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Once you’ve decided to tie the knot, everything can move pretty fast. And with the good stuff can come not-so-great stuff. Couples can encounter major financial burdens, family blending issues, differences in cultural and religious views, and a host of other things that might interfere with planning a bliss-filled life together. This is the point when it’s beneficial to have an unbiased, trained counselor to help you get to the bottom of what’s causing the friction so it doesn’t trickle over and impact your future marriage or partnership.
Premarital counseling can help you learn how to better communicate with your partner so conflicts that arise between the two of you—like finances or intimacy issues—don’t fester. According to a well-cited study, couples who completed some form of premarital counseling reported 30% greater satisfaction in their marriage than couples who didn’t. (That’s reason enough to set up a meeting or two.) 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. By seeing a counselor before you decide to commit to forever with your partner, you'll learn how to have those hard conversations so they don’t erode all the good stuff you've built in your relationship. With that in mind, we reviewed a number of excellent premarital counseling options and outlined the best covering a wide range of needs below.
Best Premarital Counseling of 2023
- Best Overall: Ours
- Best for Busy Couples: Talkspace
- Best for Improving Communication: Couples Therapy Inc.
- Best for LGBTQ+ 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 for Variety of Plans: Growing Self
Best Overall : Ours
- Cost: $500 for the program, including talk therapy and online lesson modules; $400 if paid upfront
- Platforms: Live video and online, self-guided lessons
- Accepts Insurance?: No
Ours' hybrid therapy model allows couples to address issues efficiently before marriage via live online therapy and self-guided online modules, making it one of the most well-rounded approaches to couples therapy.
Hybrid-style therapy sessions
$50 trial option
Can be gifted to someone else
Can't choose therapist
Insurance not accepted
Only two live sessions
Three of the biggest obstacles people (including couples) encounter when seeking therapy are lack of access, affordability, and flexible scheduling. These factors can become especially limiting when you're planning a wedding. Ours overcomes these limitations through its hybrid therapy model—live online talk therapy alongside self-guided lessons. It's not a typical couples therapy experience, but for engaged couples who want efficient therapy at a reasonable price, it can't be beaten.
Being engaged isn't a prerequisite for Ours' couples counseling program—the company says it welcomes “relationships of all kinds—new connections, serious relationships, recently engaged, the married crowd, and everything in between.”
After you complete a brief questionnaire, you and your partner are matched to your therapist, or "guide" as Ours calls them. Then, together you work through self-guided lessons or modules and take part in two therapy sessions with a licensed therapist: One when you begin the process, and the second after completing the modules.
While not as talk therapy-heavy as other online therapy platforms, Ours' self-guided program is designed to help couples get to the bottom of their issues on their own schedule. This helps the program remain budget- and busy-schedule-friendly. If you feel like you and your partner need more than that to address your concerns, though, you might want to seek out a service more focused on talk therapy.
- You can access Ours' entire couples therapy program for a one-time fee of $500. This includes two live therapy sessions via video chat and a series of self-guided online lessons. If you pay upfront, you save $100.
- You can try the service for $50, and pay the remaining $450 if you decide to continue. Note that this fee will automatically be charged one week after your first live session if you don't cancel.
Eighty-four percent of users surveyed said the therapists at Ours were well qualified, and 86% said the service was better than others they'd used. Seventy-eight percent said most or all of their needs were met by their therapist.
Best for Busy Couples : Talkspace
- Cost: $69-$109/week
- Platforms: Live video, audio, chat, unlimited messaging
- Accepts insurance?: Yes
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
No access to therapist bios before sign-up
Can only choose therapists from those you match with
Since couples preparing for marriage tend to be busy, Talkspace is helping to make couples counseling therapy simpler and more accessible. The company has been around since 2012. While it offers more general therapy, too, its designated team of couples and marriage therapists 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 a simple questionnaire. Then, based on your answers, you’ll be matched with a number of therapists 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's prices are about average when compared to similar services we've reviewed. It also accepts most major insurance plans, which can greatly offset the cost.
Talkspace has three therapy plans:
- Messaging Therapy: Includes unlimited messaging with guaranteed daily therapist responses five days a week and starts at $69/week
- Live Therapy: Includes four live therapy sessions a month via live chat, phone, or video call and starts at $99/week
- Live + Messaging Therapy: Includes both messaging and four live sessions and starts at $109/week
Ninety percent of surveyed users rated Talkspace good to excellent overall, while 82% said they would recommend the service to a friend or someone like them. Ninety-two percent said the therapist's qualifications were good to excellent.
Best for Improving Communication : Couples Therapy Inc.
