Premarital counseling


THE COUPLE BEFORE MARRIAGE navigates a complex journey that involves both falling in love and establishing a firm commitment. Premarital counseling specifically targets engaged or soon-to-be-married couples, providing them with support, guidance, and tools to build a solid foundation for their future marriage.

The premarital counseling and training offered by PAIRS present a wealth of resources to enhance the couples’ intimate relationship, as well as to enrich and deepen their personal and family lives.

PAIRS aims to achieve three main objectives: (1) realigning attitudes and beliefs regarding love, relationships, marriage, and family life; (2) equipping each partner with self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and emotional effectiveness; and (3) addressing ineffective behaviors that hinder intimacy by teaching behaviors and skills that promote intimacy and enhance relationships.

Premarital counseling: PAIRS Curriculum

The comprehensive PAIRS curriculum consists of six primary sections. The following summary provides an overview of particular exercises and essential concepts.


The therapist teaches couples to engage in the Daily Temperature Reading, where they share appreciation, information, puzzles, complaints with requests for change, and hopes and dreams. They learn communication styles and the Leveling Style to express feelings empathetically. The program focuses on direct conflict engagement, anger management, and constructive conflict resolution. Couples break emotional barriers, express vulnerability, and build trust. Issues of Power dynamics and assumptions are addressed. 


To address a partner’s assumptions, Mind Reading toll is taught to respectfully check assumptions and seek clarity. Couples become aware of their hidden assumptions by identifying Love Knots, and unexamined beliefs that harm relationships. By recognizing and untangling these knots, couples prevent them from sabotaging their relationship.


Through psychodramas, genograms, and personal reflections, couples explore family systems, influences from their family of origin, and early experiences. Emotional allergies and intense overreactions are recognized as responses to past pain. Healing tools like confiding past hurts and using journaling exercises promote understanding and compassion. Couples learn to break free from grudges and reclaim their personal history, fostering trust and intimacy.


Couples learn about the Brain and Behavior model, understanding how emotional memory can resurface in the present. Different positions for holding partners during intense emotions are taught. Through this process, couples develop empathy and compassion for each other, overcoming fear of emotional intensity. They learn to comfort and support each other.


The therapist focuses on removing barriers and developing skills for greater sensory stimulation, touch, and physical closeness. Participants discuss early experiences, challenge stereotypes, and engage in guided exercises to promote pleasurable touch. Couples have explicit conversations about preferences, address communication barriers, and are encouraged to be creative in giving and receiving pleasure.


In the last stage, the Powergram model is used to examine power dynamics and decision-making in the relationship. Couples identify areas where they can change the division of power and responsibilities to ensure both partners are satisfied. The Museum Tour of Past Decisions helps couples review and learn from past decisions that may still carry resentment or hurt.


Premarital counseling is a powerful tool that empowers engaged couples to proactively invest in their future marriage. By participating in premarital counseling, couples gain valuable insights, acquire essential relationship skills, and lay a solid foundation for a lifelong partnership filled with love, understanding, and resilience. Investing time and effort in premarital counseling is a significant step toward building a strong, fulfilling, and lasting marriage. Remember, a successful marriage is not just about the wedding day; it’s about the commitment to grow together and face life’s ups and downs as a united team.

Source: Handbook of Couples Therapy, Harway, M. (2005).


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