Should You Attend a Marriage Preparation Course?

So do you or do you not do anything about a marriage preparation program?

For those who are married according to a religious rite, the religion usually requires couples to attend some sort of marriage preparation program. These courses focus on the practicalities of entering into a marriage as well as teaching the couple about the faith and doctrinal aspects of marriage.

But if you are not having a formal religious ceremony, what options are open to you and should you consider a marriage preparation program of some kind?

Many couples choose not to participate in a marriage preparation program. Often it is because the couple have lived together for some time before the wedding and they believe they have worked through most of the issues that could arise. This may well be true. Certainly marriage these days is a far cry from some decades back where couples remained strictly separated until their wedding day. Under those circumstances it was vital that some advice be given to prepare them for the implications of living together.

Nevertheless, no matter how well a couple knows each other or how long they have been together, it is useful for a couple approaching marriage to give some time to how they intend to shape their relationship and how they plan to ensure the marriage is a life giving, happy success.

Success in marriage is not automatic, it does require some work. The fact that there are “refresher” courses available for couples who have been married for some time indicates that even for experienced couples there is still room for improvement and space to reflect on the relationship and its growth.

Because a successful marriage requires work, it does need to be taken seriously and some time must be set aside for focused conversations about the couple’s strengths and weaknesses, expectations, commitment and so on.

Marriage, even for couples who know each other well, is a major change in life status. Change has been recognized as an important event in life to the extent that organizations undergoing change often engage change management specialists to help them through the process. In the same way, when you are undergoing a life change, such as making the commitment of marriage, it is useful to consult a “change management expert” to take you through a process of preparation for marriage.

If you are unable to attend a program with a counselor or would prefer not to discuss your relationship with someone else, the very least a couple should do is read a book or take one of the online preparation courses available. By doing that you will commit yourself to having constructive conversations with each other as you prepare for your marriage.

Often amongst the busy schedule of getting ready for the wedding, getting ready for the marriage is overlooked. But taking time to discuss your relationship and how you intend making your marriage a success is some of the best work you can do and the work you will most appreciate years after the wedding celebrations are over.
Jonathan Payne is a marriage officer based in Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

In addition to conducting weddings he also provides support, ideas and advice to couples preparing for marriage through his website:

Download your free copy of “The Book of Marriage Vows” at

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