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Once you’ve decided to tie the knot, everything can move pretty fast. Couples can encounter major financial burdens, family blending issues, differences in cultural and religious views, and a whole host of other things that might interfere with planning a life together. At that point, it’s incredibly useful to have an unbiased, trained counselor to help you get to the bottom of what’s causing friction so it doesn’t trickle over and impact your future marriage or partnership.
Even if you feel like your relationship is relatively stable, it might be worth seeing a premarital counselor. According to a well-cited study, couples who’d completed some form of premarital counseling had a 30% increased satisfaction in their marriage than couples who don’t. (That’s reason enough right there to set up a meeting or two.)
Premarital counseling can help you learn how to better communicate with your partner so issues that arise between the two of you—like finances or intimacy issues—don’t fester. Nothing good comes from couples going months or even years before talking about these problems—and lots of negative emotions can build up over time. But seeing a counselor before you decide to commit to forever with your partner can help you learn how to have those hard conversations so they don’t erode all the good stuff that’s built into your relationship.
So with that in mind, we reviewed a number of excellent premarital counseling groups out there, and outlined some of the best below.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Talkspace
- Best for Busy Couples: Growing Self
- Best for Conflict Management: Couples Therapy Inc
- Best for Improving Communication: Regain
- Best for LGBTQIA+ Couples: The Queer Couples Center
- Best for Christian Couples: Grace Wellness Center
- Best for Financial Advice: Financial Therapy Association
- Best on a Budget: Our Relationship
Best Overall: Talkspace
- Cost: $260–$400+ per month
- Platforms: Live video, audio, chat, unlimited messaging
Why We Chose It: Talkspace has streamlined online counseling for couples hoping to address any issue disrupting their relationship, including those that arise leading up to the wedding.
- Expert licensed couples therapists on staff
- Unlimited messaging
- Easy sign-up
- No therapist bios access prior to sign-up
- Can only choose therapists from those you match with
Since couples preparing for marriage tend to be busy, online counseling that’s widely accessible makes therapy simpler, which is why Talkspace takes the top spot on this list. The company has been around since 2012. They offer more general therapy too, but it is their designated team of couples and marriage therapists that got our attention for this list. You can sign up for premarital counseling—and if you need it, continue counseling after your wedding too.
To sign up, you start by taking their simple questionnaire. Then, based on your answers, you’ll be matched with a number of therapists options and you and your partner can decide who you want to work with.
Once you begin counseling, you can communicate with your therapist in a number of ways—via video or audio chat, live chat, and text. In terms of cost, Talkspace is about average when compared to similar services.
Best for Busy Couples: Growing Self
- Cost: $65-$160 for program or private premarital counselor; $250 for online course
- Platforms: Zoom and Simple Practice
Why We Chose It: Growing Self offers premarital counseling and couples counseling in-person and online.
- Online and in-person counseling
- Sliding scale of prices available
- Premarital counseling is a specialty
- Insurance not accepted
- In-person only available in Colorado
- No subscription plans
Growing Self aims to make premarital counseling and couples counseling as easy as possible. It offers three different types of premarital counseling options: an in-person class, a guided program, or private counseling. While the class is only available at a few locations in Colorado, the last two can be done virtually from anywhere.
If you opt to do the program, you take a comprehensive assessment of your relationship to help pinpoint areas you and your partner need to work on. Once completed, you meet with your counselor to decide on a treatment game plan. This usually consists of a few sessions where you learn strategies to be better partners.
If you opt for private counseling, you’ll have more of an in-depth, prolonged counseling experience. However, you still have scheduling flexibility, and the ability to choose a counselor who fits your budget. Growing Self also provides a free consultation, so you can get a clear idea of what you’re signing up for before you agree to move forward. Finally, Growing Self also offers couples counseling as an option too, so you can continue your therapy once you’re married.
Best for Conflict Management: Couples Therapy Inc
- Cost: $159 to $250 per couples counseling session; $119 to $199 for couples coaching; $714-$1500 for a 5-6-hour assessment; $2,500 to $5,000+ per weekend intensive retreat
- Platforms: Live video
Why We Chose It: Couples Therapy Inc has intensive therapy retreat options available across the country to tackle issues efficiently.