- Cost: $159 to $250 per couples counseling session; $119 to $199 for couples coaching sessions; $714-$1,500 for a 5- to 6-hour assessment; $2,500 to $5,000+ per weekend intensive retreat
- Platforms: Live video, in-person
- Accepts Insurance?: No
Couples Therapy Inc. has intensive therapy retreat options available across the country to tackle issues like communication effectively and efficiently.
Choose your therapist
Online therapy and private in-person or virtual retreats offered
Clear, expert focus on relationships
No payment plans or financial aid
Retreats are expensive
No subscription plans
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 the ones offered by Couples Therapy Inc, might be your best option.
It has an intensive counseling option specifically for those who are on the road to getting married. The program begins with a five- to six-hour assessment, which involves filling out comprehensive questionnaires, two joint online sessions, and two individual online sessions. All of this can be completed over three weeks. The sessions are designed to zero in on a few areas that most concern 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.
For those who can’t commit to an intensive program like this, Couples Therapy Inc. 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, there is a quiz on the website that outlines each program to guide you to what will work best for you and your partner.
Counselors have 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.
- The per-session rate for couples counseling is anywhere from $159 to $250; $119 to $199 for couples coaching.
- Weekend intensive retreats start at $2,500.
Ninety percent of Couples Therapy Inc.'s users said their therapist’s qualifications were good to excellent, and another 90% said the same about the service overall. Eighty-seven percent said it was better than similar services they'd used in the past.
Best for LGBTQ+ Couples : The Queer Couples Center
- Cost: Varies, depending on the therapist
- Platforms: Video and phone
- Accepts Insurance?: No
Queer Couples Counseling is one of the few online counseling companies that's geared toward engaged LGBTQIA+ couples.
Has a video blog run by therapists
Geared toward all types of LGBTQIA+ couples
Course can 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. 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 with discriminatory policies. For topics like that and more, it’s helpful to have a therapist who gets it, and can help you tackle anything that arises to test 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, and worked with the organization on a peer-reviewed study concerning the effectiveness of the Gottman 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.
Services include couples and individual counseling, as well as relationship coaching, which can be done individually, with your partner, or in a group therapy session.
In order to get started, you complete a brief online questionnaire 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 that fit your schedule.
In the meantime, you can get a sense of how the service works by watching videos or reading blog posts that discuss common relationship issues and ways to address them. The Center also provides an extensive list of mental health resources, including crisis centers, meditation and yoga groups, events lists, and helpful books. The main downside is that it’s based on the West Coast, so scheduling sessions could be challenging for people who live in a distant time zones. In addition, the service has a relatively small pool of therapists and there’s no mention of cost-per-session fees on the website.
Cost varies depending on the therapist you're matched with.
Eighty-nine percent of users surveyed said that most or all of their needs were met by the Center's therapists. While 79% said the therapist's qualifications were generally good, just 71% said they'd recommend the service to a friend or someone like them.
Best for Christian Couples : Grace Wellness Center
- Cost: $55 to $150 per session
- Platforms: Video, phone, in person
- Accepts Insurance?: No
Grace Wellness is geared toward helping Christian couples navigate all stages of their relationship, and one of its 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 suitable for non-Christians
In-person sessions only available in Pennsylvania
Vague statement of faith
Whether beliefs and traditions are causing friction in your relationship, or you’re looking for a more faith-based approach to counseling, Grace Wellness Center may be able to help. All of its 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 from 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 to do with your partner on your own time.
It should be noted, however, that some of the counselors are not licensed therapists, but rather guides or pastors.
Therapy is pay-per-session, and ranges in cost from $55 to $150 per session. There are three tiers you can choose from:
- Tier 1: Work with a counselor in training guided by a licensed professional; $55/session
- Tier 2: Work with a counselor, pastor, or coach with a master's degree; $125/session
- Tier 3: Work with a counselor with 10 years of experience or more; $150/session
Grace Wellness was not featured in our user survey this year.
Best for Financial Advice : Financial Therapy Association
- Cost: Depends on the therapist
- Platforms: Depends on the therapist
- Accepts Insurance?: Depends on the therapist
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 your therapist
No cost information on website
No matter how stable your relationship seems, when you’re preparing for marriage, financial issues are bound to surface. Whether these 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 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 joined the Financial Therapy Association. All the therapists in its directory are vetted, and you can search for one who fits your needs under “find a therapist” on its website. From 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.
Pricing is pay-per-session and depends on the therapist.
Eighty-one percent of users surveyed said the site was easy or very easy to navigate, and 98% of users said they found a therapist who met some or all of their needs. Eighty-one percent said they were still using their therapist from the directory at the time they completed the survey.
