PRE-Premarital Counseling

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We’re wrapping up June 2018 and now we are in the thick of summer! Independence Day is right around the corner and vacation plans are in full swing. A variety of outdoor activities fill our respective calendars and it’s time to show off that weight loss and definition you’ve worked so hard to achieve during the prior months!

Another thing that the late spring and summer are known for is weddings. I’m confident that you have either already attended a wedding, plan on attending a wedding, or know of a couple that is engaged and planning a wedding. It’s a beautiful thing…right? Of course, it is!

I think…

Here’s what I’m saying. We can all appreciate a nice wedding…decadent food and a fairytale-like setting as love and passion fill the room. The bride looks impeccable with her beautiful bridesmaids flanked at her side. The groom looks quite debonair as his dapper groomsmen surround him in support of his big day.

But at some point, the newlyweds will depart this memorable event and start their lives together. And according to statistics, 40 to 50 percent of these couples, regardless how much money they may have invested in their wedding plans and honeymoon, end in divorce. Sobering, but true.

Let’s talk about this a bit; keeping OUR community in mind.

  • If you’re African American, it’s more likely than not that your biological or adopted parents are no longer married. This doesn’t suggest that you don’t have a relationship with them, but that they are no longer married to each other.


  • If you’re African American, particularly if you’re born after 1980, it’s more likely that you grew up in a single parent household and that single parent, for the most part, was your mother. This is absolutely the case today in the 21st


Though marriage has its challenges, some couples can weather the marital and life storms and remain true to their vows. However, most of our families often time do not see positive models of marriage to pattern our marital aspirations after. Divorce and blended families are commonplace, and the decision to cohabitate from every age group is skyrocketing. Clearly, our ideals of pre-marital counseling, while effective, doesn’t appear to make a huge difference in this trend. But I have a revolutionary thought—how about PRE-premarital counseling?

And what is this exactly?

PRE-premarital counseling is the decision to receive premarital counseling before you ever meet the person that you think that you want to marry. Yes—I’m suggesting doing this while you’re single and unattached. Or, if you’re seeing someone who you think has marriage potential, consider this route as well (on your own or together, but explain your rationale to him/her so you don’t freak them out).

The reason is simple: too many of our marriages are not lasting. Period.

Marriage is meant to be permanent. That means when things get rough, the couple is willing to do whatever it takes to resolve their differences and move forward with life. This is extremely important because despite however well you think you know a person, other layers of them are revealed in a marriage that often time is impossible to predict because these unknown areas tend to manifest only within the marital context.

Clinical psychologist Scott Braithwaite, who is trained in couples’ therapy, has been studying marital distress and divorce for well over 10 years and is a strong advocate for premarital counseling. Braithwaite says some premarital counseling studies show that premarital counseling decreases the likelihood of divorce by 50 percent. Additionally, premarital counseling confronts the well-known patterns researchers use to predict rapid distress in a marriage. “We are incredibly good at predicting divorce,” he said. “Most of these predictions can be calculated prior to marriage.” He says the most robust indicator of whether a couple will divorce is how they handle conflict.  So, given that premarital counseling has significant benefits, imagine if we put ourselves through this process even earlier to ensure that we have a healthy perspective and expectation of marriage—and again, I want to stress—before we meet Mr. or Mrs. Right.


I’d also add—premarital counseling isn’t the type of counseling that rubber stamps your decision to marry. Rather, it assesses your marital expectation and explores compatibility and offers advice. Way too often couples get engaged and though they agree to go through premarital counseling, their momentum is like a train on the tracks at a 45-degree angle downward. Premarital counseling becomes more of a to-do item on their wedding checklist—along with wedding gown fitting, cake selection, and honeymoon destination. Thus, if you can get insight prior to meeting him or her, you dramatically reduce your chances for a failed relationship because you are better equipped and prepared.


So where do you find PRE-premarital classes? Easy. Just go to your church and inquire if you can sit in on class-style premarital classes that take in multiple couples. Although you don’t have a potential partner, if you explain that you’re just getting a head start, most of the time they will allow you to join the group. If the premarital classes are closed to only engaged couples, perhaps they will offer individual counseling or even start a class for single people who want to be better prepared. Or, see a marriage counselor and tell them your head start approach. And if you’re diggin’ on someone right now, see if they will entertain your suggestion.

The other benefit of PRE-premarital counseling is that it’ll help you to assess who is worthy of your time when exploring a potential mate. If you desire to get married, you’ll quickly discover who’s a serious marital candidate as opposed to a person just looking to hang out for a good time.

Remember: being single is far better than being married and miserable. It’s like comparing apples and nails.




Photo source: Pexels

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  • Camille R Perry

    I wholeheartedly agree with your recommendation, I have been reading various books that I call my premarital preventative maintenance work. I strongly recommend the book The Marriage Builder by Dr. Larry Crabb and Marriage Matters by Tony Evans.

    I do not believe you have to be engaged or married to read material like this.

    Let’s not wait for the day to get prepared!

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