The Different Premarital Counseling Topics People Seek Out

Updated March 21, 2024by MyTherapist Editorial Team

While some religious denominations require couples to go through premarital counseling prior to a wedding ceremony, more and more couples who are not necessarily religious are choosing to engage in the process, as well. Statistics indicate that 44% of today’s married couples engaged in premarital counseling, and that they are better off than couples who don’t participate in premarital counseling. 

If you’re engaged or about to get married, you may have wondered if premarital counseling is right for you and your partner. Ahead, we’ll discuss the types of topics people discuss in premarital counseling sessions as well as the many benefits that couples can enjoy from partaking in the process.

What is premarital counseling?

Premarital counselors can ask questions to strengthen your union

Premarital counseling is a counseling service for future married couples who want to discuss certain topics and issues before they tie the knot. It used to be an exclusive religious practice, where churches and other religious leaders would offer counseling services for couples in the church. Since then, more couples who are not that religious realize its benefits.

For many people, deciding to marry someone is one of their biggest life decisions. Doing so indicates a promise to merge one’s life with someone else’s forever. When we’re caught up in the excitement of wedding planning and imagining the happiest parts of our future, it is easy to overlook complications that may arise due to personality clashes, differences in values, contradictory parenting styles, or family involvement. 

A premarital counselor will ask questions about these topics to help couples explore where they are similar and where they hold opposing views. The goal is to anticipate challenges so that couples can take a united front and go toward one another in conflict, instead of against or away from one another. 

For example, what happens you're confronted with financial or intimacy issues? Someone who has had pre marriage counseling may be prepared for the rainy day, while someone who hasn't will find it more difficult. What if one partner envisions a life with children while the other partner wants to remain child-free? People who go to premarital counseling seek out various topics to discuss and overcome. Let’s delve into some of those topics in depth.


It’s easy to assume that married couples understand each other very well. However, this may not be the case. Even if the two of you are joined at the hip, miscommunication can still occur and cause arguments in the relationship. This is because miscommunication is easy, thanks to human nature. We communicate using words, body language, and thinking people will "get the hint," and there is naturally going to be miscommunication that comes from it.

Say you want your partner to wash the dishes right away, and you tell them as much. Your partner thinks you mean to wash the dishes eventually and puts it off. Once you see that the dishes have not been washed, you get upset with your partner, and your partner gets defensive. A premarital counselor would address this problem by having the couple bring up examples of miscommunication and then learn how to resolve them. 

A good couple should have reliable communication. Of course, mishaps may occur from time to time. A longitudinal study involving couples over four decades discovered that the most common communication issues revolve around one partner’s refusal to communicate (stonewalling), partner criticism, defensive communication, and overall contempt – all considered as relationship therapist John Gottman’s four horsemen (harbingers of failed relationships). Premarital counseling can help partners respond with empathy and understanding, versus defensiveness and resentment.

Clearing the air

Another topic people try to accomplish when they go to premarital counseling is clearing the air of issues that have been bothering them. Many couples go to marriage with a few grievances. They may write them off as minor; after all, no one is perfect, and you're going to have disagreements with anyone. However, if left untreated, these disagreements can turn into arguments, which can erode your relationship.

Disagreements can involve quirks that one partner doesn't like. For example, let's say one person is messy, always leaving their clothes around, and the other is cleaner. The cleaner person rolls their eyes at the messier person but writes it off as something they'll have to live with forever. Instead, their annoyance grows until they snap.

Sometimes, the issue may be more major—for example, the desire for children. If you want children, and your partner doesn't, don't assume they'll change their mind. Sometimes, they don't, and you will get into arguments over that topic. A premarital counselor addresses issues in a proactive manner by offering compromises and solutions.

Planning for the future


Another topic that people address in premarital counseling is planning for the future. When it comes to planning, life doesn’t always go according to our plans, but that does not negate the importance of having a plan. Having an ideal plan for your future can make it easier for you to survive and respond to opportunities or dilemmas. A premarital counselor can look at your goals and aspirations and help you develop a plan that is easy for you to maintain and adjust. Not all plans have to involve major life decisions, either. You can plan for a vacation or how to save up for a rainy day.

Learning more about each other

Many people seek counseling to learn more about their partner. You and your future spouse may think you know every secret, belief, or quirk there is to know, but the learning experience never stops in a marriage. You may soon realize that there is a lot more to know about your future spouse than you realize.

