Written by Rontel

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to getting married. What works for some, may not work for others — and that’s OK! But, have you ever seen an engaged or married couple with fundamental issues that make it hard to wonder why they’re even together in the first place? 

There are many things that divide couples at all stages of a relationship: honesty, ambition, income, communication, infidelity and the list goes on. 

When I look back on my dating life, all of the relationships that ended badly had big red warning signs in the very beginning. These warning signs should’ve been an indicator for us to move on and cut our losses early. But instead, I ignored them (we ignored them) and tried to work past them, because relationships require work, right? 

The truth of the matter is that, yes, relationships do require work. But if you are considering marriage with your soulmate, it’s best to do marriage counseling before getting down on one knee, and here are a few reasons why:

1. Many people don’t have a true understanding of what marriage really is.

I have so many friends who jumped into relationships with people that they found physically attractive. They had fun together. They went to the club together. They loved to "Netflix and chill." But these things cannot be the foundation for a life-long partnership. A marriage has to be built on something stronger, like communication and mutual respect, along with physical, spiritual and emotional security. These are what help couples power through the imminent storms that we all experience in life.

2. If you want to do counseling through a church, many pastors won’t counsel couples who already have a date set.

The purpose of marriage counseling is to have a third party help guide a couple through a thorough assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of their relationship. Couples dive deep into things from their childhood. They talk about their desires. They even talk about the issues that they have with their partne — to their face! Many issues that are present in a relationship will surface during counseling and the pastor (or counselor) will help the couple utilize techniques to best guide them through their issues. But, in some cases, the issues that arise may be static, fundamental ones that won’t change, which may give one or both parties second thoughts.

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3. Marriage counseling before proposing provides you with the assurance that you need.

I had known very early after meeting my fiancé that I wanted to marry her. Sometimes in life you just know! When I assessed my own readiness for that serious of a commitment, I was further convinced that asking her to marry me was a good idea. But if you’re like me, you’ve probably been in relationships before where marriage crossed your mind, but the relationship ended before it ever came to fruition. For me, this time would be different. Counseling helped us deepen our commitment and understanding of each other. It strengthened our trust for one another. It assured us both that a lifetime of happiness was on the horizon — all that we had to do was continue along God’s path for our lives.

4. Your compatibility will be tested.

There are a lot of things that keep couples together that shouldn’t, such as social status, physical attraction, income and the list of shallow traits goes on. Don’t get me wrong, none of these things are bad. However, when these things form the basis for why you love a person, your relationship will crumble when tested. Counseling helped me and my fiancé to have those hard conversations about insecurities. It helped us have those hard conversations about financial expectations. We talked about how many kids we would have and how we think they should be raised. We talked about how we felt about each other’s friends and families, and how our relationships with them affected the other person. We even talked about spirituality and what role our christian faith would play in a potential marriage between us. We left each session feeling even more in love with each other, especially after our pastor informed us that we were one of the most compatible couples that he had ever seen.

5. It helps you resist the temptation to get others involved before you are absolutely sure.

Social media can trick people into doing things that they are not ready for. Everybody wants to have their engagement photos featured on prominent Instagram pages. It’s normal to want your friends and family to be happy that you are tying the knot. But the beauty isn’t in getting married, it’s in staying married. Marriage counseling helps you to make an informed decision before opening your relationship up for the world to see. 

It was marriage counseling that gave me the assurance I needed to be confident that my relationship had a strong foundation to build on, that wasn’t based on worldly things that are here today and gone tomorrow (i.e. money, a nice car and physical attractiveness). Instead, I knew that we had something that would last and persevere when tested. And when I finally made the decision to talk to her parents about proposing and buying a ring, I was even more confident in answering questions about why I believed that this was a good idea— marriage counseling forced us to do research and put in the necessary work to feel confident in buying a ring, expressing our love on social media, merging our friend and family circles and so much more.

This is not a universal formula that works for every couple, but it worked for us, so I highly recommend it.

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