Pre-marital counseling is essential for any couple that wants to have a successful marriage. There are many different Premarital Counseling techniques that can help couples prepare well for marriage.
Some counselors focus on the emotional aspects of relationships, while others focus on practical skills and techniques. No matter what type of counseling you choose, it’s important to find one that works well with your relationship!
One popular method is Gottman Method Couples Therapy which focuses on four key areas – building friendship, managing conflict, creating shared meaning, and developing social support systems.
This therapy was developed by Dr. John Gottman( the Author of Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work) who has studied thousands of married couples over 40 years! He has found that there are specific behaviors in healthy marriages and these same behaviors can be used to improve troubled ones as well.
First, you should consider what type of counseling style works best for your relationship. If you want to learn more about this method or any other methods available then keep reading. You won’t regret it!
Here are the best resources that go hand in hand with this guide. (Available on Amazon--Start a 30-day free trial here)
- Preparing for Marriage Couples Guide
- Preparing for Marriage Leaders Guide
- The Meaning of Marriage-Timothy Keller
- Devotions for Engaged Couples- Gary Thomas
Not sure where to start with a premarital counseling conversation, start here.
Get 20% on your first month of online therapy here.
There are many different styles:-Let’s explore them
Gottman Method Couples Therapy
The Gottman Method Couples Therapy is designed to be a one-on-one therapy session. This therapy focuses on four key areas – building friendship, managing conflict, creating shared meaning, and developing social support systems.
Why Building Friendship?
This therapy is based on the premise that friendship is a core requirement for marriage and that if this base isn’t strong, then the relationship will suffer over time.
Friendship serves to enhance communication in relationships while also providing a secure environment for couples to be who they truly are. Research shows that couples who are more compatible with one another can communicate more effectively and work together to address challenges rather than avoid them.
Why Managing Conflict?
We all know that conflict is a necessary component of any relationship, but the key is finding ways to manage conflict.
There are five “horsemen” in any relationship which indicate trouble ahead – criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling (withdrawing from an argument), contempt, and negativity. Gottman has stated that these five horsemen are the most significant predictors of divorce.
However, he also found four positive behaviors in healthy marriages – affection, humor, validation (respecting your partner’s viewpoint), and empathy. These behaviors can be used to improve troubled relationships as well!
Why Creating Shared Meaning?
Research shows that couples who have shared meaning in their lives tend to be happier and more satisfied with their relationship.
This therapy helps couples build a sense of unity, purpose, identity, belongingness, and interdependence between them. This is important for any couple to have so that they can feel united despite life’s challenges!
Why Develope Social Support Systems?
Social support systems are what help us get through life’s challenges. This therapy helps couples to create a social support system that is shared between them and their friends, family members, children/family from a previous marriage(s), etc. It provides the couple with an additional source of strength in times where they need it most.
The goal of the Gotman method is to help couples find ways to encourage one another, listen with empathy and respect, express gratitude for the relationship they have built together, resolve differences in a healthy way, improve their communication skills so that arguments don’t escalate out of control.
This therapy has helped thousands of struggling couples rediscover how fulfilling marriage can be when you are both committed.
Imago Relationship Therapy
The Imago Relationship Therapy was developed by Dr. Harville Hendrix in 1979 to address the needs of individuals who are struggling within their relationships. This therapy incorporates three important pieces:-
Dr. Harville Hendrix is the author of the famous book Getting the Love You Want A Guide for Couples.
- Developing a deep understanding of one’s partner and what makes them tick.
- Learning how to communicate with your partner so that they understand how you feel.
- Learning to understand yourself better so that you can identify your own needs without the influence of a partner. This helps partners start being honest with one another about their feelings instead of letting them build up over time.The goal is to create harmony within the relationship through understanding each other’s thoughts, emotions, and needs.
This therapy is based on the concept that we all have an inner child, also known as our imago (Latin for “image”). This part of us acts like a little kid who has been hurt emotionally in previous relationships and continues to replay this pain over and over again when it comes to future partners.
The Imago Relationship Therapy consists of 12 steps:-
- Imago Profile – this step helps partners learn more about themselves and their partner, how they have been conditioned by previous relationships, what each person’s needs are, and how to communicate better with each other.
- Imago Dialogue – the goal of this step is for partners to create a safe space in which they can express their emotions without fear of judgment or criticism from one another. This allows them to understand where these feelings are coming from so that these conflicts don’t arise later on.
- Taking Responsibility – This step helps partners to take responsibility for their own behaviors and emotions so that they can communicate these needs with one another in a healthy way.
- Sharing Imago – this step encourages each partner to share what was done right during the day, how he/she felt about it, and any positive intentions made towards their partner.
- Self-Parenting – This step helps partners to work through their imago so that they can take responsibility for creating a happy relationship. They learn how to appreciate themselves and what makes them special so that they are more confident in the future relationships which will come their way!
- Love Maps – this is all about learning how to understand one another’s childhood history so that you can identify what influenced your partner to act in a certain way.
- Intimacy Skills – this step helps partners learn how to communicate their needs and desires without judgment, criticism, or harshness. This encourages them not only to open up about themselves but also to feel more comfortable doing the same for their partner.
- Couple Bubble – this step helps partners to maintain a positive relationship with one another even when they are not physically together so that the other person feels loved and special at all times. This means no negative criticism, putting each other down, or feeling jealous of time spent away from each other!
- Genogram Therapy – this step helps partners understand how their behaviors and emotions have been influenced by previous generations.
- Imago Dialogue – going over the previous steps to see what has improved in a relationship, what emotional needs are being met, and any feelings that need working through together as a couple.
