May 1, 2023
What to Expect from Premarital Counseling versus Couples Therapy
Written by Sara Lane
Counseling is intended to be a safe space for both couples and individuals.
No matter your stage of life, therapy can be an opportunity for you to practice social and emotional tools that will be a resource for you for a lifetime to come.
Whether you’re just getting into a relationship or you’ve already got the ring, here are some topics you and your significant other may tackle in premarital counseling and couples counseling:
Topics to Cover in Premarital or Couples Counseling
Who you are as a person is likely a big part of why your significant other chose a relationship with you! Your unique personality traits, sense of humor, smile, hobbies, and way of life go hand in hand with what you bring to your relationship.
By discovering more about yourself and your partner, you can discover the ways in which you may be uniquely fitted to each other.
Additionally, you may find that some of the ways your significant other was raised, their personality traits, or other attributes of their way of life may be triggering or argument-inducing to you.
And vice versa.
Discovering your differences may be intimidating at first. “What if we’re too different for each other?” you may be wondering.
However, differences are what make a couple stronger. When you understand the ways in which both of you thrive and the ways you differ, you can prevent future arguments and hurt feelings – all while coming up with a plan to process those experiences together.
This experience should be one that brings you closer together throughout your therapy journey.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Everyone has areas in which they excel and things they’re not so skilled at.
Maybe your strengths include:
- Conflict resolution
- The ability to go with the flow
- Standing up for yourself and speaking your mind
- Intuitive empathy for the other person’s feelings
- Emotional vulnerability
- Protective instincts
- A calm and collected personality
- A great sense of humor
- Attention to detail
Or a host of others! Whatever aspects define you, you can use to improve your relationship and strengthen yourselves as a couple.
You may find that while you’re excellent in some areas, you may struggle in others.
For example, if one person is really good at being vulnerable with their emotions and communicating how they’re feeling, but isn’t great at speaking their mind when something isn’t right, they may be more likely to keep quiet about things that are bothering them.
This insight can give the other person a heads up that they may need to ask their significant other about their experiences in the relationship to make sure their voice is heard.
Whatever strengths you bring to the table can help spur your relationship on towards growth and positive development!
Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of your significant other can help put out a lot of fires before they start.
This is a key topic in most couples and premarital counseling.
The topic of infidelity or cheating is a major issue that often necessitates a third party mediator like a therapist.
Reaching out for help to talk about particularly messy topics like cheating is an essential step in bringing resolution to your relationship and your own heart.
While it may be difficult to enter into a counseling relationship with your significant other to talk about this painful subject, it can make a big difference in your quality of life moving forward.
Each counselor approaches cheating differently. Some counselors prefer to do a thorough inspection together of all of the details surrounding the event. This may include:
- who cheated,
- specific details of the infidelity event,
- how long this has lasted,
- who else was involved, and
- other pertinent details.
Their goal is to have open communication to prevent future issues from snowballing into the same result.
Other counselors prefer to leave these in the past and start with a clean slate in counseling. The intent is to give both partners a chance to reset their relationship and begin again.
If you’re not sure how your counselor plans to approach counseling for infidelity, reach out to him or her and ask their intentions.
No matter what you’re discussing in the counseling session, therapy should always be a place of safety and free of judgment.
In this space, you and your significant other can work together to find a plan that works for you moving forward.
This might look like:
- Describing the ways your relationship looks differently now
- Noting the problems that your relationship had before the cheating started
- Asking questions related to the cheating event
- Sharing the ways the cheating took a toll on your mental/emotional/social state
- Imagining the ideal ways you and your significant other can move forward
- Sharing your emotions towards your significant other in a safe, nonjudgmental space
The process of tackling infidelity is not easy, but it can be very rewarding.
If you and your significant other are just starting the process of engagement and marriage, you may be interested in learning more about the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.
In premarital counseling, some common topics your therapist is likely to bring up include:
- Your goals, dreams, and aspirations
- Your values
- Religion and/or spirituality
- Your future ie. will you have kids, where will you settle down, where will you spend the holidays, etc.
- Family dynamics
- Conflict resolution
- How you handle stress
- How will you handle household responsibilities
- Personal background
For more information for newly engaged couples and those looking at the next step in their relationship, check out this premarital counseling questionnaire with some of the main topics you’ll cover together when you start your sessions.
Grounding & Self Soothing
Get instant access to your free ebook.