Marriage is a lifelong commitment to another person. It is often defined as both a physical and spiritual union of two people. You’re going into it with the purpose of growing with that person, settling down and possibly raising children with them and spending the bulk of your remaining years with that person. It’s definitely not something to be taken lightly.

Some couples decide to get married because they believe in love in first sight. Others may feel the need to get married because they have a child on the way. Sometimes couples choose to get married after living with each other for years. Marriage is defined in the Bible as a union between a man and a woman. However, more and more gay, lesbian and transgender couples are getting married every day.

Many experts recommend a pre-marriage course for most couples. There are Catholic marriage preparation classes and pre-marriage courses for other religions as well. Each course may vary in duration depending on the institution and topics covered.

Here are some of the many benefits of marriage preparation classes:

1. They help establish realistic timelines.
One of the main advantages of taking a Catholic pre-marriage course or other similar pre-marriage classes is that they can help couples establish realistic timelines and goals for their life. It forces them to take a look at what they want to accomplish and how much time they should expect to allow for each goal to happen. Some couples want to have children right away but may not factor in their budget, which is especially important when they have wedding expenses and if they are buying a home or moving to a new area.

2. They help to identify and build conflict resolution skills.
Most couples will get into arguments at one time or another. They can be about little things or big things. Sometimes people take disagreements personally and lash out at their partner. This can cause serious rifts in a relationship. Avalon marriage courses and other pre-marriage sessions can help couples to identify potential problem areas. Counselors typically work through practice situations to assess each person’s reaction. They are trained to give advice for solving problems and handling objections. These tools can help couples to quickly defuse problems and come up with mutually beneficial solutions.

3. It helps to address any fears before entering the marriage.
People who have been divorced or come from a dysfunctional family background may have some serious fears or concerns about getting married. They don’t want to repeat their past failures or disappointments. Attending pre-marriage counseling classes can help couples express those concerns. It can also help people to leave their past in the past and take proactive steps to strengthen their relationship every day.

4. Marriage counseling helps couples learn how to communicate more effectively with each other.
Communication is a critical part of any union. Many couples break up or wind up divorcing because of communication breakdowns. Pre-marriage counseling classes can give couples the tools they need to become better listeners and better communicators. They learn how to give the other person time to say what’s on their mind and how to empathize. They are taught to avoid using defensive behavior or gestures that can signal negativity or a lack of interest. These skills can help defuse arguments and help couples find plausible solutions to common problems.

5. You learn how to live with each other’s quirks.
Learning to live together is a challenge for most couples. Different religions have different views on whether or not unmarried couples should live together. For some, it’s a necessity due to financial reasons, family or other obligations. It can be an especially rough adjustment for those who have never lived with someone else besides their immediate family. Getting accustomed to each other’s routines and quirks can take a while, and some habits can get on the other person’s nerves quickly. Counselors who host pre-marriage classes understand because they’ve seen and heard about all different types of behavior. They do their best to reassure couples that such differences are okay, and help them learn to accept each other’s schedules and habits.

6. It provides an outside opinion.
Another important benefit of pre-marriage counseling is that you’re receiving advice from an outside source. The counselor usually isn’t someone who knows you intimately. They are an outsider looking in as you share your feelings and experiences with them. They can help you think of new ways to adjust to each other and help strengthen your relationship with your partner. They will usually tell you what they think you’re doing right and what’s going wrong. Counselors are there to listen and give advice, no matter if it’s adhered to or not. They want to help couples succeed in getting to know one another before they get married.

7. They can help you focus on what matters.
Pre-marriage counseling services work wonders for many couples every day. One of the most important services they provide is focus. A good counselor will listen to all input, observe verbal and non-verbal cues and report on what they’ve observed. They will usually ask several probing questions in order to get to the heart of what’s important. They can help you set the tone for your relationship. Many counselors will ask couples where they see themselves in five or ten years or even longer. This gets them thinking long-term about their relationship and what they want to achieve. For many couples, they may have aspirations of owning their own business, buying a new house, having children or taking care of their parents after they’ve retired. Such sessions can help them start to think about what they want to do in their relationship and how they can start working towards making their dreams come true.

8. It helps couples find their similarities and their differences.
Many couples fall in love because they see something in their partner that they admire. They often find out that they have several things in common. They also eventually learn more about their differences. Some couples rush into marriage without really knowing much about their partner. That’s why pre-marital classes are so important. Each session gives couples time to find out more about each other. They get to share experiences and things that make them happy. The happier the couple is, the more they’ve usually found out that they have in common. It’s also important to learn about each other’s differences. Some differences can be stumbling blocks in a relationship. By learning about the things you like and don’t like about your partner before marriage, you can learn to cope with them and work on solutions to potential problems in advance.

9. Couples can discuss expectations.
Besides discussing hopes, goals and dreams, pre-marriage counseling sessions allow couples to discuss their expectations. These expectations can include things like household chores, plans for the future, finances, and family obligations. Getting these issues out in the open can help partners to better understand what they each think the other should do. It also gives them time to raise questions or concerns or propose ways to work together to achieve goals such as having children or buying their dream home. Talking things out helps couples to achieve their goals together and have realistic expectations for one another.

10. Sessions can help couples discuss their finances in a safe setting.
Finances are a major reason for strife in many relationships. Some couples expect their spouse to be the primary breadwinner, while others plan on sharing the financial burden evenly. Pre-marital counseling sessions can help couples have a reasonable discussion about their finances. They can talk about where they are now and where they’d like to be in the future. It can help them to start setting goals for saving towards buying a new home, boat, vacation cabin in the woods or setting aside money for their future childrens’ college education. These classes can help couples realize what current financial obligations they have, how to reduce or eliminate any unnecessary or frivolous expenses and to start setting a budget that will help them achieve their long-term financial goals.

These are just some of the many benefits that couples have experienced by attending pre-marriage counseling sessions. Such classes have been known to help save relationships in many instances. They give partners a realistic and optimistic view of their future. Couples learn to better understand and appreciate one another in a confidential setting.

No relationship is ever going to be perfect. There will be good days, there will be great days, and there will be bad days. There are going to be days where you’re going to feel like throwing in the towel. There will be other days where you wonder why you even got married.

Healthy relationships endure all that life throws at them. They are in it for the long haul. Taking pre-marital counseling sessions can help couples weather the inevitable storms and learn ways to strengthen their relationship over time. It can make a good relationship even better long before you say “I do.”