Premarital & Marriage Enrichment Counseling
Premarital and Marriage Enrichment counseling both have the goal of discerning places in the relationship that would be helpful to address, but are not (yet) pressing issues. Both of these are proactive, “preventative” approaches to relationship work. This works well for couples who are already enjoying a decent level of relationship satisfaction, but sense that they are not growing as close as they would like. For example, it can be tempting to “not rock the boat”, but the cost of always placing “no conflict” over a deepening relationship is often distancing and apathy. In relationships there will be some amount of disagreement and conflict with anyone we are truly close with. Conflict itself does not need to be the enemy of close relationships. But it is important to have the necessary tools to navigate conflict in constructive ways. It is possible for both parties to feel heard and understood, even in places of disagreement.
Premarital counseling focuses on preparing couples for the coming changes they will experience with entering into marriage together. There can be some overlap of topics and skills addressed in both Premarital and Marriage Enrichment counseling, such as: Personality Differences; Communication; Sex; Parenting; Finances; Religion and Spirituality; Family Background; Hobbies; Lifestyle Preferences; Career Choices and Goals.
The PREPARE/ENRICH Assessment
As part of the goal of helping couples to spot growth areas before they become problems I sometimes utilize the PREPARE/ENRICH Program in Premarital and Marriage Enrichment counseling. This is a well established, research based assessment tool that I use to pinpoint growth areas to focus on in the counseling process.
Couples who are aware of the places where they get stuck relationally (e.g., having the same fight repeatedly, or consistently avoiding the same topics) will have less of a need for utilizing the PREPARE/ENRICH assessment as they already have some ideas of what they would like to start working on in counseling. But for those who either are in less distress or are less certain of where to start working on deepening their relationship the PREPARE/ENRICH assessment can be a helpful starting point in the couple’s counseling process.
The Couple Checkup Assessment
If you are wanting to give your relationship a “checkup”, but do not feel the need for the extra support of counseling sessions, then the Couple Checkup is a good option. The Couple Checkup is a simplified, shorter version of the PREPARE/ENRICH which offers many of the same benefits, and which you can take independently of working with a counselor. Read more about the Couple Checkup to see if it is the right fit for you and your partner.