premarital counseling

Where it Began

This is the Chapel in Yosemite Valley. It is where I was married over twenty-five years ago.

Premarital Counseling


Statistics show that marriage is much more successful and enjoyable when couples go through counseling prior to saying, "I do."

My pre-marriage counseling has several components:

  1. Compatibility assessment.
  2. Identifying areas of strength in the relationship and flag areas of potential conflict or difficulty.
  3. Teaching skills to help couples prepare for a lifetime together.
  4. Identifying and discussing any risk factors that may need to be addressed at a future time in your marriage.

Compatibility Assessment

The primary tool I use to assess marriage compatibility is PREPARE/ENRICH, which begins with an assessment completed by each individual that identifies a couple's strength and growth areas.  Over 2.5 million couples have taken the PREPARE/ENRICH since it began in 1980.  It explores areas such as communication, conflict resolution, roles, sexuality, finances, spiritual beliefs and other couple, family and personality factors.

Marriage Skills

There are several goals of the PREPARE/ENRICH Program.  In order to achieve these goals there are exercises designed to help couples improve their relationship skills.  The program helps couples:

  • Explore strength and growth areas.
  • Strengthen communication skills.
  • Identify and manage major stressors.
  • Resolve conflict using the Ten Step Model.
  • Develop a more balanced relationship.
  • Explore family of origin issues.
  • Discuss financial planning and budgeting.
  • Establish personal, couple and family goals.
  • Understand and appreciate personality differences.

Examination of Risk Factors

In premarital counseling is it often helpful to identity and explore risk factors.  Every couple has, or will have their challenges.  That is normal.  An awareness of where you might be at risk for these challenges down the road can be instrumental in meeting those challenges, or seeking help early.  Possible risk factors include:

  • Different or unrealistic expectations of marriage.
  • Poor communication and problem solving skills.
  • Financial problems.
  • Dual career demands.
  • Peer group is either unmarried or unhappily married.
  • Differences in the level of commitment.
  • Sexual problems.
  • Cultural or religious and spiritual differences.
  • Child discipline problems or disagreements.
  • New baby in the home.
  • Isolation or geographic separation from friends and family.
  • Young age at the time of marriage.
  • Short engagement or no premarital counseling.
  • Chronic unresolved life stressors.