Dan and I are getting married this Saturday (!!!???). It’s been a pretty long engagement, and if we could do it over again, I’d rather get married sooner and spend much less time planning a wedding. But here we are, finally.

A couple of months ago, we teamed up with a therapist for pre-marital counseling. It was important to me for us to prepare for marriage by going through this counseling. We had attended an 8-hour pre-marital workshop in January and enjoyed it, but I knew we’d benefit from more support. But it can be an expensive investment, so is it worth it? You’ll have to figure that out for yourself. But here are the steps to help you get there.

Figure Out Your Budget

We struggled with finding a pre-marital therapist who takes insurance. In fact, I couldn’t find one at all that was taking new clients. It was so frustrating! And I’ve heard my friends having the same problem, so you should prepare for that possibility and start planning accordingly.

Even though we would have to pay out of pocket, it was important to me, so I was willing to make the investment. I allocated a portion of my monthly business income one month to make it happen. Not everyone has that luxury, so figure out what you can afford. Do you need to find a therapist that accepts insurance so that you only have to pay for your co-pays? Do you have to delay for a few months while you save up to pay for it? Figure out what makes the most sense for you and your partner financially and go from there.

Find a Therapist in that Budget

Once you’ve figured out your budget, and whether or not your insurance will cover this endeavor, it’s time to find a therapist. And it should be one that you like and trust.

We used someone from the Imago Center in DC, because they focus specifically on romantic relationships. Imago therapists ran the workshop we attended in January, and we enjoyed their approach. So we found an Imago therapist whose office was actually right across the street from our house! That made it a lot easier to have our 90-minute sessions in the morning so Dan didn’t have to miss too much work (this is an important thing to consider!).

You can use online tools like ZocDoc and Psychology Today to find a therapist in your area. You can also filter for your insurance provider to see if you can find anyone who takes your insurance. You can also typically use your insurance provider’s website to do a search.

Schedule Your Sessions

Our therapist said that four to five 90-minute sessions is the typical amount that her clients commit to. We scheduled four sessions ahead of time to get them on our calendar and ensure that we would complete all of them. If you know that you or your partner struggle with following through on things like this, schedule them all up front so that you know you’ll finish the process.

Put in the Work

Just like with most self-work, the work you do IN the session is not the only work you need to do. If your therapist gives you homework, do it, and don’t just do it five minutes before your session. Practice the communication tactics that you learn in the sessions. Keep in mind the things that your partner has mentioned. Pre-marital counseling (just like any therapy) won’t be effective if you’re not taking the lessons home with you.

Don’t End the Conversation There

After pre-marital counseling is done, all of your problems are not miraculously solved. You have to continue communicating your needs and practicing effective communication. For us, pre-marital counseling actually brought up several things that we need to discuss more and work on. I will be starting individual therapy for myself once I am on Dan’s health insurance to work on some of my own issues, and we plan to eventually begin couple’s therapy. There is a false assumption that if you’re in couple’s therapy that your relationship is in trouble. I think that most people wait until it’s too late to start therapy, so it’s always better to start early and have a third party help you sort through your struggles.

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether or not you think this investment is worthwhile. I personally think self-work is always worth the cost, especially if it improves your relationship and your satisfaction within that relationship. Do your research and see what makes the most sense for you. Good luck!

Are you planning on investing in pre-marital counseling? Have you done it in the past? Share your experiences in the comments!