I first want to congratulate you on your engagement and upcoming wedding. Now I want to shock you with a sobering reality. Sure, you’ve heard that the divorce rate in the U.S. for first time marriages is 50% but here’s something you didn’t know–Tennessee ranks #2 in the country in per capita divorce. Yep, our state lags only Nevada in that distinction.
All engaged couples and newlyweds believe they are the exceptional couple. Believing you are exceptional is a good start but the truly exceptional couples equip themselves to consistently DO things differently than the average couple. If the stats tell us the average couple won’t make it, what are you going to DO differently starting NOW to become truly exceptional? This statement is stronger than garlic but I’m here to tell you that your marriage cannot afford to be average, because in our day an average marriage has an expiration date.
A New Approach to Premarital Counseling
Traditional premarital counseling usually involves anywhere from 1-6 sessions with the minister performing your ceremony. All the sessions are before the wedding. Nothing after the wedding. After your wedding day, good luck—you’re on your own. Nothing against clergy (I’ve been a minister for most of my adult life); most marriage counselors approach pre-marital counseling the same way.
My unique and effective approach to pre-marital counseling was featured in an article entitled “Divorcing the Supermodel: Abandoning the Current Model of Premarital Counseling,” published in a 2004 issue of Single Adult Ministry Journal, a nationally distributed periodical for those who work with single adults.
In premarital counseling I utilize the Prepare Profile www.prepare-enrich.com, for years the most widely used and respected premarital relationship inventory among counseling professionals. Not a personality test, the Prepare profile is a self-report assessment of the relationship completed by both partners. The Profile explores the 12 key issues of every relationship.
The Prepare Profile is not only thorough—it is efficient. It would take more than 6 sessions just to ask and access the valuable feedback contained in the Profile. The Profile helps the couple to discover their strength and their growth areas, the areas of compatibility and their areas of difference. Probably one of the best things that occurs as a result of completing the Prepare Profile is that it generates further discussion between the engaged partners. The Profile is designed to facilitate relationship health and growth. Counselor feedback is very straight forward because the profile is very user-friendly and not written in psycho-babble.
What I believe makes my approach unique and more effective is that I actually do fewer sessions prior to the wedding and I insist on meeting for at least four follow-up sessions during the couple’s first year of marriage. Most newlyweds would never dream of scheduling an appointment with a marriage counselor, and yet it is during the first year that high expectations and reality meet at the intersection. It is during the first year that crucial patterns are set—not during the engagement period! Think of these four sessions during the first year as check-ups, like preventive dentistry, only less painful.
Note that my standard rate for marital counseling is $160 per one-hour session. The pre-marital sessions are discounted to $125 and the newlywed sessions are further discounted to $100. Why the discounting? Because I personally want to make a statement regarding my commitment to the value of premarital and newlywed counseling and I want to help remove some of the obstacles to getting superior premarital and newlywed counseling.
- Note that with a signed and notarized document provided by your counselor confirming your participation in premarital counseling, the state of TN will reduce the cost of your marriage license by $70.