Generally, couples should consider which of the following profiles best fits their situation and act accordingly:
1) Pre-Engagement premarital counseling. This is where the couple are sensing that they are moving in a more serious direction in their relationship and want to explore how compatible they are BEFORE they have to deal with all the pressures of engagement (wedding plans, announcements, timelines, deposits, expectations of family and friends, etc.). This is the optimal choice for those who have the time and foresight to plan ahead.
For this profile I use the Prepare-Enrich Premarital Inventory, a nationally administered computer assessment that identifies your strength and growth areas as a couple, working through the results over six to eight meetings in order to lay a foundation for your future relationship. It can be customized for never married, second marriages, blended families, different faith backgrounds, etc.
2) Pre-marital counseling AFTER engagement during the waiting period before the wedding. For those whose wedding date is fairly far off (six months or more) this can work out well, but for those who are trying to squeeze the six to eight sessions in before their wedding in two months, this can add to the considerable stress they are already feeling and can end up becoming a “check off the list” obligation, undercutting the value of the experience.
I also use the Prepare-Enrich Inventory for this profile as well but sometimes end up condensing the results due to time constraints.
3) You are already engaged, may or may not have a wedding date, but you are having one or more serious struggles in your relationship and are feeling stuck.
For this profile the best approach is to engage in the traditional counseling process to zero in on where you are stuck in your relationship and move in a more positive direction. Using the PREP Inventory can come later after future consideration.
Please contact me if you have questions, desire clarification of the above information, or wish to consult regarding which option is best for your situation.