Premarital counseling typically includes five to seven meetings with a counselor. Often in premarital counseling, each partner is asked to separately answer a written questionnaire, known as a premarital assessment questionnaire. These questionnaires encourage partners to assess their perspectives of one another and their relationship. They can also help identify a couple's strengths, weaknesses and potential problem areas. The aim is to foster awareness and discussion and encourage couples to address concerns proactively. Your counselor can help you interpret your results together, encourage you and your partner to discuss areas of common unhappiness or disagreement, and set goals to help you overcome challenges.
Your counselor might also have you and your partner use a tool called a Couples Resource Map — a picture and scale of your perceived support from individual resources, relationship resources, and cultural and community resources. You and your partner will create separate maps at first. Following a discussion with your counselor about differences between the two maps, you'll create one map as a couple. The purpose is to help you and your partner remember to use these resources to help manage your problems.
In addition, your counselor might ask you and your partner questions to find out your unique visions for your marriage and clarify what you can do to make small, positive changes in your relationship.
Remember, preparing for marriage involves more than choosing a wedding dress and throwing a party. Take the time to build a solid foundation for your relationship.
Nov. 19, 2011
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- Nine psychological tasks for a good marriage. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/marriage.aspx. Accessed Aug. 26, 2011.
- Murray CE, et al. Solution-focused premarital counseling: Helping couples build a vision for their marriage. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. 2004;30:349.
- Larson JH, et al. The relationship evaluation (relate) with therapist-assisted interpretation: Short-term effects on premarital relationships. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. 2007;33:364.
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