Thinking of marriage? About to become new parents?
Entering counselling prior to marriage or becoming a family is an excellent way to enhance your confidence in the relationship and prepare for the journey ahead. In this more educational / preventative form of counselling, you can expect to:
- Create a plan for your future as a couple with shared expectations
- Uncover your own beliefs and assumptions about marriage and/or parenthood
- Strengthen your understanding of and appreciation for your partner
- Learn tools that can reduce future conflict and carry you through difficult times
- Explore any other topics that have been on your mind in a safe, objective environment
"My partner and I did a series of sessions with Ruth for pre-marital counselling simply to get some guidance and direction and to bring to light various areas of our relationship that perhaps we had not yet had deeper conversations about. We found it both reaffirming for us (that we have a solid foundation to take the next step in our relationship) as well as supportive (it gave us exercises and opportunities to discuss the areas less addressed)."
"Ruth was an excellent facilitator! She made me, as a male, feel very comfortable and I personally believe that every couple could benefit by doing some form of counselling as speaking one's truth, taking personal responsibility, and actively / openly listening to my partner are pillars for both of us in our relationship."
I offer a free 15 minute consultation to determine which premarital program will work best and seems appropriate for your goals and situation. I can tailor my services, and will happily customize a package based on your unique needs. Couples also of course have the option to book one session only to see how they like it.
For the best results, I suggest one of the programs described below. If none of these are quite what you had in mind, please contact me to ask about other possibilities that would be a better fit for you and your partner.
PREPARE/ENRICH Premarital Program
I am trained in the administration and interpretation of the PREPARE/ENRICH relationship questionnaire, considered to be one of the leading relationship and couples assessment tool. It has been scientifically validated, and automatically tailors the content of the relationship assessment to fit each couple’s unique relationship needs.
In this program, each partner takes an online inventory, designed to measure relationship strengths, growth areas, personality similarities and differences. I then review the results and couples are taught skills to enhance their relationship in these key areas. Couples are also provided with a concise report to take home.
Premarital Exploratory (6 sessions+)
As the name suggests, this program is less structured, and designed to facilitate conversation around a variety of topics. Usually done in 6 or more sessions (9 hours+), couples may explore: goals & dreams, children & parenting, finances, communication, values, family history, marriage expectations & relationship roles. In our final session, the couple works to synthesize what has been discussed in the previous weeks, giving them the foundation for a vision of their future together. Areas of conflict and practical matters are also touched on as needed.
Building Skills for Marriage (2 sessions+)
This is more educational than counselling. We won't delve deeply into family background or personal issues, but rather you will learn specific strategies for enhancing your relationship. In two sessions (3 hours total) you will learn about communication and research-based keys to success in marriage.
- Couples are encouraged to add additional sessions to either of these packages if they would like more time exploring topics and learning skills.
FAQs about Premarital Counselling
What kinds of couples can benefit from premarital counselling?
Premarital counselling can benefit any couple. It can benefit those who seem sure that they have found the person they are meant to spend the rest of their lives with, and those who have been together for a long time and know each other well. These types of couples may just want a relationship tune-up to nip in the bud any disagreements or discrepancies between what partners anticipate their marriage to be like.
It can also help to provide clarity for those who aren't so sure, or have known each other for only a short time. The process of exploration allows couples to get to know possible blind spots as well as strengths, allowing them to make an informed decision about their commitment.
What is premarital counselling?
It's exactly what it sounds like – counselling before you get married. However, this can happen at any point, for example when you're trying to figure out whether your partner is 'the right person' for you, deciding whether to take the next step by moving in together, or more traditionally, after an engagement but prior to the wedding itself. The timing that is best will depend on what your needs are and what you are hoping to achieve from counselling.
Why would we go to counselling if we have never been happier?
There are many reasons why attending counselling before you walk down the aisle is the smart thing to do. By attending premarital counselling, you are preparing yourself for what lies ahead. Marriage is after all, a lifetime commitment, full of obstacles, decisions, and change.
- In 2008, 43% of Canadian marriages were expected to end in divorce (Statistics Canada, 2008)
- Research has shown that on average, relationship satisfaction declines across the first 10 years of marriage (Glenn, 1998; Kurdek, 1999)
In other words, premarital counselling is preventative. You are enhancing your confidence in yourself and your partner, and learning some great tools that will improve the quality and resiliency of your marriage down the road. It is amazing the improvements that can be seen in relationships through a bit of education, exploration, and work.
Is it possible that through premarital counselling we will realize that we don't want to get married?
It is a possibility because the goal is to work towards greater understanding and clarity about what you and your partner want from your life. However, you will likely come out of this process feeling more focused and confident about your lives together, and fully prepared to take the step into marriage.