- Intensive program
- Online therapy, private in-person and virtual retreats offered
- Clear, expert focus on relationships
- Retreats are expensive
- No subscription plans
- All sessions must be in-person or via live video chat
If you’ve been with your partner for quite some time before deciding to legally unify, you might have some deep-seated issues that need ironing out. However, since you’re also potentially planning a wedding, you may not have the time to dedicate to several weekly sessions. That’s when an intensive couples counseling retreat like what Couples Therapy Inc offers might be your best option.
They also offer an intensive counseling option specifically for those who are on the road to getting married. The program begins with a 5- to 6-hour assessment, which involves filling out comprehensive questionnaires, two joint online sessions, and two online sessions that you complete without your partner. All of this can be completed over three weeks. The sessions are designed to zero in on a few areas that are most concerning you before marriage.
It may sound like a lot, but in the end, your therapist will have a good idea of the issues that need addressing and can offer a clear treatment plan involving actions you can take to improve your relationship. This targeted approach is apparently why the service has been so successful for many couples. The cost of this particular program varies depending on the level of expertise of your counselor, and the rate is hourly-based.
For those who can’t commit to an intensive program like this, Couples Therapy can break up sessions to accommodate your schedule. Or, if you’d prefer to do more traditional therapy sessions, that’s an option as well. If you’re not sure what will work best, they have a quiz on their website that will outline each program and guide you to what will work best for you and your partner.
Therapy is run by counselors with over 20 years of training in science-backed relationship therapy, and you can review their bios ahead of time before moving forward with one. All sessions, even the intensive weekend, can be completed online, so your location won’t prevent you from accessing the program unless you prefer to do it in person. Before getting started, your chosen therapist will have you fill out an assessment about your relationship, and what you’re hoping to address.
It should be noted that the intensive counseling weekend is pricey, starting at $500.
Best for Improving Communication: Regain
- Cost: $240 to $320+ per month
- Platforms: Messaging, phone, video
Why We Chose It: Regain has an easy-to-use platform where you can message your therapist whenever you want and see them weekly for live video sessions.
- Expert staff of licensed couples therapists
- Convenient monthly subscription
- Unlimited messaging
- No therapist bios on website
- No free trial
- You can’t pick your therapist
ReGain is a BetterHelp-owned company that is devoted entirely to helping couples navigate relationship issues as they arise, whether that’s before or after marriage. You can sign up for premarital counseling, couples counseling, or as an individual if your partner doesn’t want to join.
The company only offers one monthly subscription plan and the price varies depending on what therapist you’re matched with and where you live, but it includes one weekly live video session and the option to message your therapist through the app whenever you want. All therapists are licensed and have experience working as couples counselors.
You cannot pick your therapist yourself—you’ll get matched with one based on your intake questionnaire answers—but if you don’t like who you’re matched with, you can easily switch whenever you want with the push of a button.
Best for LGBTQ+ Couples: The Queer Couples Center
- Cost: Varies, depending on the therapist
- Platforms: Video and phone sessions
Why We Chose It: It's one of the few online counseling companies that's geared toward LGBTQIA+ couples looking to get married.
- Has a video blog run therapists
- Geared toward all types of LGBTQIA+ couples
- Course be completed in 90 days
- Small number of therapists available
- No pricing listed on the website
- Not covered by insurance
LGBTQIA+ couples may experience pre-marital stress and anxiety just like any other couple, but they might also have to deal with issues heterosexual couples don’t as much. For example, as you work toward blending your families, you could be faced with family members who aren’t as accepting of your union, or vendors who have oddly discriminative policies. For things like that and more, it’s helpful to have a therapist to turn to who gets it, and who can help you tackle anything that arises and tests your relationship.
The Queer Couples Center is a San Francisco-based organization run by a gay couple who also happen to be qualified, accredited therapists. They’re both certified in the Gottman Method Couples Therapy method, and worked with them on a peer-reviewed study on the effectiveness of the method on same-sex couples. All the therapists at Queer couples are LGBTQIA+ and trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy—which is often cited as one of the most effective ways of addressing relationship issues.
