If you're reading this, chances are you're either engaged or considering engagement, and you want to ensure you're doing everything you can to start your marriage on the right foot.
You've come to the right place! Online Christian premarital counseling can be a great resource for couples who want to ensure they're prepared for marriage. Here's everything you need to know.
Before we jump in, we wanted to take a quick moment to clarify the difference between counseling/mentoring and therapy.
Counseling or mentoring is typically more short-term in nature, focused on specific topics or goals, and is often provided by clergy or other professionals who are not licensed therapists.
Therapy, on the other hand, is usually long-term, focuses on more deep-seated issues, and is provided by licensed mental health professionals.
Both counseling/mentoring and therapy can be incredibly helpful for couples preparing for marriage. The key is to find the right fit for you and your fiancé.
For the purposes of this article (and our site as a whole), it should be made clear that we're talking about counseling/mentoring and not therapy. We are not licensed mental health professionals, and we cannot and do not provide therapy. If you're looking for a marriage therapist, we'd recommend you find a licensed professional in your area.
Still with us? Cool. Let's keep going.
Online Christian premarital counseling is a type of preventative counseling geared specifically toward helping couples prepare for marriage. You may hear this referenced by a couple of different names or terms, and they all mean roughly the same thing:
While premarital counseling is common for those who aren't Christians, the difference with online Christian premarital counseling is that it's geared specifically toward those who want a faith-based approach. Most/all topics are influenced by the bible and the perspective on marriage is scriptural.
Aside from the fact that one is online and the other is not, the two main differences between online Christian premarital counseling and traditional Christian premarital counseling are typically convenience and format.
Convenience-wise, online Christian premarital counseling is just that: online. You can do it from the comfort of your own home at a time that works for you and your fiancé. You're able to take advantage of curriculum created by anyone in any format you'd like.
This can be especially helpful if you're a long-distance couple or if you have scheduling conflicts that make it difficult to meet with a counselor in person.
Format-wise, online Christian premarital counseling is often more flexible. You're not limited to meeting with a counselor in person for an hour each week. Instead, you can learn about and work through topics at your own pace. There are often video lessons, articles, worksheets, and other resources that you can access on your own time.
As a quick note: we did both traditional and online premarital counseling when we were engaged. There are pros and cons to each and they can go hand-in-hand with one another.
Online also differs from traditional premarital counseling because you typically don't have a mentor couple to walk through the content with you. You're going through the curriculum on your own. In saying that, you can absolutely find a mentor couple if you want/need one! We had a few different couples we met with throughout our engagement who helped guide us and offer their wisdom and insight as we prepared for marriage.
More than other sections in this article, we're going to speak in some generalities here. It's important to remember that every online premarital course or program is going to be different. However, there are a few things you should expect.
You should expect...
The great thing about online Christian premarital counseling typically covers a wide range of topics, such as: communication, conflict resolution, finances, sex, and more. It's a great way for couples to get on the same page about their expectations for marriage before they tie the knot.
Our online premarital course has seven sections:
Let's combine the last two sections and talk about what you can expect from the topics typically covered in online Christian premarital counseling. These are the topics covered in our online premarriage course, but you can expect similar content from other Christian premarital courses or programs.
Here, we cover five major myths about marriage that can often cause unrealistic expectations. This is a "lighter" topic, but an important and helpful one. If you take our course (or even another premarital course with this topic), you can expect to learn the myths, understand why they're not realistic, and get a plan to overcome them.
Creating a Happy & Healthy Marriage
This topic really encapsulates all of the "big" things you want to know before you get married. You'll get the core tenants of what it means to create a healthy and happy marriage... things like: husband/wife roles in marriage, barriers to a healthy marriage, ingredients to a happy marriage, and even love languages. All of which are vitally important to having the marriage you desire.
Families & Foundations
If you want a great relationship with your family and your future in-laws, this is where you can find the steps to make that happen. You can expect to learn how your family influences you in the areas of marital roles, finances, and intimacy; plus how to build a healthy relationship with your in-laws.
