As a partner to couples who are seriously dating, engaged, and even married for several years, I am honored every time they invite me to coach and mentor them to greater levels of relationship understanding, commitment, and fulfillment. As a certified coach for both Prepare & Enrich (http://www.prepare-enrich.com) and Save Your Marriage Before It Starts (SYMBIS, http://www.SYMBIS.com), couples typically ask me, “Which program would be best for us?” The simple answer is both. Ideally, the programs would be integrated to create the best of both worlds, but either program is packed with insightful information tailored to the couple.
Research (Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, SYMBIS) shows that those couples who participate in premarital coaching are 31% less likely to get divorced and have a 30% increase in marital fulfillment over those who do not. More facts that are worth considering: (1) couples who do not receive pre-marriage education are more likely to see their problems as atypical and unsolvable, and (2) 41% of divorced couples say lack of pre-marriage preparation contributed to their divorce.
Regardless of which program a couple chooses, I applaud each for deciding to invest in the health of their relationship. Even strong and aligned couples have been surprised in how much they learned about themselves and their marriage. For those who are seriously considering this investment, I briefly summarize the process and differences between the programs.
- Both programs require each person to take an online survey which captures pertinent information about the individual, couple, and their relationship.
- A report is created from the survey results. No report is the same as each relationship is unique.
- SYMBIS focuses on (1) marriage mindset, (2) individual and couple well-being, (3) relationship context around social support, finances, and expectations, and (4) personality dynamics that play out in love, sex, communication, conflict, and spirituality.
- Prepare & Enrich focuses on (1) relationship dynamics involving assertiveness, self-confidence, avoidance, and dominance, (2) stress influences, (3) identification of relationship strengths and opportunities for growth, and (4) practical tools for improving communication, conflict resolution, and financial management.
Prepare & Enrich typically unfolds over eight sessions; whereas, SYMBIS can usually be unpacked over 3-4 sessions, because it focuses more on discussion without the tools provided by the other program. Both programs have their merits, and either would be a worthwhile investment of time and money.
One of the most meaningful and rewarding pieces of feedback I received about the coaching experience was from a 56 year-old man who planned to marry for the second time. After going through the Prepare & Enrich curriculum, he said he learned so much about himself and relationships that he was recommending this program to his two young adult sons. He also mentioned that if he and his first wife had pursued premarital coaching, it may have saved his first marriage.
Many couples, who are on a relationship high, falsely believe they do not need relationship coaching and tools. I guarantee that marriage coaching, regardless of relationship strength, is a worthwhile investment to ward off future relationship struggles, emotional pain, and the cost of marriage counseling. Every serious relationship and marriage are worth the investment of premarital or marriage coaching. Regardless of where you live, I encourage you to pursue relationship coaching. If you live in the Houston area, I would welcome the conversation.
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional leadership coach with an extensive background in premarital and marriage coaching, education, and mentoring. She coaches individuals, and couples, as well as facilitates relationship workshops. She has a passion to help people experience outstanding marriages and relationships. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website www.shinecrossings.com