As the basis for our survey, we mailed over 2000 churches a survey concerning premarital counseling under a federal grant to study the effects of attending premarital. Over 200 churches responded to the survey. We also held follow-up interviews with forty of the responding churches to gain additional information from the pastors about their premarital counseling program. The results of this survey and subsequent interviews, summarized, are as follows:
Of the surveys received, and the subsequent interviews
- 72% of churches felt that premarital counseling reduces divorce
- 81% felt the counseling had the greatest effect during the first two years of marriage
- 56% of those surveyed felt premarital counseling was most effective with communication skills.
- Other areas in which these churches felt premarital counseling was helpful included:
- spirituality 16%, financial matters 12%, and sexuality 7%.
- 70% of those who responded are satisfied, for the most part, with their existing program.
- 70% of the churches thought that more weeks should be added to their premarital counseling process as well as group sessions for couples prior to marriage.
Of the churches surveyed 75% used several tools with the two most common being Prepare-Enrich and Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Other commonly used assessment tools included FOCUS, Taylor Johnson Temperament Analysis, and Premarital Awareness Inventory.
57% of the churches included books in their premarital counseling. The top five books used are as follows:
- Five Love Languages
- Before I Say I Do
- His Needs / Her Needs
- The Bible
- Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts
In the follow-up interviews, we found that “books” were mentioned the most for things that help the “least” in premarital counseling. Most of the pastors interviewed felt as though most couples didn’t read the books, for whatever reasons. The other topic that seemed to be the least helpful was “Family of Origin issues.”
Of the churches surveyed, only 32% extend premarital counseling beyond the time of marriage. In the follow up interviews, we found that all of the churches wanted more topics added; or, a more in depth coverage of certain topics. Topics needing more focus included: communication 34%, spirituality 26%, more time to included more coverage of existing topics 24%, group sessions with mentors both before and after marriage 11%, and finally, financial matters 5%.
Please contact us to obtain more information on setting up a premarital counseling program in your church.
Thanks to all the churches who participated in this study.