Fiancee and I have been taking Marriage Prep classes at my church. I was surprised at the reactions I get from people when I tell them. Don't call it pre-marital counseling because people think it means you're having problems.
It's been incredibly amazing actually. We're so glad we joined. It's a large group setting, about 100 couples. On 5 Saturday mornings for 3.5 hours. It's taught by a Ph.D. marriage counselor. It is intended to provide knowledge, skills and tools to effectively deal with the inevitable issues that will come our way. It's taught from a biblical perspective but the leaders really want us to talk about the big topics and things that might not be a problem now but potentially will be down the road. Communication skills, conflict resolution, learning each other's personalities types, budgeting, spirituality of marriage, sexuality and parenting. I can't imagine entering a marriage without this stuff. Just being on the same page is so important.
Today was our last class, and we feel so grateful to have been through these past 5 weeks. We feel that we've grown so much closer and feel so much more equipped to begin to merge our two paths. Even after being together for four year, there's definitely room for improvement and growth! The last part of the class is called the couples checkup, where we each take an inventory survey online separately. Then we discussed the results in class today. Our strengths? Communication, affection and relationship roles. It was so encouraging to see. For other areas (conflict resolution, finances, marriage expectations, etc) where we had some discrepancies it listed out key items to discuss to make sure we can at least get them out in the open to begin discussing them.
I will be highly recommending some kind of preparation to my friends as they start getting engaged. As they told us in class, it's kind of a preventative measure. The $100 fee is a lot cheaper than ignoring the problems now and then having to spend $1000s for marriage counseling later.