I’ve been looking forward to joining up with #LoveBlog for the past few weeks! If you already subscribe to the Provocative Joy newsletter, you know what I’m introducing! If you haven’t subscribed to my monthly update, you can find the sign-up box at the end of this post (it even counts as an entry in the giveaway). It’s where I get a little more personal, share blog-news and how I’m living out what I write about.

I’m linking up today and February 23rd. This is a link-up and collaboration through the month of February where we blog about love, secrets, relationships, and a lot more. You can find the full list of prompts and rules here. There’s also a giveaway you can enter below!Premarital Counseling: Helpful, but not crucial; Provocative Joy; #LoveBlog2017

My Love Story

Ruben and I have been married for almost 4 years. Our anniversary is April 7th and that day was one of the happiest days of my life. A bit of history for you: I got an email from a stranger via meetup.com looking for friends in the area and explaining that he was new to my city. We hit it off before we even met in person and once we met in person, there was no stopping us. I loved how encouraging, even-tempered, and handsome he was. He accepted me for who I was and was so respectful of my boundaries and faith.

Looking back, it was a whirlwind, storybook romance. We started falling in love from the moment we met and there was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to move forward with him. We met in January of 2012, he bought a ring in May, and we were engaged in October on my birthday! Our 6-month engagement flew by.Premarital Counseling; #LoveBlog2017; Provocative Joy

A Problem Comes Up

As wedding plans got underway, the topic of premarital counseling came up. I remember walking around the neighborhood where I grew up, hand in hand with my soon-to-be husband, when he surprised me. He told me he wasn’t really into the idea of premarital counseling. I can remember him confessing that he didn’t like the idea of seeking out someone’s opinion other than us. How can they really know or say without being in our shoes?

That surprised me. My conservative Christian background led me to see premarital counseling as something you just did and I was actually excited about that part. I’m a planner and a discusser. I also naturally gravitate towards doing things the “right” way. I am a typical oldest child and people-pleaser. As I grow and learn, I increasingly realize there are many ways to do everything, but at the time? No premarital counseling? It was foreign to me.

Differences and compatibility

My husband is more private than I am, and for most things, he doesn’t need to “talk it out” like I do. He doesn’t have the same desire for other’s approval either. In addition, he didn’t think we should be giving anyone with limited insight input into our decision, our future union, and our plans. As we walked around my childhood neighborhood, I realized we were coming from entirely different places.

Ultimately, we did end up going through a curriculum with our pastors. We read through Before We Say I Do by Marvin McMickle which covers 7 topics to discuss while engaged. We also did a one-time session with a counselor trained to interpret the results of PREPARE/ENRICH online assessments (which happens to be today’s sponsor!).

At the time, those counseling sessions reinforced my belief that I was doing everything the “right” way. We were on the same page, very emotionally connected and open with each other, and we discovered no red flags. The sessions introduced new topics that were helpful, but I still don’t think it was entirely necessary.

What Prepare/Enrich Told Us:

After taking the online PREPARE/ENRICH self-assessment, we went to see a psychologist for one session. It’s a bit nerve-wracking because both of us took the quiz separately which instructed us not to discuss answers with each other. The visit to the psychologist felt like walking into a compatibility diagnosis: Will he tell us we can make it???

All I remember from that hour-long meeting was him literally telling us he had never seen such compatible results. He repeated throughout the meeting that we had nothing to worry about because we were so well-matched! We had to laugh as we left saying, “Way to go us!”

That’s hilarious because, if you haven’t met my husband and me, we are total opposites in SO many areas. A few similarities that come to mind? We are both introverts, Puerto Ricans, and Christians. Yet even within those categories we don’t share much in common! We had entirely different upbringings and relate to our ethnic identity very differently. If there are different types of introverts, we definitely don’t match up, and the way we understand faith brings us to fairly different perspectives and worldviews.

Why premarital counseling shouldn’t be decisive

This leads to very stimulating conversations to say the least, and it also tells me that a counselor can barely see the tip of the iceberg. Our experience with premarital counseling was great at the time, but over the past 4 years, I can’t say we would’ve missed much without it. It was not crucial for us.

  1. A counselor, psychologist, or pastor’s opinion shouldn’t carry more weight than those in the couple’s inner community. They should be one part of the puzzle and their insight should be taken objectively.
  2. Most of the recommended topics for engaged couples to discuss are better initiated on their own, at their own pace, and if severe disagreement arises, brought to a professional.
  3. By it’s very nature, the “honeymoon” phase will rarely reveal divisive, complicated issues. Couples get along so much differently their first year together because almost every experience is new.
  4. Premarital counseling won’t save you from difficulties or surprises. Every marriage has unexpected bumps and disagreements.
  5. Just because a professional tells you something is true, doesn’t mean it actually is!

Premarital counseling: not for everyone

Of course, my viewpoints are based on my experience and others have different experiences. Lots of factors contribute and I’m aware of how the dynamics of our engagement affected the counseling, like our fast engagement and the way we fell so deeply in love so fast!

We’ve learned a lot in the past 4 years and spent time discussing things that we never thought we’d have to talk about when we were engaged. There’s no way to predict the path life will take. If you’ve read some of my other posts on depression and counseling, you’ll know that therapy and discussion about mental health and taboo subjects is not something I shy away from.

Meet your #LoveBlog2017 Hosts

Ivanna is a registered nurse with a large dose of colorful creativity. She writes at Provocative Joy while working overseas with Mercy Ships. She enjoys the art of head wrapping and the thrill of thrifting. She writes about living intentionally in community, in marriage, and the challenges of making a difference no matter which country she’s in.

Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Bloglovin

Brita Long is the pink and sparkly personality behind the Christian feminist lifestyle blog, Belle Brita. While her first love will always be Paris, she lives happily with her husband Daniel Fleck in the Atlanta area.

Blog // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Facebook // Bloglovin

Sara blogs at Mrs. Imperfect about letting go of perfect and embracing your quirks and messes. She writes about marriage, self love, and mental health. She is a writer, book lover, traveler and crafter, with an interest in the arts, history, and psychology.

Blog // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Facebook // Bloglovin

Elyse blogs about marriage, Vancouver-living, books and everything in between. She’s a legal assistant by day and an avid reader and blogaholic by night. She’s obsessed with Mexican food, the Toronto Blue Jays and true crime shows.

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Meet Your #LoveBlog2017 Sponsor

Built on a solid research foundation, PREPARE/ENRICH is the leading inventory and skill-building program. Now they offer an easy at-home assessment for couples at any stage of relationship. The Couple Checkup is designed to help couples build a more satisfying and intimate relationship. PREPARE/ENRICH is a sponsor of #LoveBlog2017. Check them out here: Facebook // Twitter // YouTube // Blog

17 comments on “Premarital Counseling: Helpful, But Not Crucial”

  1. I love hearing your perspective! We didn’t do pre-marital counselling but I felt the same way your husband did, although I can definitely see the benefit to pre-marital counselling now. No one can truly tell you how to have a successful marriage because every couple is different, everybody’s experience is different. I didn’t do pre-marital counselling because to me, no one knew our relationship as well as us, and no one has every been through our unique situations. Plus, my husband and I talk about EVERYTHING. Nothing is out of bounds.

    • As my husband and I have talked over the years about this, I’ve come to understand why he is hesitant and as he experiences different types of counseling with me, he sees how it’s helpful too. I’m grateful for more insight to his side.

  2. This is such an interesting perspective! I think the benefits of premarital counseling vary on the couple. As a frequent reader of the Relationships subreddit, I’ve come across countless posts about the most obvious topics that a couple should discuss before marriage. Like people actually get married without discussing whether or not they want kids! They get married without discussing their respective financial situations! I thought topics like this were obvious, but apparently they’re not. So that’s why I advocate not just premarital counseling, but pre-engagement counseling.

    • I think it is bizarre how some couples don’t discuss major issues before getting married. Or get married knowing that they disagree on something big, like whether or not they want to have kids.

  3. This is interesting. We did pre-martial counseling and it was very helpful. If nothing else, it provided support and we welcomed an outsider’s perspective because sometimes there are things we can’t see from the inside. I also think it’s important to maintain your relationship after you get married too. So I definitely don’t think it should end there. I also think it depends on the type of counseling you receive. Either way, happy it worked for you two!

    • In general, I still think premarital counseling is a worthwhile investment and I’m glad that we had the experience. I also plan on continuing different types of counseling as we go on in our marriage.

  4. I have always thought counseling is great. It works for so many people. My husband and I did not do pre-marital counseling though. We had been through the ringer before we got married. Even separating for a while before getting back together and then deciding to marry. Each couple needs to find a way that works for them to work on their issues.

    • I hear a lot of couples that were together for years before marrying say something similar to what you say. Premarital counseling seems especially useful for couples that haven’t had certain topics come up naturally because of the short time they were engaged or dating.

  5. I definitely think there are some crucial conversations every couple needs to have before getting married, but I don’t think premarital counseling is 100% necessary.

    Before my husband and I got married, our pastor asked us to take the Myers-Briggs personality assessment. He told us that, depending on our results, he might recommend another session. It turns out we are complete opposite personalities! Our pastor said that experts often see that as a red flag, but then he revealed that he and his wife are also (perfectly happy) opposites. That being said, it depends on the couple! He could see that we are deeply dedicated to each other and we’ve had all the necessary talks.

    • Emily, this is a funny story to illustrate that everyone is different and there is no way to predict exactly what the challenges will be. Thanks for sharing!

  6. My husband and I never had any pre-marital counselling because we grew up in two different countries at the time . I like your perspective although I felt along the journey in my marriage that someone had counselled us. I carried a lot of baggages and bought them into my marriage and therefore some counselling would have saved me from handling difficult situations differently. Notice I only said “some counselling” because no counsellors can teach us about marriage what God would want to teach, heal,reveal to us through our marriage.

    God bless

    • Diana, thanks for sharing your story. I also entered marriage with a lot of baggage and probably should have invested in counseling even after the wedding. I’ve come a long way since then, but I think I worked through it the hard way. I’m also thankful that God carries me through!

  7. Love your love story! What a bless iing how you met. Also love your take on trusting yourselves in premarital discernment.. Therapist are not God! Many are so flawed..we went one to a counselor when we were struggling who suggested divorce! We are married 21 yes now! And love is strong and beautiful even with flaws!

    • I’m happy to share a little window into our beginnings. There are so many good stories that follow that one! As for our counseling, finding a counselor or pastor you trust makes a big difference.

  8. We didn’t do premarital counseling exactly, the prime reason being become we were never in the same place before we got married. We did get one of those sort of books with topics and questions to discuss about our past and our expectations for the future. What’s always been funny to me is that for us, some of the ‘expectations’ we agreed about on the phone during our pre-marriage discussions went right out the window when we got married, because they just weren’t right for us in real life. It’s good to know each other’s expectations, but it’s even better to adapt to current life circumstances!

    • Haha, I totally agree that sometimes you think you know what you want before you get married, but those things change when you experience marriage in reality.

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