Why Pre-Marital Counseling is Not Enough

A couple in our church recently got engaged. Knowing that my husband and I have experience doing pre-marital counseling with soon-to-be married couples, they approached us to ask if we would meet with them.

Before we could even schedule a time, the bride-to-be spoke up: “I have a question. Why do we only do this after couples get engaged? Why is there no such thing as pre-engagement counseling?”

She makes a good point. My forehead scrunched as I thought hard about her question. Why don’t we offer pre-engagement counseling?

Pre-Engagement Counseling

Imagine all of the heartache and turmoil that could be avoided if dating or courting couples sought out a structured mentoring relationship with an older married couple.

Imagine how helpful it would be to work through some key marital issues, learn about opinions and convictions, and have intentional discussions before the ring is on the finger.

Maybe you’re already engaged or married, and you’re thinking it’s too late. If that’s the case, use your knowledge and experience to bless another couple in an earlier stage of their relationship.

Look around and see who you could approach about getting together to chat before the guy bends down on one knee. You don’t have to have a counseling degree to be a positive, godly influence.

Consider going through a book with another couple. Set aside an hour a week to read and discuss together. See how you might be able to invest in another couple’s relationship. By doing so, you may be surprised just how much it strengthens your own.

Post-Marital Counseling

Besides the idea of pre-engagement counseling and the more widely practiced pre-marital counseling, what about post-marital counseling?

Yes, I certainly recommend spending as much time and effort in preparation for marriage as possible – but isn’t it true that the most issues arise after the honeymoon wears off, so to speak, and the rubber hits the road?

If that’s the case, why don’t more churches offer regular marriage enrichment courses? Even if they’re offered, why are married couples usually hesitant to seek out such resources and attend events or counseling sessions to strengthen their marriages?

Perhaps one key hindrance is pride. Maybe we’re too afraid to admit our need for help.

Maybe we don’t want people to know we don’t have it all together behind closed doors.

Maybe we don’t think we have the energy to get down to the heart of the matter and resolve underlying tensions and root causes.

Or maybe we think we’re beyond help.

If that’s the case, don’t despair.

Every marriage is made up of two sinners. We all need help. Desperately so.
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Regular Maintenance

We spend money on regular maintenance of our vehicles – oil changes, alignments, tune-ups. We check the tire pressure and add air when needed. Why don’t we do the same for our marriage relationships?

Whatever stage you’re in – whether it’s pre-engagement, pre-marriage, or post-marriage – make time to maintain your relationship.
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Check the spark plugs. Test the brakes. Change the oil. Attend a conference. Read a marriage book. Meet with an older married couple.

Whether or not the warning lights are flashing on your dashboard, do it now – before the wheels come off, and you’re standing stranded on the side of the road.


Kate Motaung is the author of A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging (2018), A Start-Up Guide for Online Christian Writers, and Letters to Grief. She is the host of Five Minute Friday, an online community that encourages and equips Christian writers, and owner of Refine Services, a company that offers writing, editing, and digital marketing services. Kate blogs at Heading Home and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@katemotaung).

  • Kate, there is so much wisdom here! Thank you for sharing…and how have I never seen this website?!? I’ll have to linger here and check it out.

    • Kate

      So glad you discovered it, Mary! Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing!

  • Cherise C.

    Our church actually does this for seriously-dating couples! It’s called the “pre-engagement class”, and it was the BEST thing when my hubby and I were dating! It brought up questions and conversations that we simply wouldn’t have thought of, and gave me so much peace about becoming engaged as we realized that we actually were compatible. A few couples in our class broke up that semester, which is always sad in the short run, but just think of the pain they avoided by realizing they weren’t the best match BEFORE a wedding was underway or had already happened!

    • Kate

      That is such a blessing, Cherise! I’m so glad you shared. I wish more churches would do this!

  • Brenda Trabanino

    Is there a book we can use as a couple as we court and look seriously at getting engaged? We are in a ing distance relationship, so we don’t spend a lot of time face to face. We speak on the phone daily. What would you recommend? Any advice?

    • We recommend Prologue—a free online pre-marital course found at http://www.startmarriagehere.com. It is based on Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages and Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married.It is primarily for engaged couples, but can be used for couples not yet engaged or even those who have been married for years.

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