The union of two people, two independent individuals with their own set of values, morals, and ideas about finances, marriage, and children, can lead to an extremely successful union or one that is destined to fail — sometimes very early on. Understanding that a marriage continues beyond the wedding day, we knew early on that we would seek premarital counseling.

By the time we will be married, we will have lived in the same house for 23 months. However, the first year of our relationship was long-distance. You know the saying, “you don’t know someone until you live with them”…yeah, that is real talk! Having the opportunity to live with each other during our engagement allowed us to really get to know each other beyond those biweekly weekend “fairytale” visits where just as you are getting on each other’s last nerve, the weekend is over and it’s back to your respective households.

After our honeymoon period was over, we knew that before we took our relationship to the next step, we wanted to seek counsel. Since we both had sought individual counseling, the idea of premarital counseling was far from taboo. We knew that we would be engaged, so we decided to begin our premarital counseling before our engagement. We found a couples counselor to meet with on a monthly basis. Our sessions were great. Even after living together for a few months, and being in a relationship for over a year, we realized we still had a lot of work to do as a couple. Our individual baggage from past relationships and experiences needed to be addressed and put to bed to ensure that our path as a couple was clear from these roadblocks. The counselor assigned homework for us to compete together to help us navigate through existing and potential issues.

After our engagement, we sought counsel from our church. Fortunately, our church has an extensive marriage and family ministry. We participated in weekly sessions with other engaged couples that strengthened our bond in Christ. These sessions were extremely helpful The tools we received through these sessions were invaluable. Our goal is to have a marriage that is spiritually sound. These sessions were imperative in helping us to understand how to reach that goal.

From both our spiritually-based and secular counseling sessions, we learned that a healthy marriage is a marriage in which both parties are committed to putting in the work to stay married. Marriage is definitely a choice, but we have decided to choose each other during all times — the good, the bad and the ugly.

What are your thoughts on premarital counseling? Do you think it is necessary? Does it matter whether your counseling is given by your minister? Secular counselor? Both?

Check out last week’s Road to Mrs. post here.