Premarital counselors are typically skilled in asking open-ended questions designed to lead into productive discussion. Whenever they ask a question, they do it casually and easily. These questions can be fun little "get to know you” questions or they can be fundamental questions about opinions on life. These questions can focus on issues that you never feel like discussing—for example, your past relationships. Learning about your past relationships can help you figure out how to learn from your mistakes.

Marriage anxiety (having cold feet)

Marriage can be the best time of your life, but it can also be a relationship fraught with anxiety, uncertainty, and confusion. If you are having a ceremony, the ceremony itself can be a source of distress, as you may fixate on wanting everything to go right. You may be worried about solidifying a long-term commitment for the first time, or after a previous marriage that failed. 

Marriage is associated with various stigmas. Some believe they’ll lose their freedom, independence, or even identity once they marry, but this is not necessarily true. Marriage is a new chapter and one that can create a brand new dimension of your life. It doesn't have to be a period of anxiety, and it doesn’t mean that you will lose the parts of yourself or your current relationship that you most cherish.

How to have a good session of premarital counseling

If you are going to a premarital counseling session, there are a few “best practices” to consider, as well as behaviors to avoid. Many premarital counselors will establish “ground rules” up front (such as not using anything the counselor says or taking things out of context to attack or insult one’s partner). Below, we’ve included tips for getting the most benefits out of your premarital counseling journey.

Acknowledge your problems

Premarital counselors do not expect their clients to come into the first session with a perfect marriage, and they will likely be able to identify efforts to put on a facade. It is important to recognize that your counselor will not judge you if you have problems or flaws; they have seen many clients and helped them work through many issues. Remember to bring up any questions and concerns you may have. It is better to address these issues now when you have a clear head.

Have an open mind

Too many people believe they are the hero in their tale, but in reality, they may be in the wrong. A good marriage involves admitting when you were wrong, sincerely apologizing for causing harm, and making compromises to change your behavior and improve your relationship quality. You need to learn all sides of an argument before you take a side, and counseling can help. Know that your counselor is not interested in taking sides; their job is to hold partners accountable so that they can reach common ground.

Try it out before you disregard it

Your premarital counselor may suggest strategies that you may not think will work, or that cause you to feel defensive or uncomfortable. If you believe the advice is worth trying, then do it. Even if you don't feel like the advice is good, it may still be worthwhile to give it a try. You may be surprised at how good a counselor's advice is, and your willingness to try new things can reassure your partner that you are committed to making changes for the survival of the relationship.

Know that premarital counseling is not a panacea

Even if there is nothing majorly wrong with your marriage, counseling can help find small issues before they get worse. By going to regular therapy, you can maintain your marriage. Your marriage is like a machine, and by ignoring the small problems, it can break down and end up costing you some money—both literally and figuratively in this case.

Find a therapist who specializes in premarital counseling

A good premarital therapist can help you with any potential problems you have with your future marriage. For busy couples on the go, an online premarital counselor may be an excellent option. Through online therapy platforms like MyTherapist, users can schedule appointments at convenient times. They can additionally attend virtual therapy sessions from any location with a strong internet connection. This makes it easy for couples in long-distance relationships to meet with a premarital counselor, or for couples to attend therapy without having to leave work early to travel to an in-person therapist’s office.

In one study of couples engaged in premarital partnerships, researchers learned that online therapy is effective in increasing couples’ positive emotions concerning marriage, helping them develop better communication skills, and enhancing their understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses. 

As exciting as planning for a wedding can be, it can also be expensive. The average cost of a wedding in the United States in 2022 cost $30,000, which can serve as one barrier a couple faces when seeking premarital counseling. Online therapy is considered to be a more affordable option than face-to-face therapy, and those who participate tend to achieve their desired results more efficiently when compared to attending in-person therapy.

Ilona Titova/EyeEm
Premarital counselors can ask questions to strengthen your union


Premarital counseling is not just for couples experiencing relationship conflicts. Happy, healthy couples go to counseling just like a fit person exercises. You may find that engaging in premarital counseling is not only useful, but a fun and safe way to deepen your relationship and strengthen your connection with your partner. In fact, one study found that nearly 95% of people who participated in premarital counseling shared that they would recommend it to those who are contemplating getting married.

You and your partner deserve the best shot at enduring love. With a compassionate, professional therapist on your side, you can feel emboldened to ask difficult questions and make empowered behavioral changes. When you’re ready to start searching for a premarital therapist aligned with your couple goals, you can reach out to an online counselor today via MyTherapist.

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