We've found this topic really uncovers a lot of helpful conversations. You likely won't realize how much your past and your parents influence your marriage until you talk through this topic.
Communication & Conflict
If you want to learn how to effectively communicate with your spouse and navigate conflict well, this is the section for you! You'll find that a lot of the topics in this section are taught in other marriage courses (including our own), but with a Christian perspective. You can expect to learn about healthy communication habits, unhealthy communication patterns, how to fight, and how to apologize.
Here's a sample module from our course where we teach about how to apologize.
This is our absolute favorite topic for engaged couples. Unmet expectations are the quickest way to frustration in marriage, so getting on the same page in a variety of areas wills serve your marriage well. In our course, this is the shortest module, but we cover how to create realistic and healthy expectations.
Many premarital programs will also include "expectations questions." These are simply dozens (or even hundreds) of questions you can your fiancé can ask each other before marriage. We have a free resource with 50 of these questions you can download now.
Education around finances for engaged couples isn't a particularly flashy topic, but it's incredibly important. Many couples fight about money more than any other topic, so navigating finances is an important step in preparing for marriage. You may expect to learn about the fundamentals of finances, how to create a budget, and how to plan and prioritize your money. Our pre-marriage course also discusses paying off debt before you're married.
Sexual & Spiritual Intimacy
Last (but certainly not least), many Christian premarital courses will discuss sexual and spiritual intimacy. This is a sensitive topic for many couples, and depending on your background, can carry some hurts or baggage. You can expect a Christian premarital program to cover God's design for sex, an overview of intimacy, and how to grow sexual and spiritual intimacy.
How ya doing so far? Ready to keep going? Great!
This really varies! Some couples finish premarital counseling in a few weeks while others take a few months. It really just depends on how much time you want to spend working through the topics.
Our online premarital course has about two total hours of video content. If you wanted it to binge it one evening you could, but it would likely take another 5-6 hours to complete the exercises and work through the workbook.
We often recommend couples cover one major topic (eg, finances) per week, which would mean going through the course over the span of 7-8 weeks. But again, this is completely up to you.
Traditional premarital counseling is typically around this same length with added time of driving to and from wherever you're meeting with your counselor or mentor couple.
If you're considering whether or not online Christian premarital counseling is right for you, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, going through an online premarriage program could be a great fit for you!
Of course, online premarital counseling isn't for everyone. If any of the following are true, you might consider finding a local mentor couple or counselor to walk through marriage preparation with you. Many churches offer traditional premarital counseling which might be a better fit.
Short answer: it depends on what state you live in. About a dozen states offer discounted or expedited marriage licenses when you complete an approved premarital program. Now, keep in mind, the program typically needs to be approved by the state before you can take advantage of these benefits. Be sure to contact your local county clerk to ask if they offer these benefits and what premarital program is approved.
Our online course is approved by the state of Texas' "TwoGether in Texas" program, which means you can get your marriage license for free (~$65) and get your license expedited as well. If you've taken our course (or are interested in the course) and live in the state of Texas, email us at email@example.com for more info and a discount.
Here's which states offer these benefits (source):
Other states don't have any sort of premarital course requirement, but some local officiants will give you a discount on your ceremony fee if you can show completion of a premarital program. If this is something that's important to you, make sure to ask the officiant before you book them.
Some churches also require couples to complete a premarital program before they'll allow them to get married in their church.
Thanks for reading so far! We hope this has been helpful as you discern whether or not an online premarital class is right for you.
Here's what we believe makes a great online premarriage course:
Love Your First Year is an online premarital course designed to help engaged Christian couples prepare for marriage. This premarriage course is completely self-paced, has 27 modules, a 65+ page workbook, and will give you a step-by-step plan to prepare for a marriage you'll love.
When you're ready, click here to learn more about our course.
If you're considering online Christian premarital counseling, we hope this article has provided some helpful information. Going through premarital counseling with your partner is a great way to start your marriage off on the right foot. Cheering you (and your marriage) on!