What every couple should know before they get married

May 22, 2023

Spouse Wants a Divorce

Marriage can be a beautiful journey, but it isn’t always an easy one. Like most things in life that are worthy, a good marriage is something that we earn. We don’t just fall into it. If only it were that easy, right? Behind every good marriage are two partners who have fought for their marriage, even when times were tough.

As a licensed professional counselor who specializes in couples therapy, I see a lot of couples who are in the midst of a fight for their marriage. For a lot of these couples, this is the first time they’ve sought help for their relationship. While I am so proud of them for doing so (and thankful they chose The Marriage Place), it has gotten me thinking about all the things I would want a couple seriously considering marriage to know.

So, with that in mind, here is my list of 4 things all couples should know before they tie the knot.

#1 The first year of marriage is often the hardest

The Honeymoon phase is all about sameness. Your brains are flooded with dopamine, you’re in love, you have so much in common, and you can’t imagine life without this person. But sometime during that first or second year of marriage the Honeymoon phase will end and the two of you will enter a phase of Differentiation. This is when the two of you will begin to notice just how different you really are. You thought you’d never argue about sex, or money, or in-laws. But now, during the stage of differentiation, little annoyances will become bigger annoyances and if you aren’t prepared for this stage, you’ll find yourself less content, fighting more, and questioning whether love should be this hard.

#2 All marriages that last have one critical component in common

Commitment is necessary for any couple to survive the changing seasons of a life together. Now the commitment I’m talking about isn’t only a commitment to each other and to fidelity, but it’s a commitment to put the relationship above all the other things in both partners’ lives. If your relationship is your most prized possession, you will be intentional to protect your union and nurture it even when you become tired, angry and even doubtful you made the right choice. And trust me, you will experience all of those things at some point.

#3 Premarital Counseling isn’t just for couples with problems

It’s for any couple that wants to proactively plan for a healthy marriage. Premarital counseling is preventative! It helps you explore your relationship, identify areas of strength and any possible areas of caution that, left unaddressed, will cause you possible issues later in your married lives. Setting up healthy relationship habits now will prevent big problems later.

According to the statistics, 40% of all marriages ultimately end in divorce within ten years. Since I’ve yet to meet even one couple who married with the intention of eventually getting divorced, that number not only represents a lot of failed marriages, it also represents a lot of pain, disappointment and shattered dreams.

While premarital counseling doesn’t guarantee your marriage will be divorce-proof, it can reduce your chances of divorce by 31%.

#4 Don’t get so lost in planning your wedding that you forget to plan your marriage

The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is quickly approaching $20,000. I’m not here to tell you that you shouldn’t go all out for the wedding of your dreams, but I am telling you not to lose sight of why you are getting married in the first place. There is a study that shows a correlation in wedding spending and divorce rates. The more money spent on the wedding, the higher the rate of divorce. This screams “priorities” to me. Go ahead and make your wedding day as magical as you can but be sure to also invest in the marriage, not just the ceremony. Set aside your time and budget to ensure you are as well-prepared for your marriage as you are for your wedding day.

With that in mind, I should tell you about SYMBIS.

SYMBIS is the acronym for Save Your Marriage Before It Starts

SYMBIS is the premier premarital assessment on the market, and studies have shown that SYMBIS helps a couple feel more confident in their decision to get married and more prepared to navigate a successful marriage.

At The Marriage Place, we use the SYMBIS program to structure much of our premarital work with couples wanting to plan their marriage. This is not a ‘check the box, we did premarital counseling’ kind of experience. SYMBIS is premarital counseling that research shows will lessen your chances of divorce by 31%. It’s also affordable for most couples, coming in at less than 3% of the cost of the average wedding.

How SYMBIS works

It begins with each partner completing an online SYMBIS Assessment. The assessment covers important topics like personalities, communication styles, conflict resolution, finances, family dynamics, and intimacy – subjects that often get glossed over during the dating and honeymoon stages, but that can pop up and become bigger problems later on in a marriage. Your SYMBIS Certified Facilitator will use the results of your assessment to help the two of you navigate these important conversations over the course of two 80-minute sessions. You’ll cover these topics and more, plus identify the strengths of your relationship and also any caution flags that are identified – all to ensure you are prepared to build a healthy marriage together. At the end of the two sessions, you’ll receive a custom 16-page color report that details your results and will serve as your personalized marriage road map.

I really wish SYMBIS had been around 35 years ago when John and I were dating. It took us years to get to a place where we had talked through all of the topics that SYMBIS so gracefully helps a couple cover. You can bet, when the time comes, we will be encouraging (alright, insisting 😉) both of our boys and their future spouses take advantage of all that SYMBIS can offer a couple, because what parent doesn’t want to help their children avoid some of the tough learning they went through early in their own marriage?

Premarital counseling can be one of the best investments you will ever make on your journey towards a successful marriage. If you’d like to learn more about our SYMBIS Premarital Package, you can do so here.


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