Best on a Budget : Our Relationship
- Cost: $199 one-time fee
- Platforms: Online course and video
- Accepts Insurance?: No
The self-driven programs and live coaching Our Relationship offers get right to the issues for a one-time fee.
You pick your coach
Coach bios 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. They are 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 engaged 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.
To access the self-guided program, you pay a one-time fee of $199.
Our Relationship was not featured in our user survey this year.
Best for Variety of Plans : Growing Self
- Cost: $65-$160 for a private session with a premarital counselor; $295 for online course
- Platforms: Video
- Accepts Insurance?: No
With a variety of therapy types and sliding scale payments, Growing Self aims to make premarital and couples counseling as easy as possible.
Online and in-person counseling
Sliding scale fees
Premarital counseling is a specialty
Insurance not accepted
In-person only available in Colorado
No subscription plans
Growing Self 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 options can be accessed virtually from anywhere.
If you opt to try 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.
With the private counseling option, 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. It also offers couples counseling as an option. too, so you can continue your therapy once you’re married.
Price is per session and depends on the qualifications of your therapist:
- Newly hired licensed therapists charge $105 per session with a sliding scale down to $65 per session.
- Master's level therapists cost $115 per session with a sliding scale down to $75 per session.
- More experienced therapists' rates begin at $135 per session and can go down to $95 on a sliding scale.
- Doctoral level therapists are $160 per session.
Sixty-eight percent of users said their therapist met all or most of their needs, and 89% rated their therapist’s qualifications as good to excellent. And, 90% percent rated the site overall as good to excellent.
Ours premarital therapy wins best overall because of its affordability, accessibility, and flexible, self-guided hybrid program. 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 a better option.
Guide to Choosing the Best Online Premarital Counseling
What Is Online 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 they 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 marriage.
Is Online Premarital Counseling Right for You and Your Partner?
When deciding 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.
Compare Online Premarital Counseling
Here are several factors you might want to consider when narrowing down your options for online premarital counseling.
- Price: Online therapy programs for premarital counseling can range in price considerably. Some programs, like Couples Therapy Inc., for example, have the option of regular talk therapy or a weekend intensive, which, while pricey up front, may ultimately end up being less expensive than regular therapy sessions over time.
- Availability: Does the service allow you to complete therapy entirely online, or is there an in-person component? If there is, is that available in your state or would you need to travel to get to it? A fully online program, especially one that lets you complete some of it on your own (via self-guided lessons), may be more suited to a couple in the midst of the chaos of wedding planning.
- Platforms: Is the service only available via a website, or can you access features on an app? If there is an app, is it available via iOS and Android? Platform availability may ultimately decide whether or not you can successfully complete a premarital counseling program.
- Types of therapy/counseling: Premarital counseling programs are available in a variety of therapy modalities including talk therapy (solo and with your partner), self-guided online lessons, weekend intensives, or some combination of all of the above. Consider which modalities you think might best suit you and your partner and make sure the service you're interested in offers them before signing up.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 they 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 only when your relationship is in trouble. Premarital 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 one study 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.
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 to $150 a session or $240 $400+ per month. Intensive weekends ran higher. A subscription counseling service, like Talkspace, or a one-time fee program, like Our Relationship, tends to be less expensive than pay-per-session counseling.
Is Premarital Counseling Covered By Insurance?
It depends on the service, but we've found that many companies that specialize in premarital counseling offer special programs that aren't covered by insurance. 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).
That said, if you're looking for more long-term online couples counseling, Talkspace does take insurance, and may be able to accommodate you, especially if you also commit to individual therapy as well.
How Is Premarital Counseling Different From Couples Counseling?
Premarital counseling typically addresses issues that are arising because of an impending marriage, or focuses on preparing you for marriage by helping you build better communication and intimacy skills. This type of counseling often explores family triggers, financial or religious concerns, differences in upbringing, whether you plan on having kids (and how you’ll raise them), and other issues that might come up in a marriage.
Couples counseling may touch upon a lot of the same issues addressed in premarital counseling, but your therapist may look to address ongoing issues more slowly, such as helping you find ways to communicate better with your partner over time and address new issues in your relationship as they arise rather than prepare you for ones you may encounter down the road.
We sent questionnaires to 55 companies and surveyed 105 current users of each platform. We also reviewed 25 different online therapist directories by surveying 180 users of the service, interviewed therapists listed on the directory, and reached out to each company to answer questionnaires. We also looked at some additional premarital counseling-focused companies as well. This gave us a wealth of qualitative and quantitative data about the user experience at each company.
Each company was evaluated based on the sign-up process, therapist qualifications, user experience, variety of couples therapy offered, session length, subscription options, average cost, value for money spent, and the average percent of users willing to recommend the company to a friend.
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