Wedding 101

The Top 10 Reasons Couples Should go to Therapy Before Walking Down the Aisle

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What if the most important question in a relationship isn't "will you marry me?" but instead is "will you join me in therapy to help each other grow and expand?" According to a new study, by Erica I. Gable and John M. Gottman, it turns out the answer may be just as important. Under the premise that a healthy relationship involves at least one partner willing to go to counseling, Gable and Gottman reported that counseling could be vital for building a strong foundation in relationships before you say ‘I Do’.
While everyone embarks on their marriage journey with the forever lasting hopes, the ugly truth is there is no easy way to guarantee that outcome. We have all at some point either seen the healthiest relationships become toxic past the honeymoon phase or witnessed a broken bond morph into a beautiful and long lasting fairytale. We will truly never know the right formula to bypass the challenges that come with sustaining a marriage and achieving a ‘happy-ever-after’. But what we do know, from consulting with different experts, is that one of the most successful (and may we add underrated) ways couples can strengthen their relationship before marriage, is through premarital counseling.
Now, you may be thinking you already know everything about your partner or that you don’t have enough relationship problems to warrant going to therapy. However, premarital counseling is beneficial for all couples regardless of how great your relationship may be. Engaging an objective third party to push you and your partner outside your conversational comfort zone does not mean your bond is broken. On the contrary, it shows your commitment and your willingness to grow within your relationship and explore your blind spots to unlock a more fulfilling layer in your partnership. It serves to improve your communication, help you understand your partner on a deeper level and develop a healthier understanding and expectation of marriage overall. 
And the best part about exploring couples therapy in today’s day and age is the convenience and accessibility of it all from the comfort of your home. Marriage is hard work. But with online resources like BetterHelp, you can start to find ways to work smarter, not harder. Still not convinced? While couples therapy might not be right for everyone, here are the top 10 reasons why premarital couples therapy might be the right next step for you.

1. Improve Communication

As the saying goes, “Communication is key.” Learning how to effectively communicate with your partner is essential towards reaching a mutual level of understanding in your relationship and avoiding potential arguments. You and your partner may already believe that your communication skills are good enough as they are, and they may very well be, but there’s certainly no harm in improving upon those skills. With premarital counseling, you and your partner can equip yourselves with the useful tools needed to navigate through difficult conversations.

2. Safely Address Concerns and Find Solutions

No couple is perfect, which means it’s completely normal to stumble into a few hurdles in your relationship. You may find it difficult to convey your concerns to the person you love out of fear of hurting them or simply because you’re unsure of how to address sensitive issues such as anger or jealousy. There may even be past issues and trauma that you haven’t fully healed from yet, and carrying them with you into marriage may unknowingly sabotage your relationship overtime. 
One of the greatest benefits of pre-marriage counseling is having a safe place to communicate your feelings with the guidance of an expert. Your therapist will not only provide you and your partner with the support needed to address your issues, but they can also help you vocalize your thoughts and feelings while working towards solutions from a professional standpoint. However, the work doesn’t always stop when your session ends. One of the most effective ways to maintain your progress is to carry over the work into your day to day life by applying what you’ve learned and also finding new resources to help you manage stress and relationship conflicts. Some great resources to consider are BetterHelp’s digital worksheets and templates that give couples an easy way to keep doing the work at home.

3. Set Healthy Expectations and Boundaries for Marriage

It's very easy for couples to overlook the significance of setting healthy boundaries and making their expectations known before marriage. While in a perfect world your partner might automatically know what you want out of marriage and even remembers the timelines you’ve set for achieving specific life goals, in reality, those details may have long been forgotten. Through couples therapy, you and your partner can sit down and set your expectations and boundaries for married life such as how to raise future children, achieving the best work/life balance, and how to navigate religious and traditional practices and holidays. As an unbiased third-party, your therapist can easily help you keep your expectations for marriage, and your expectations for your partner, realistic and achievable.

4. Start a Healthy Dialogue About Finances

The combination of finances and marriage stirs up a lot of anxiety for most couples. In fact, issues surrounding finances are often the final nail in the coffin for marriages across the board. As scary as it can be to address the topic before getting the chance to say “I Do,” premarital counseling can dispel a lot of the fear and stress around managing money as a married couple.
Your therapist can equip you and partner with tried-and-true methods to successfully handle the monthly budget, managing your money in a way that leaves both parties feeling supported and in control, and talking through any additional concerns you may have should your finances change for better or worse. 

