The Benefits of Premarital Counseling

November 12, 2009 — 9 Comments

Paul & Michelle

       My wife, Michelle, and I went through six premarital counseling sessions with the pastor who conducted our wedding ceremony and his wife. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts about why premarital counseling is a good idea. There are many benefits, and I’m sure I won’t cover them all. But here are at least some of the benefits of premarital counseling.

Setting Expectations

       Will you have children? If so, how many? Will both of you work or just one? Where will you live? Who will be in charge of which chores? How much personal time will you give each other? Some of these questions may seem like they can wait until later, and many couples don’t discuss these things until after the wedding. It’s good to thoroughly discuss your expectations as early as possible before you’re actually married so you can prepare for what lies ahead. By talking about these things early on, you avoid the problem of misunderstandings and misconceptions later on.


       Sure you’re in love, and you feel like you’re on top of the world after your engagement. But it’s highly unlikely that you and your future spouse are completely compatible in every aspect of your personalities, habits, viewpoints, and goals. Premarital counseling helps you identify the areas where you may be incompatible. Once you bring these issues to light, you can discuss them deeper and determine if there are any deal breakers. While it may not be fun, calling the wedding off now is much easier and better than a divorce in a few years.


Wisdom of Trees by lepiaf.geo on Flickr       Good communication is essential to a successful marriage. (I’d say it’s right up there with love. 😉 ) During premarital counseling, you’ll learn a little more about each other’s communication styles and discuss methods for effective communication. These techniques will greatly improve your chances of having good communication during marriage and your happiness as well.

Conflict Resolution

       Related to the communication issue is conflict resolution. When problems arise, and they will, how will you work together to solve them? How will you deal with each other when you have a heated argument? Premarital counseling will teach you ways to successfully resolve conflicts and help you set ground rules that you both agree to before any problems arise.


Bride & Groom Kiss by jonathanb1989 on Flickr       If you and your spouse have saved yourselves for marriage, you’ll want to understand each other’s intimacy expectations and comfort levels prior to your wedding night. It may be an awkward conversation to have with a premarital counselor, but again, setting expectations is key. Even if you have had sex before marriage, it’s important to discuss your expectations during marriage. Hopefully, you would have already discussed any past relationships, but if not this would be the time to bring them up. Skeletons in the closet can create disastrous problems in your marriage. Your pride is not worth the possibility of ruining an otherwise happy marriage.

Long-term Goals

       Another major area to discuss is your long-term goals. What are your career prospects and how will this affect your marriage? When do you want to retire? How do you envision your lifestyle together? What are your most important goals? By discussing these questions prior to marriage, you can avoid finding out that your goals are not aligned at all. Most couples will have discussed these things before setting a wedding date, but they’re still important enough to cover once more.

What Does Premarital Counseling Have to Do with Personal Finance?

       One major area of discussion is finances. You’ll talk about responsibilities and budgeting as well as any other financial issues that may be pertinent. Other topics may include your financial history, freedom to purchase items without your spouse’s approval, and your financial views. Preparing for your finances before marriage will help alleviate stress about money—often noted as one of the main causes of divorce. It will also help set you up for a successful financial future, since a budget and financial compatibility will form a strong foundation for finances in your marriage.

       Additionally, research has shown that premarital counseling reduces the chance of divorce by 30%. Divorce can wreak havoc on your emotions and your finances, so any steps you can take to avoid it are good financial moves indeed. While premarital counseling can’t guarantee you won’t end up getting a divorce, the training in communication and conflict resolution and the discussion of expectations, compatibility, intimacy, goals, and finances will definitely help you deal with some of the main causes of divorce. It also gives you a chance to commit to each other that divorce is not an option – strengthening your marriage and encouraging you to work all things out together rather than seeking separation.

The Bride and Groom by Clav on Flickr       I highly recommend all couples go through premarital counseling before the wedding. If you’re going to spend so much time planning for your wedding day, it makes sense to take a little time to plan for a successful marriage to last the rest of your lives!

Called Together

       I would highly recommend using the same book we did if you’re going through premarital counseling. Most counselors will have their own recommendations, but if yours doesn’t you should check out Called Together. You’ll need two copies (one for each of you), but they’re only $13.86 a piece (or cheaper if you buy used).



Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.

9 responses to The Benefits of Premarital Counseling

  1. I’m doing a research paper for a high school project on marriage, and I’m doing a section on the benefits of premarital counseling. This perspective was really helpful, and I hope you don’t mind you were quoted. I appreciated the Christian perspective, so thanks.

  2. Nope, I don’t mind at all, KB. I’m glad you found it helpful. Just be sure it’s properly cited. Everything here is indexed by Google and it would be easy for your teacher to check for plagiarism. Wouldn’t want you to get in trouble for that!

  3. My fiance and I just recently got engaged and are planning a small wedding at the end of April. Someone told me that that is to soon to get married and that we need time to seek out premarital counseling. I understand the benefits of premarital counseling and we are going to do it, but is there a time frame for such a thing? Also, the other day finances got brought up between him and I and he mentioned that we would have separate bank accounts, rather than a joint account. This was really hard for me to hear. May I get your thought on whether it matters? Thanks so much, this article was very helpful!

  4. Hi, Dani. The time frame for premarital counseling will depend on whom you use for the counseling. Many ministers/counselors only have one session. Others may do two or three. And the one we used took six sessions (based on the book we used). It’s definitely a valuable thing to do before marriage, especially if things are coming up now that you did not expect (like the separate bank accounts).

    As far as separate bank accounts go, I personally prefer to have our finances joint (mine and my wife’s). But I know of many people who separate their finances and split the bills (evenly or by a formula based on their income, which is pretty much joint finances if you ask me). They seem to do fine as long as they maintain very good communication and expectations and they’re both OK with it. It certainly sounds like something you should explore more with your fiance.

  5. Paul, my fiancée and I are getting married in July. We have been together for a little over 5 years. We are both believers of Jesus and are planning on doing premarital counseling. However, we have had sex before (only between us two, no other previous partner). How would this affect the counseling session? Will pastors still perform premarital counseling and marry a couple who have had sex before marriage?

  6. Hi, JD. I can’t speak for other pastors, but I know I wouldn’t refuse to counsel/marry a couple who had sex before marriage unless they remain unrepentant. (I’d still counsel them, but I’d have a hard time marrying them if they saw no problem with sex before marriage.) It should be something that comes up in premarital counseling but it might not. And obviously you wouldn’t be forced to share about it, but you’ll get the most out of premarital counseling if you’re completely honest and open. Blessings to you and your fiancée.

  7. Premarital counsel can save ur marriage before it starts. We did not have any premarital counsel , it took the grace of God for our marriage to survive the storms! Now i know better, and counsel others.

  8. how long did your premarital counseling last.

  9. Ours was six sessions over approximately 6 or 7 months, but I think most are probably only one or two sessions. We had six because that’s what the book we used breaks it up into.

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