Bonnie Summers, MA, LMFT, BCPCC


Counseling| > Marriage | Parenting | Women's Issues


Pre-Marital Counseling:
An Investment in Marriage and the Future

Bonnie Summers, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist


It has often been said that more time and money is spent on planning “the wedding” rather than planning “the marriage.” In fact, this is overwhelmingly apparent as we are reminded of the statistics currently reporting that over half of marriages end in divorce. This is a very discouraging statistic.

Many pastors and leaders of the church, as well as leaders in the secular community recommend premarital counseling to couples who are about to be married. I agree. I believe strongly in premarital counseling and its value in helping couples build strong foundations and healthy relationships before marriage.

Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, Christian authors and well-known specialists in marriage counseling have found that “living happily ever after is less a mystery than the mastery of certain skills.” In their book, Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, the Parrotts focus on building a successful marriage and developing skills that marriage specialists have found in their research over the past two decades to be critical in healthy marriages.

These identified skills are some of the skills that I focus on in my premarital counseling work with couples. Some of these skills include:

  • establishing healthy expectations of marriage
  • identifying a realistic concept of love
  • developing a positive attitude and outlook toward life
  • learning how to effectively communicate feelings and thoughts
  • developing an understanding and acceptance of gender differences and extended families
  • acquiring the ability and the skills to make decisions and settle argument
  • nurturing a spiritual foundation and developing the ability to become soul mates
Two options that I offer couples for pre-marital counseling are as follows:
The first option is what I call the "Basic Pre-Marital Counseling" package.  This typically involves four counseling sessions and includes a pre-marital relationship assessment/inventory.  This relationship inventory, called Prepare/Enrich, involves completing a questionnaire about areas of marital relationship including communication, conflict resolutions, finances, spirituality, extended family, parenting and more.  The counseling sessions will involve taking the assessment and using the results as a basis for exploring the areas of your relationship in which you have strengths and identifying those areas in your relationship that offer opportunities for growth.
The second option is what I call the "In-Depth Pre-Marital Counseling" package.  Here, I strive to provide an in-depth, biblically-based premarital counseling experience. This option will provide you the opportunity to spend additional time on "the marriage." By investing more time in pre-marital counseling, you will be able to address important issues that can strengthen your marriage for years to come.
The In-Depth Pre-marital Counseling option typically includes between 8 to 10 sessions. Specifically, this program is comprised of the following:

• An in-depth family of origin history and understanding
• The Prepare/Enrich Pre-marital Inventory
• The Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory
• A book/workbook addressing important marital issues that you will complete with the therapist.

The goal of these additional offerings is to increase a couples’ understanding and to gain insight into important areas of their relationship that are currently strength areas as well as on-going growth areas. We have found that the more one knows about him/herself and his/her relationships with a spouse, the better equipped the couple will be to embark on their life together in marriage.

It is my hope to equip couples with the skills they need to grow healthier, more successful marriages… the way God intends for it to be.

To schedule an appointment for pre-marital counseling or for further information,
please contact Bonnie Summers at (925) 890-7651.