You Got The Ring! Now What?

The first post in a series to help you plan your life together

By Heather Sutter, LCSW

So, you are engaged. Congrats! You have the ring, the date, and possibly the venue picked out.  You are knee-deep in wedding magazines, flower arrangements, invitation booklets, and dress ideas – but what about the most important part? Your relationship with your soon-to-be spouse.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the event planning and miss out on the opportunity to connect to the more meaningful aspects of your relationship. All relationships need work, and you have access to the tools to start your marriage out on the very best possible foot.

 Wedding planning can be a stressful process that requires open communication about values and expectations. Premarital counseling can help you to master these difficult conversations.  At A Good Place, we are proponents of the “Prepare/Enrich,” methodology,  a custom-tailored relationship inventory and skill-building program that is based on a solid research foundation. 

Although you and your fiancé may be on the same page in many areas, there are topics that may seem unnecessary or uncomfortable to discuss when you are dating. Maybe you and your partner have talked about these difficult topics in passing, but now that you have taken that next step towards combining your own individual values and beliefs, your perspectives may have shifted.

Premarital counseling provides a safe and neutral place for couples to discuss spiritual differences, living arrangements, money, retirement, children, monogamy, family dynamics, and other hot button issues.

With Prepare/Enrich, couples complete a customized online assessment at the beginning of treatment. The assessment provides a score which indicates areas of strength and growth, and to avoid future conflict. Premarital counseling is then tailored to guide a couple through discussions on the topics most pertinent to them. 

Prepare/Enrich is built on a few key components:

  • Exploring strength and growth areas – pre-marriage counseling helps couples identify relationship strengths and areas of improvement. This allows couples to get ahead of conflict and decide on a resolution.
  • Resolving conflict by strengthening communication skills – by learning the best ways to communicate efficiently and effectively future problems can be prevented and issues can be resolved smoothly.
  • Developing a more balanced relationship – by acknowledging each person’s individual goals and needs, a balanced and healthy relationship can be established.
  • Exploring family of origin areas – where you are from is an important part of who you are. It is a good idea to look at the whole being and what makes them who they are. It helps keep a marriage more open and connected.
  • Discussing financial planning and budgeting – this can be a touchy issue for many couples. Facing it head on, establishing financial planning goals, and determining necessary spending can help resolve many issues before they become severe.
  • Establishing personal, couple and family goals – goals, goals, GOALS are so important. They help couples set their sights on what is really important and keep people on the same page. Marriage is a partnership.
  •  Understanding and appreciating personality differences – you are each different in your own way, and you each have different needs. It is important to recognize and embrace these differences. This begins with increasing self-awareness of your own goals, needs and values.

Pre-marriage counseling encourages productive conversations and helps couples work through issues that they were not yet aware of. It also helps to identify relationship strengths, and prevent future problems. It is important to remember that disagreements are part of every relationship. Couples often need support with managing stress and differences together as a team.

Getting married is much more than simply walking down the aisle. It is about building a life together, growing, and working towards a common intention.  The idea of premarital counseling can be intimidating to couples that don’t want to stir up conflict, but it is a proactive step in relationship success.  Contrary to popular belief, couples who receive some sort of premarital counseling report higher marriage satisfaction and are less likely to get divorced in five years. There may be some difficult conversations and it may not be easy, but counseling helps you set a strong marital foundation from the very beginning. 

To learn more about the Prepare/Enrich program and discover therapists, clergy and counselors trained in this model near you, click here

To learn more about the premarital offerings at A Good Place Therapy, visit our website here. We also offer this service around the world or around the corner, virtually. We recommend a minimum of four sessions and offer special pricing for packages starting at six sessions. 

Heather Sutter, LCSW is a Senior Associate at a Good Place Therapy & Consulting, where she works with young adults, teens, families and couples. To find out more about Heather, please visit her page on the website here.