYBMIS facilitators and we have had great success serving couples over Zoom. We love this work. The assessment is online, so that is not a problem geographically. There is a directory where you can find local facilitators if you do want to try and meet in person. We would love to talk with you more about this if you are interested.

    • Hi Joseph,
      I would be more than happy to talk to you about being your facilitator.

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