- Celebration/Graduation – once all of the steps have been completed for this session, the therapist will lead a discussion with partners about what steps they would like to continue working on in future sessions. This is also an opportunity to celebrate how far each person has come throughout therapy and look forward to continually improving their relationship together!
- Imago Dialogue – going over the previous steps to see what needs improving in a relationship, what emotional needs are being met, and any feelings that need to be worked through together as a couple.
The key to being happy in a relationship is to work through your imago so that you are less judgmental of other people.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Couples CBT
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Couples CBT is another type of therapy that focuses on modifying how individuals think and act in their relationships through the use of practical skills to enhance communication with each other. It’s typically used as brief therapy, running for about 12 weeks. This is because it focuses on teaching people how to alter the way they perceive and interact with others through specific exercises and homework.
CBT focus on patterns of thinking, for example, “catastrophizing” or taking a single event and making it into the end of the world. Changing how people think about their partner’s behavior can help them to respond in more positive ways – which is what this therapy helps couples achieve.
Couples undergoing CBT are asked to track negative thoughts that occur during arguments and how those thoughts might affect their partner’s behavior.
The steps include;
- Identifying self-defeating thought patterns.
- Identifying communication patterns that lead to negative interactions
- Creating a plan for how the couple will communicate with one another in more constructive ways.
Once they’ve completed that, they’re instructed to practice these abilities and see whether or not they made a difference in their relationship. CBT finds that couples who have been doing nice things for their partner related to basic needs, positive displays of affection, and other helpful actions should have a better chance of success.
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
This type of counseling is based on the notion that our connections with others are formed via emotions. It’s based on attachment theory, which claims that early attachments provide the basis for most of our relationship ties. This can be risky because it’s easy to get carried away by your emotions when interacting with someone you love.
However, this type of therapy also has strong research supporting its effectiveness in helping couples overcome issues they encounter while working together as a couple. Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) was developed by Dr. Sue Johnson in the 1980s. It focuses specifically on building emotional connection and attachment between the two partners which allows them to communicate more clearly about their needs, wants, desires, etc…
How does EFT work?
The therapist helps couples identify how they may have been disconnecting emotionally from one another throughout their relationship – for example, if there was a lack of intimacy or affection over time due to thoughts or feelings towards each other that they didn’t express.
The therapist asks both partners to share and consider whether or not these thoughts and feelings were accurate. If the answer is yes, then they help them find ways to move forward and reconnect with each other in a positive way.
Using a safe and supportive environment, the therapist guides couples through exercises that help them communicate their emotions more frequently and effectively to one another so that there is less disconnection between them which leads to better intimacy overall.
Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT)
Solution-focused brief therapy is a goal-oriented type of counseling that doesn’t aim to discuss the past or dwell on problems. SFBT is a short-term type of counseling that focuses on solving current problems instead of exploring past ones.
It’s a solution-based approach that works to help the couple identify what they want from their relationship and how they can achieve it. By identifying these solutions, this therapy is able to get right down to helping solve problems in order for couples to feel more satisfied with their relationships overall – which makes them less likely to seek counseling again in the future.
SFBT is an effective approach to counseling because it brings couples together by focusing on their strengths instead of what they need to fix or improve.
The therapist uses open-ended questions to help couples identify what they want from their relationship, how they can achieve it, and areas in which both partners are contributing. This helps them realize that their problems are shared rather than belonging solely to one person or the other – which allows them to feel more connected with each other.
By helping them identify what’s working in their relationship, couples are able to feel satisfied with the progress they’ve made and see how much better life is when there isn’t constant fighting or disconnection between them.
Such questions include;
- What would you like to see happen differently in the next few months?
- Are there any new ways that we can show our love for each other?
- How can I better contribute as a partner and fill your needs, wants, desires?”
Insight-oriented therapy (IOT)
Insight-oriented therapy (IOT) This type of counseling is more focused on the past than solution-focused brief therapy.
IOT is based on psychodynamic theory, which claims that emotional problems are rooted in unconscious conflicts and internalized emotions from childhood experiences – mostly stemming from the relationship with their parents or other significant adults growing up.
This can be problematic because it focuses more on why people feel a certain way and rarely considers how the present can be improved to make life easier.
IOT is a form of long-term counseling that encourages people to revisit their past and identify what they feel has led them to behave in such unhealthy ways when it comes to relationships (including couples trying to work through misunderstandings, fights, etc…).
While this type of therapy may cause people to feel bad about themselves and their past, it does have a lot of practical applications for improving the present and future.
Insight-oriented therapists use open questions to help clients explore emotional problems that stem from childhood experiences that cause them to behave in ways they don’t understand.
Such questions include:
- What led you to become so defensive?
- What triggered you to say that comment just now?
- How did you feel about what I was saying when it made me angry?”
The therapist will also ask more probing questions to help them identify what might be causing such patterns in their adult relationships. These types of questions include:
- What did your parents do when you got angry?
- Did they respond with anger or harsh words?
- How does this apply to our relationship?”
A premarital counselor might choose to use any of the above techniques to help a couple in their relationship.
While not every relationship will work out, utilizing premarital counseling can help couples strengthen their bond and feel less like they’re walking into marriage blind.
This leads to better communication skills and more realistic expectations of what life together might be like – which makes it easier for them to fight through the tough times when things get rough because they know how to work through them.
Let us know in the comment section which other counseling therapy we should include. Share this post with your friends and family to help spread awareness of how helpful premarital counseling can be when it comes to a healthy marriage in the future!