Their services include couples counseling and relationship coaching (which can be done individually, with your partner or in a group therapy session). And they offer a premarital counseling program specifically designed to help couples “develop a plan to keep your relationship committed long term.” They also offer something called the Gay Relationship Revolution Program, which is a three-phase counseling program designed to help same-sex couples improve their relationship in just 90 days.
In order to get started, you need to take a brief questionnaire on their website followed by a free assessment call with one of the therapists. After that, you’ll be matched with a therapist who best fits your needs, and can schedule video or phone sessions with them that fit your schedule.
In the meantime, you can get a sense of how they work by watching their video blogs where they discuss common relationship issues and ways to address them. They also provide an extensive list of mental health resources, including crisis centers, meditation and yoga groups, and helpful books. The main downside of the service is that it’s based on the West Coast, so scheduling sessions could be challenging for people who live far from there. In addition, the service has a relatively small pool of therapists and there’s no mention of cost-per-session ranges on their website.
Best for Christian Couples: Grace Wellness Center
- Cost: $55 to $150 per session
- Platforms: Video, phone, and in-person
Why We Chose It: Grace Wellness is geared toward helping Christian couples navigate all stages of their relationship, and one of their specialties is premarital counseling.
- In-person and online counseling available
- You can choose your own therapist
- Premarital counseling is a specialty
- Discounted and sliding scale rates available
- May not be suited for non-Christians
- In-person sessions only available in Pennsylvania
- Vague statement of faith
Whether beliefs and traditions are causing friction or if you’re looking for a more faith-based approach to counseling, Grace Wellness Center might be able to help. All of their providers have a deep understanding of Christianity and several of them specialize in helping Christian couples work through any concerns they may have on their journey to the altar and beyond, including conflict resolution, and issues around intimacy and communication.
You can choose your own counselor at Grace Wellness Center, which is different than many of the other companies we reviewed, and you can meet with them in person, on the phone, or via live video chat. The counselors will also likely share workbooks and educational resources with you too to parse through in your own time.
It should be noted, however, that some of the counselors are not licensed therapists, but rather guides or pastors.
Best for Financial Advice: Financial Therapy Association
- Cost: Depends on the therapist
- Platforms: Depends on the therapist
Why We Chose It: Financial Therapy Association is a network of therapists who are experts at helping individuals and couples navigate the intersection of financial and emotional issues.
- Large network of qualified therapists
- Bios available online
- You can choose who you want to work with
- No information about cost on the website
No matter how stable your relationship may seem, when you’re preparing for marriage, financial issues are bound to surface. Whether issues stem from exorbitant wedding costs, earning inequality, spending disagreements, or combining assets, money can be a stress point both before marriage—and after. Several analyses have found that finances are the most common cause of conflict between couples at any stage. Another study found that when finances are the biggest source of contention in a marriage, it’s more likely to end in divorce. The reason why seems to be that finances and emotions are more closely linked than people think.
Financial therapy is a newer form of therapy, but a sizable group of experts in the field have amassed under the organization Financial Therapy Association. All the therapists are vetted, and you can search for one who fits your needs under “find a therapist” on their website. There, you will find a lengthy bio on each therapist’s specialties, where they’re located, if you can meet with them virtually or in-person, and their payment structure. Most of them appear to work on a pay-per-session model—and insurance doesn’t generally cover this type of therapy. However, if you’re hoping to get to the bottom of the financial issues in your relationship before saying “I do,” this is where you’ll find therapists at the forefront of the burgeoning field.
Best on a Budget: Our Relationship
- Cost: a $150 one-time fee
- Platforms: Online course and video
Why We Chose It: The self-driven programs and live counseling Our Relationship offers get right to the issues for a one-time fee.
- One-time fee
- You can pick your coach
- Bios of coaches available online
- Not for couples needing long-term help
- Not specifically focused on premarital counseling
- Less therapy, more self-help
Our Relationship offers self-driven programs aimed at helping couples learn to communicate better and get back on track—and these programs could be a good substitute for premarital counseling if you can’t afford weekly sessions. The programs were developed by relationship experts who know how to get to the bottom of common issues couples face. The programs are also guided by qualified therapists with ample experience in relationship therapy, so you’ll have someone you can shoot questions to along the way.
