By Misty R. Lawrence, LMFTA, LPCA, MMFT

Picture of a couple in love

I love to see the delighted faces of engaged couples as they enter the therapy room. It is a picture of hope, joy, and eagerness at the thought of marriage and a life together. Establishing a solid foundation in a premarital relationship is the first step towards a successful marriage. As Christians, God has blessed us with unique gifts and abilities that have appealed to our spouse. As humans, we have grown up in a sinful world causing heartache and imperfection. Premarital therapy allows the couple to explore the beauty and complexity of their future spouse through a safe and productive approach. Though not an exhaustive list, here are four areas that are explored in premarital therapy: mindset, well-being, context, and dynamics.

Mindset reflects how each partner approaches marriage, including their personal beliefs and fears about marriage. Each partner’s mindsets are explored to see where they agree and where they might have areas of conflict.

Well-being considers the overall welfare of each individual; what their personal struggles may be and how well they are currently coping. It is important that they both know and understand how their past, as well as present struggles may have an impact on their relationship.

Context addresses the more commonly known, and expected elements, of premarital therapy: finances, expectations, spiritual life, sex, and social support of the relationship. Each of them is important and may prevent grand disappointment or frustration when processed in early years.

Finally, the dynamics of a couple considers the personality of each person, and how they complement or create division. For example, the little things that are so attractive in the early years may be perceived as irritation in later years. Understanding how communication, conflict, love, and personal needs are expressed, in light of unique personality, is a game changer!

Like personal growth, relational growth is a lifelong journey. Entering marriage with a desire to know and be known completely by your partner is a beautiful gift. For married couples that may not have experienced this kind of premarital preparation the same approach may be used with a goal of deepening the current relationship. As a therapist, it is a delight to walk alongside these brave couples as they begin laying their strong foundation.