Premarital Therapy: For a Holly Jolly Relationship
It’s that time of year. The weather is getting cooler, the holidays are approaching, and for many that means taking that next step in their relationship. If you’re thinking about giving a ring for Christmas, it might be time to make sure your relationship is as cozy as the holidays.
A common misconception is that therapy is only for people who have “major” problems they need to work through. Some couples believe that they only need to speak with a professional when at least one of them starts throwing around the word divorce. That doesn’t have to be the case! Therapy can be helpful at all different stages of the relationship. A couple might decide that they want to start thinking about marriage, but maybe haven’t had those important conversations about what married life might look like. This is where premarital therapy can help any couple start off on the right foot.
What is Premarital Therapy
Premarital therapy can come in many different styles. There are several different types of structured programs, such as the Prepare Enrich program or the Preparation and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP). Many times, these programs involve doing an assessment before the sessions to look at the main areas of a relationship, such as finances, attachment styles, and communication. The assessments highlight areas of strength, as well as areas of growth. Through work with a therapist, the couple can learn to build on what they are already doing well together, while talking through the areas where there might be disagreement or uncertainty.
There are also less formal styles that rely solely on conversations rather than assessment tools. This is geared more towards couples who may have a particular concern that has already popped up. Premarital talk therapy is just as also effective. It just depends on what the couple is looking for.
Benefits of Premarital Therapy
Many times, couples start off a relationship thinking that it’s perfect. People don’t tend to get married thinking it will end in divorce. Many people think they don’t need to talk about what hasn’t happened yet, sometimes afraid it might lead to a fight that didn’t need to happen. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
However, this may lead to anger and frustration in the future as things come up that couples thought they were on the same page about, but never actually discussed. communicated about. By having conversations related to all areas of the relationship, the couple can begin to lay a solid foundation for a relationship that can survive whatever curveballs life throws. It is so much easier to talk through potential conflicts while you’re still happy and in love, than when you’re angry and hurt.
As an added bonus for engaged couples, the completion of a program through “Twogether in Texas” can earn them a discount on their marriage license.
How to Get Started
There are many places that offer the structured premarital programs. Be aware that not all facilitators of these programs are licensed therapists, so be picky when choosing a place program. Visit the websites and read the bios of the people you might be interested in. Look at their experience and areas of expertise. Think about what kind of support your relationship might need, and choose a facilitator appropriately suited for that. Your relationship deserves the best.
Many of our therapists at Fuller Life do premarital therapy, both structured programs and regular talk therapy. Elisa Squier and Tamara Tatum are both registered Prepare/Enrich facilitators and are accepting new clients.
Give you and your partner the gift you both deserve this holiday season: a happy, healthy relationship to last the seasons of life.
Contributed by Elisa Squier, M.MFT, LMFT Associate
Clinical Supervision by Amy Fuller, PhD, LMFT-S, LPC-S