How well do you and your future spouse really know each other?
So you've decided the marriage license at a discounted rate is a bargain, and the six required hours of counseling are no big deal because you can pretend to listen to anyone for an hour. It should be a breeze since you both agree you already know all there is to know about each other. Right?
At this point, little do you know that you will need to order a quadruple California King-sized bed to hold all of those who will be with you in your marriage bed. We start with (theoretically) safe topics like, "Have either of you ever been in counseling before. If so, what that experience was like?" and "What outcomes would you like to have by the end of our sixth session?" You would then have the opportunity to ask any questions about the counselor or the counseling process.
Leaving the safety zone, we move into the exploratory stage. "How long have you known each other? How did you meet? How long have you been together as a couple? How long have you been living together? Have either of you been married before? (If yes,) What worked well for you in the marriage? How often did you have disagreements? What level of hostility did you reach? What made you decide to leave the marriage? What issues are still in your bag that remain unresolved?" Some couples are reluctant to even look in the direction of the stashed baggage, while others may rush over to it and start pulling out all the dirty laundry. By the end of this stage you should have a reasonable determination of what lies ahead for this couple.
Next we will delve into the cause and effect stage. "Tell me about the family who raised you." (Warning, if you know what comes next, steel yourself, cover your eyes, leave the room, or go find a biological relative to hug you and say, "Yes honey, I know, I know!") If you have an inquiring mind, are curious, or unable to look away, stay wired in for the next installment, "Cast of Characters," or as you may view it, "Do we really need this premarital counseling thing?"