What to expect when you invest in premarital counseling through MyCounselor.Online

This article is based on scientific evidence and clinical experience, written by a licensed professional and fact-checked by experts.

Posted: November 10, 2023

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

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What to expect when you invest in premarital counseling through MyCounselor.Online

In the article that follows, we will help you to know what to expect in you by: 

  1. The goals and benefits of investing in premarital counseling.
  2. Explaining what kind of therapy to expect and what that might look and feel like from your counselor.
  3. Noting the differences between premarital counseling through a local church or pastor versus an MCO therapist.

Getting engaged is such an exciting experience!  Two people who have dated and learned that they like being with one another enough to take their dating relationship to the next level….”Forever”.  So much time, effort, and planning goes into preparing for the big wedding day.  Deciding on a big event or an elopement, picking a venue, attire, food sampling, photographers, invitations, arguing with families over the guest list, and don’t forget those wedding favors!  It seems like for all the effort, the wedding guests make out just as much as the couple does from all the time and money for this big event before they ever get to start their new life together.  Wouldn’t it be nice, if the couple made out with more than the bill, the memories, and their beautiful wedding photos?  If they could enter their “Forever journey” with something that creates deep confidence and security in the vows that they made to one another?  Well, that’s where pre-marital counseling can come in.

While only 1 in 5 couples engage in pre-marital counseling, statistics show that investing in quality pre-marital counseling improves marital success by 30%, it can reduce the likelihood of future divorce by 50%, and that just 6-9 months of counseling is even more effective than a couple living together before marriage!  Considering that 93% of adults say a happy marriage is a priority within their personal life goals, we can see that this would be a very life-giving investment…. And on average, you’d only need to invest in approximately 8 hours of counseling to bolster your future marriage!

Whether you are dating someone and trying to determine your level of compatibility for moving forward, currently engaged, or already married newlyweds in your early years of the marriage, then pre-marital counseling at MyCounselor.Online can benefit you.

Here’s what you can expect in the process:

During your first session, your Counselor will introduce themselves to you, cover the logistics of the therapy experience, and begin getting to know you.  Covering these pieces early is usually helpful to reduce the anticipation and first time jitters, while helping you to build a good sense of understanding and trust as a team.  Our Counselors will have reviewed your intake paperwork that you did earlier on at scheduling, but they will be eager to hear your own words about how you experience your relationship, what it feels like to be starting this process, and what your goals or concerns are for your relationship and future marriage.

Your Counselor will explain and help you to experience the style of therapy they provide.  At MCO, we pride ourselves in serving our clients through a Neuro-Science Informed Christian Counseling approach (NICC).  This is a faith based and holistic approach that helps a person learn more about the impacts that their mind, body, and soul have on their life experiences.  God hard-wires our nervous system to be adaptive.  Most people are familiar with the term “fight, flight or freeze”, and how our nervous system learns to develop adaptive patterns in response to stressful or uncomfortable situations. Some of these patterns that your nervous system has created are helpful, and others block healthy connection.  A major benefit of getting your premarital counseling from and MCO therapist is participating in this form of experiential work and how the impacts will prepare you for the new kind of openness required of a healthy marriage.

After spending the first session covering the logistical components, getting to know you as a couple, and discussing your goals for the future, then your Counselor will most likely request to schedule an individual session with each of you next. You’ll be asked to complete an assessment(s) in order to get some more background history on you and the experiences that helped shape you and your values today.   This session is not meant to repeat any previous counseling you’ve done, uproot any trauma, or dissect your childhood.  We find that this step truly does help you and your Counselor build more quality time together and learn about the experiences that shape your future patterns.  You can be as thorough as you feel comfortable with during this assessment work.  Most clients find that it was not just helpful, but also enjoyable to get some one-on-one time with their Counselor, as it made them feel “seen” (or understood) more personally before they return to their shared couple’s sessions.

By now, you’ve had your intake, and split for the two individual sessions, so the only thing left to do is return to your 4th session as a couple again and start the main event! You and your Counselor will begin learning more about your unique pattern as a couple and how your perspectives impact the way you do life together.  From this point you can expect to meet for approximately 6-8 more sessions, unless your goals require more thorough work.  Which in that case, they would make their professional recommendation to you.

