Genesis Counseling Center
Premarital Counseling

Premarital counseling is counseling for engaged couples or those who are in a serious, committed relationship. You do not have to be experiencing relationship problems to benefit from premarital counseling. In fact, many couples who receive premarital counseling report that spending time with and learning about their future spouse is the most helpful part of premarital counseling. The goal of premarital counseling is skills building by bringing up issues and discussing them as a couple. You can focus more on areas of discussion if there are few areas of conflict, or if you are experiencing relationship conflict, your counselor can help you work through disagreements.

Research has found that couples who receive premarital counseling have better relationship adjustment compared with similar couples who do not. Premarital counseling can also help couples have higher levels of satisfaction and commitment to their marriage, and lower levels of conflict and chance of divorce. Studies suggest that premarital counseling is generally beneficial for a wide range of couples, regardless of race/ethnicity, income, and education level.

Some things that you can discuss with your counselor in premarital counseling include:

Some things that you can discuss with your counselor in premarital counseling include:

There are several programs designed for premarital counseling that are appropriate for religious or nonreligious couples (PREPARE and PREP are two such programs). You may wish to discuss these with your counselor and ask his/her recommendations for counseling. Reading books at home can also enhance the premarital counseling experience and give you plenty of discussion points. There are many excellent resources, both faith-based and secular, for engaged couples (some helpful resources are included below). Many books also have companion workbooks or discussion guides that you may wish to discuss together as a couple or with your counselor.

After premarital counseling, you can continue working on your relationship through groups in your church or community. Couple groups at church, marriage mentoring programs, and Bible studies can help you continue to grow together as a couple. You are also encouraged to schedule a follow-up session with your counselor a few months into marriage to “check in” on how things are going. If problems arise in the future, you are always welcome to revisit your counselor for additional guidance.

Interested in premarital counseling? Several of our counselors specialize in couples counseling and provide counseling to premarital couples. Call Genesis Counseling Center Hampton/Chesapeake Office at 757-827-7707 or Williamsburg Office at 757-564-3100.

Written by Camden Morgante

Premarital Counseling Package:

Tracey Crawley, LMFT offers premarital counseling using the PREPARE inventory. Once the on line assessment is complete premarital couples participate in 9 hours of feedback, education, and counseling in either 9-1 hour or 6-90 minute sessions. Interested couples may be scheduled on Tuesday evening at 7 PM in the Genesis Hampton location for a 45 minute assessment and screening interview.

PREPARE/ENRICH is a customized couple assessment completed online that identifies a couple's strength and growth areas. It is one of the most widely used programs for premarital counseling and premarital education. But there are also customized versions of the inventory used for marriage counseling, marriage enrichment, and dating couples considering engagement. Based on a couple's assessment results, a trained facilitator provides 4-8 feedback sessions in which the facilitator helps the couple discuss and understand their results as they are taught proven relationship 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:


Helping couples strengthen or salvage their relationship is no easy task. How do you encourage productive conversations? How do you address issues couples have if they are not yet aware of their problems? How do you identify their relationship strengths? What relationship skills can you teach to help couples resolve current issues and prevent future problems? How can you quickly understand a couple's needs and maximize your impact?

PREPAPARE-ENRICH by Life Innovations is a program designed to build stronger marriages and prevent divorce. The PREPAPARE-ENRICH Program enables counselors to identify a couple’s specific strength and growth areas, understand each other’s personality and hardwiring, teach them communication and conflict resolution skills, and help them resolve key relationship issues. This valuable program is customized for dating, premarital, step couples and remarriages, marital and transitional couples (over 50). See the web site for complete details on all the programs, services, and research base. There are three specialized assessments for couples considering foster care or adoption, and for those whose primary focus is on parenting. Group format is also available.

What are the major goals of the PREPARE/ENRICH Program?
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:

How do I get started?

Genesis Counselors trained to provide the PREPARE-ENRICH Program:

Suggested Readings and Resources

The Hope Couples Project
The Hope Couples Project is a resource center for couples, pastors, and professional therapists using the Hope-focused approach to couples counseling or enrichment. Through a university-based research project, couples participate in an 8 to 10 week treatment protocol investigating the Hope approach to couples intervention.

Parrott, L. & Parrott, L. (1995). Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.
The book addresses seven questions to ask before you marry, including such topics as marriage myths, love styles, personal happiness, communication styles, gender differences, conflict resolution, and spiritual intimacy. Couples will also find the questions at the end of each chapter, companion workbooks, and exercises helpful as they communicate their expectations for marriage with their future spouse.

Penner, C. & Penner, J. (2004). Sex 101: Getting your sex life off to a great start. W. Publishing Group: Nashville, TN.
This book is meant as a guide for premarital couples to help them transition to a healthy marital sexuality. For those that have difficulty in this area, this book can be helpful. This book lays out the facts about sexuality as well as asking them to consider their moral and ethical beliefs about it.

PREPARE/ENRICH by Life Innovations
PREPARE/ENRICH is a program for premarital preparation and marital enrichment that is offered by both professional counselors and pastoral counselors. The program uses a comprehensive couple assessment combined with feedback and skill-building exercises.

Wright, H. N. (2005). Now That You’re Engaged. Ventura, California: Regal Books.
This book takes you through thirteen “commitments” couples make to each other when they make a commitment to marriage. This book will help engaged couples learn how to make wise decisions together, understand each other, listen and communicate more effectively, resolve conflicts, forgive each other, prepare for common problems, and pray together.