Introducing New Science to Pre-Marital Counseling
We have created a new premarital counseling model to give couples a 21st century approach to the important process of preparing for committed relationship. For too long, premarital counseling has relied on outdated programs developed in the 1970s that do not reflect current standards or science for couples counseling work. Such programs do not include the useful applications of relationship neuroscience that have changed couples therapy models over the last 10 years, and also miss other key contributions from modern relationship health theory and training concepts.
Premarital Counseling for Today’s Modern Couples
There has long been a need for a new approach. Not only do current models lack integration with modern concepts and methods of relationship growth and learning, but many such programs still use and reinforce outdated gender stereotypes that today’s individuals may not relate to. In addition to referencing outmoded ideas about the differences between men and women, many programs sometimes also assign relationship and social roles by gender. Our approach does away with outdated gender stereotypes and does not reinforce unscientific ideas about the differences between men and women. We do not assign roles by gender and believe it is up to each couple to determine those roles.
Premarital Counseling for Diverse Couples
We developed a new premarital counseling model, in part, because programs that are widely in use exclude same-sex couples in their materials and language, leaving out a significant percentage of marriages today. There is no scientific basis on which to consider same-sex relationships differently in terms of every couple’s desire and attempt to create a secure, loving and fulfilling bond that supports individual and joint happiness. Our brains and nervous systems, hearts and emotional experiences are virtually the same across all primary human relationships. In a modern era that seeks to embrace and integrate same-sex couples into mainstream cultural life, there is a need for a marital preparation program that is inclusive of all couples. Our program accomplishes that so all couples may feel welcome, accepted, and comfortable as they engage in premarital counseling.
Pre-marital Counseling for the 21st Century
In addition to including same-sex couples in our approach to premarital counseling, we also recognize the importance of including couples who are seeking a committed, long-term relationship in a form other than marriage. Current materials are not written for committed couples who, for whatever reason, are not seeking marriage at this time. There are also cases in which such materials can make those getting married for their second or third time feel excluded from a normal preparation process. All couples, regardless of their relationship lifestyle, how they define their commitment, and whether one or both partners have been married before, deserve to engage in a preparation program that will support them in achieving their relationship goals.
Fully Preparing for Marriage
Our new premarital counseling model incorporates the latest science, and many years of experience doing premarital counseling work with hundreds of couples. We believe a robust preparation program best supports couples to achieve their goals in living fulfilling, happy lives and bringing healthy habits and skills to any existing and new family members. To support couples in the vital dimensions of relationship life, our model covers ten aspects of relationship and helps couples talk about–and even practice–each of them. The ten components of our model are:
- How to create and sustain a feeling of connection
- Emotional intelligence, mutuality, and conflict reduction
- Presence, attachment, romance, and sex
- Mental, emotional, and physical health as well as the role of trauma
- Planning, kids, parenting, and managing family members
- Differences, money feelings, budgeting, and automation
- Career plans and goals, division of labor, and work-life balance
- Creating and maintaining a sense of home, and delineation of chores
- Personality differences, individuality, and the impact of culture
- Developing a culture of growth, resources, and further practice
Bringing New Science to Premarital Counseling
It is necessary to incorporate the latest science into premarital counseling considering how valuable the addition of neuroscience and other disciplines have been to our understanding of relationship health and how to best prepare couples for a fulfilling, secure relationship life. Most programs do not incorporate such science, even though the field of couples counseling as a whole has changed tremendously from the input of modern relationship science. In our premarital counseling approach we incorporate disciplines such as interpersonal neurobiology, experiential therapy, regulation theory, affective neuroscience, adult attachment theory, somatic psychology, and modern approaches to trauma and change. We also make use of the principle that it is better to practice relationship skills than simply talk about them. We’ve learned that couples need a certain automatic facility with such skills under stress and pressure in order to behave in ways that secure the relationship.
Delivering Premarital Counseling to Couples Everywhere
An ongoing issue in premarital counseling today has been ensuring all couples have access to such preparation in a way that is accessible, convenient, and affordable. If partners are not members of a religious congregation, it can be difficult to obtain premarital counseling from a religious institution as part of the engagement process. For the many couples who do not seek counseling preparation from a religious institution, there is the issue of finding a relatable therapist, the cost of working with a private counselor, or in finding the time to engage in such counseling. Our approach not only seeks to update the content of premarital counseling, but also how such counseling is made accessible to couples.
Encouraging a Lifelong Culture of Growth
Partners often need more than just a few sessions covering skills and aspects of relationship life to navigate the stress and complexities of sharing life together over the long-term. We believe strongly in supporting couples to continue their learning together so that they may have the most enjoyable, smoothest, and happiest family life possible year in and year out. Toward that end, we introduce couples to ongoing resources, encouraging them to continue their learning and growth many years into life together.
Stay tuned as we fully develop our new approach to premarital counseling and make it available for couples to benefit from. If you are a provider of counseling services, we hope to support you, as well, to deliver the best premarital counseling available in your community or within your congregation. Follow us on our email list and we will keep you updated with each step we take creating and delivering a new approach for couples to start off on the best foot possible! See you soon, John
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