Our Counselors are SYMBIS certified.  SYMBIS stands for “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts” and is a nationally recognized and evidence-based premarital assessment.  It is used in premarital work to help evaluate the personalities of a couple and identify strengths and challenges that they might expect to encounter throughout their future marriage.  If you agreed to complete the SYMBIS assessment in the beginning of therapy, you will get a detailed review of your results with your Counselor, built into your premarital counseling experience.

Most couples first consider premarital counseling because the pastor performing the ceremony recommends it, or they came up in a church setting that taught this as an expectation.  This is because pastors are “shepherds” of their congregation, and have a call to guide the people in God’s design for marriage.  Many couples might have gone without any formal premarital support if it weren’t for churches requiring it before marrying.  Some churches have SYMBIS certified facilitators within their staff or congregation to help them navigate these talks and make them more robust. With MCO, you will get both a thorough review of your SYMBIS results AND you will get personalized support from a marriage counselor. They will teach you how to channel your personality strengths in the most effective and practical ways, while experientially learning how to connect with your partner in the meaningful ways needed for the transition from dating to marriage.  Additionally, you’ll have established counseling as a resource that you can reach out to for any maintenance needs in life.

For some couples, they know they love (or have strong feelings for) their dating partner, but they may question what “true love” should feel like, or whether this is God’s will for their life.  No one wants to make a mistake or expects to divorce after marriage, but the fear of getting it wrong or not having the tools to do it well, can make even the most loving couples freeze or delay with indecision… or even run prematurely. Premarital counseling can even serve these individuals. We can help them learn how to name their thoughts and experiences, communicate more openly and honestly with each other, and to gain clarity around their goals and values for their life. The therapy sessions would serve as a container of safety for important talks and exploration together. Counselors want to help you share openly with one another so that you can learn if this is the fit that you need for your future, or to identify additional areas you may want to work on. Since we work with reality, we aren’t afraid to help couples wrestle with incompatibility and identify what that means for a healthy and loving future. When a couple gets to work through these areas with the assistance of an unbiased and trained third party, they come out on the other side, more clear and decisive of what they want for their future.

An added benefit of choosing premarital counseling with an MCO therapist is that they are all either a trained or certified christian sex therapist.  Taking your dating relationship to the next level opens one up to an array of thoughts and feelings.  Most get so excited to cash in on the “promise” from christian teachings that sex within marriage is going to be amazing!  This is God’s design, but many pre-marital counseling sessions barely touch the wedding night topic and skirt around the important realities of transitioning from a life of singleness to a committed sexual relationship within marriage.  Regardless of what your sexual journey looked like before marriage (virginity or sexual activity) there is a transition period that tests the narratives and beliefs people carry with them into their new sexual union. It is vital to work with someone who is trained to help you bridge the gap between those two worlds, leaving you more confident, informed, and excited about sex with your future spouse.  Your trained MCO Counselor knows how to bring reality and practical support to your conversations around sex. Some of these conversations could include topics around sexual expectations, the wedding night, nervousness, shame, societal messages, and informing about the challenges that could arise, all so that you can feel more confident, prepared, comfortable, and equipped for this new chapter of life.

Preparing for your wedding with your future spouse is exciting and requires a great deal of preparation, time, and money..  It makes sense that if One Day day for just the wedding alone takes months of investment, than it would be prudent to consider the investment that your “Forever” relationship requires.  Couples that complete premarital counseling set themselves up for statistically significant outcomes of success, they feel more bonded, and become equipped with resources and experiences that will be carried into their marriage for years to come. An MCO therapist is able to offer this opportunity of gaining a deeper sense of self-awareness, and empowering you with tools and new experiences that can set your marriage up for healthy communication, deeper connection, and mutually enjoyable sexual intimacy.  Regardless of your history and timeline, an MCO therapist is ready to help personalize your premarital counseling plan and walk with you towards a deeply connected future with your spouse.  And these are benefits you can reap right away without waiting for the wedding day.  Are you ready to say “I do”?…. We’re here to help!

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This article is based on scientific evidence and clinical experience, written by a licensed professional and fact-checked by experts.

About the Author
Sarah Cowan
Sarah Cowan

Sarah Cowan MS, LPC has a Master’s in Clinical Counseling Psychology. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), holding her license in Colorado.

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