All of the services are online, so it’s a great option for premarital couples who are extra busy. However the programs aren’t designed to be intensive therapy sessions, so if you feel you need personalized attention like that, you may want to look elsewhere.
Talkspace is our pick for the best overall premarital counseling company because of its convenience, accessibility, and track record of success. It offers a super user-friendly experience and its staff includes licensed therapists trained in couples counseling. However, if you’re looking for an online therapy company with a therapist that specializes in premarital counseling specifically, Growing Self or Grace Wellness Center (if you’re a Christian) might be better options.
What is Premarital Counseling?
Premarital counseling is a type of therapy specifically designed to help couples prepare for marriage. Sessions are typically led by a designated family or relationship therapist, though some are led by counselors, coaches, or pastors with specialized training. These counseling sessions can come in many forms—virtual, in person, via a self-guided program or intensive weekend.
The goal of premarital counseling is to help couples cope with any relationship issues that they might have and strengthen their partnership before they tie the knot. In essence, it’s couples counseling before you get married with the aim to help you have a more successful and understanding marriage.
Is Premarital Counseling Effective?
If you address any concerns or problems you have in your relationship before you get married, it’s more likely you’ll be better equipped to handle them should that arise again down the road. Learning to work through problems, no matter how difficult, is the best way to keep them from becoming deep-rooted. Even if your relationship is relatively stable, premarital counseling can help you be more supportive partners and better communicators.
Misconceptions that going to couples therapy means your marriage is in trouble remain today, even though you don't need to see a therapist with your partner just when your relationship is in trouble. Couples counseling can help you build a stronger, happier, and longer-lasting marriage—especially if you go before deep-seated resentments build up.
The average married couple has about a 50% chance of getting divorced in the United States. But a study by the American Psychological Association found that those who underwent Emotional Focused Therapy (EFT) had closer to a 75% chance of staying married. So while it might seem like going to counseling means your relationship is in trouble, making the choice to seek counseling more often than not results in couples being happier and staying together.
Is Premarital Counseling Right for You and Your Partner?
When considering whether or not premarital counseling is right for you and your partner, you might want to consider the following:
- How pressing is the relationship issue (or issues) that need addressing?
- Do you both have enough availability to make regular sessions work, or would it be better to do a self-guided program or a weekend intensive?
- Are you concerned about the future of your relationship if you don’t address these issues now?
It’s important to discuss any and all questions and concerns you may have about premarital counseling with your partner before moving forward so that you’re both on the same page about it.
How Much Does Premarital Counseling Cost?
The cost of premarital counseling varies based on the service provider. Of the companies we reviewed, prices ranged from $55-$150 a session or $240-$400+ a month. Intensive weekends ran higher. A subscription counseling service, like Talkspace, or a one-time fee program, like Our Relationship, tend to be less expensive than pay-per-session counseling.
Premarital counseling is not typically covered by insurance because most insurance providers usually only cover what is deemed “medically necessary” and the health of a relationship is not generally covered under this definition (even though individual mental health is).
How Is Premarital Counseling Different From Couples Counseling?
Premarital counseling typically addresses issues that are arising because of an impending marriage, or it focuses on preparing you for marriages by helping you build better communication and intimacy skills. This type of counseling will typically explore family triggers, financial or religious concerns, finances, differences in upbring, whether you plan on having kids (and how you’ll raise them), and other issues that might come up in a marriage.
In order to determine the best premarital counseling services, we reviewed 33 different online therapy companies and collected data on four additional online companies specializing in counseling. Then, we evaluated each company on its counseling services dedicated to couples, price, easy of use, and counselor or therapist qualifications.
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NIH, Results of Gottman Method Couples Therapy with Gay and Lesbian Couples, Dec 13th, 2021.
National Library of Medicine. "Communication, conflict, and commitment: insights on the foundations of relationship success from a national survey."
Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Science. "Examining the Relationship Between Financial Issues and Divorce."
Williamson HC, Karney BR, Bradbury TN. Barriers and facilitators of relationship help-seeking among low-income couples. J Fam Psychol. 2019;33(2):234-239.
Clinical Psychology Science and Practice. "Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy: Status and Challenges."