5. Improve Intimacy

Intimacy may not exactly be an issue for couples about to embark on a new honeymoon phase of their relationship, however, it’s never too early or too late to learn how to improve intimacy between you and your partner. Although sex is the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the word “intimacy,” there is so much more to it than that. Intimacy includes showing your partner appreciation in ways that are meaningful to them, such as catering to their specific love languages. It's also about communicating your wants and needs, making time to prioritize one another, and building trust on a physical, mental, and emotional level.
While talking about your intimate relationship to a stranger may seem awkward and uncomfortable, online therapy has been proven to help couples feel more at ease by allowing them the freedom to attend each session from the comfort of their own home whether it be via messaging, chat, phone or video.

6. Understand your Partner Better 

At this stage of your relationship, you and your partner probably know each other pretty well. There may not be much you haven’t talked about or experienced together before considering taking the next big step in your relationship. Nevertheless, attending relationship therapy before marriage can help you connect with your partner on a deeper level as you talk about your beliefs, desires, and plans for married life. You might discover that you have different opinions on where your dream home should be and what it will look like, on how you want to raise a family, or on how to deal with those surprise visits from your in-laws.

7. Learn How to Support your Spouse

Part of understanding your partner is not only about learning how to meet their expectations but also exploring how to show up for them in a way that makes them feel supported. Each couple is unique in how they choose to divide responsibilities, and as life throws each person new hurdles in their personal family life, work life, and friend circles, there will usually be a need for extra support or TLC during difficult times. Premarital therapy can help couples address questions such as:
  • How would you like your partner to show up for you during difficult times?
  • Do you need extra affection or alone time to recharge?
  • What can your partner do to make you feel supported?

8. Address Fears about Marriage

Getting cold feet is the last thing anyone wants to experience before the big day. Even though the thought of being married to the love of your life will undoubtedly have you feeling giddy with delight, it’s not uncommon for people to still harbor feelings of fear alongside their excitement. These feelings can stem from trauma, being a child of divorced parents, hearing people around you speak poorly of marriage, as well as many other factors. If this sounds like you, then worry no more. Pre-marriage counseling is designed to help you both freely confront your fears about marriage head on, while finding the confidence and reassurance in yourselves to create the life you’ve always dreamed of with the one you love.

9. Set Expectations Around Faith and Community

When it comes to faith and community, couples are going to need to be on the same page about their expectations in order to avoid conflict. Before embarking on the union of marriage, each partner should have some hard hitting, yet important, discussions on how involved they will want to be in their faith or community as a married couple. Some couples choose to pursue more religious paths after marriage and others choose to not be too strict or too involved in any one community. Your therapist may want you to work through the details such as whether or not going to church together every week is an expectation you have or if it’s important to you to make contributions to the specific communities you identify with such as the LGBTQ+ community, cultural communities, support groups, etc.
Fortunately, online therapy platforms such as BetterHelp aim to serve a variety of social demographics by offering a diverse network of therapists. You can get matched with a therapist that is already part of your faith and/or community which can make these important conversations much easier to have.

10. Prevent Divorce

Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire way to completely eliminate the possibility of divorce (although we all wish there was). However, pre-marriage counseling offers couples the tools, space and resources needed to effectively show up for themselves and their partners throughout their married lives. Not only will your sessions help you strengthen your bond for the long haul, but you will also develop the skills needed to avoid future conflicts. The less stress you find yourself in, the happier you and your future spouse will be and the more likely you are to feel content in your marriage.
There are endless benefits to premarital counseling that can help couples become better prepared for the next exciting chapter in their relationship. Eliminating your fears around marriage and working together with your partner in therapy to build a solid foundation on which you’ll build your life upon, might be worth the investment before saying “I Do.” While there are a lot of great resources to help you find a therapist that can meet the requirements of both you and your partner, BetterHelp has been one of the most successful resources for couples who are interested in receiving relationship therapy. You gain all the benefits of traditional therapy in a more convenient online setting. It makes staying committed and consistent in your sessions easier, and since commitment is your thing, it's worth giving premarital therapy a try.
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