First, I see each person separately, and then I see the couple together. We focus on short and long-term goals for each person, and for a marriage. Each person must determine if they are well matched with their intimate other.
Premarital counseling is intended to prevent problems, and to figure out if the relationship can be improved prior to a marriage. Problems with communication, conflict resolution, and issues from each person’s past are addressed.
Given that some couples may not realize they have differences to deal with, I point out these differences to come to middle ground. This increases the odds for a happy marriage, and in some cases, premarital counseling raises a yellow flag for issues that must be dealt with prior to a final commitment to marriage.
Values and expectations about sex, money, religion, children and work are some of the issues needing a full analysis. In some cases, potential spouses define marriage differently—a problem that must be dealt with. The line between privacy and secrecy and how each person views this line is thoroughly discussed.
Issues from each person’s past—their family, friends and previous relationships—are all focused on. Homework is given between sessions to deal with distorted thoughts and communication. Dr. John Gottman’s approach is melded with that of cognitive behavior therapy.
The length of therapy depends on the severity of problems discovered. In some cases, premarital counseling is short, and in other cases, more sessions are appropriate.