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Best Online Premarital Counseling 2024

Medically Reviewed and Edited by 
Olga Kyrychenko, Psychologist

With premarital counseling gaining traction in recent years, especially among millennial and Gen Z couples, it is crucial to explore this growing trend and its significance in today’s relationships. Premarital counseling has become something not only professionals in the field promote – but also influential people like celebrity couples credit for their healthy bonds. Furthermore, it has moved forward from its religious foundations into a more empirical and results-driven approach.

Premarital counseling is no longer viewed as a “niche practice” and instead has become an important step in marriage preparation. As an article about marriage decline among young couples mentioned, if you or your partner is averse to counseling or therapy, it is less likely for you to form a strong connection that can actually lead to marriage.

Research shows that while state operated, mostly religious / traditional counseling, has no real effect on future divorce rates. Opposed to that, seeing an actual licensed professional does decrease this odds dramatically (by up to 20%).

Online premarital counseling services in the U.S provide diverse options tailored to couples’ needs, so it might be overwhelming for you to choose. I wrote this article hoping that I may be able to help you in narrowing down your options. Below, I will be discussing the unique benefits of online premarital counseling, and compare the top services available, which will help you decide if it aligns with your relationship goals.

(Click here to jump straight to my list of top 7 picks)

What is Premarital Counseling?

According to statistics, relationship problems and divorces happen because couples are not fully prepared for married life. Often, it’s because they haven’t considered prenuptial agreements or talked about other important matters. Sure, some couples opt for marriage counseling or undergo couples therapy once strains appear, but the question is: did they really need to?

Now, I want to be clear that I am not undermining the benefits marriage counseling and couples therapy bring to a relationship. In fact, I advocate for seeking professional help even if your relationship is not strained. Think of it this way: every stage of your partnership with someone deserves attention – be it during your engagement period, cohabitation period, or a tumultuous period after marriage, you can always use an expert’s guidance.

As of May 2024, there are currently 10 states that incentivize couples (wavering partial or full marriage license fees, marriage license discounts) who undergo premarital education programs. These programs vary per state but they all share the same goal: to strengthen the relationship and prevent marital problems that could lead to divorce. 

If you are not from the following states but are trying to see whether premarital counseling is something you need, then this guide will help you with your judgment. I understand that you may have your own preconceptions of premarital counseling since marriage is something inherently tied to religion, but some of these states do have psychologists or social workers as instructors for their premarital courses.

 

Nonetheless, if you are from the states I have mentioned above, then this article can serve as supplementary material. To further urge you to consider their premarital programs, I will discuss what premarital counseling entails and its benefits. Furthermore, if you are seeking alternatives to the programs your state offers, the ratings I will give my chosen online premarital counseling services can help you make an informed decision.

Top 7 Online Premarital Counseling Sites

Best Overall
ReGain review
Editorial Rating
97.3%
Pricing

$60- $80 Per Week

Promo

10% off for the first month

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Pros
  • Safe to use, operated by Betterhelp
  • Therapists are always available on chat and reply often
  • Only one person has to sign up
  • Best prices for couples therapy
Cons
  • No option for 3-way live sessions, you have to be in the same room with your partner
  • No way to text the therapists without your partner reading it
Best With Insurance
talkspace review
Editorial Rating
91.2%
Pricing

$69 - $109 Per Week

Promo

$80 discount on the first month

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Pros
  • Guaranteed response time 5 days a week
  • Affordable price and insurance accepted
  • Excellent customer service
  • One week free trial
Cons
  • Getting matched with a therapist can take a few days
  • No live sessions included in the basic plan
Best for Intensive Care
Couples Therapy Inc. Review
Editorial Rating
84.1%
Pricing

$150 - 229 Per Meeting

Promo

Free Consultation Meeting

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Pros
  • First Consultation Meeting is 100% Free
  • Many therapists who focus on the Gottman method
  • Provides intensive couples weekend retreats + online therapy
  • Can Choose Your Own Therapist
Cons
  • Much more expensive than other couples therapy sites
  • No mobile app
Best Christian Therapy
Faithful Counseling review
Editorial Rating
83.0%
Pricing

$50-$80 Per Week

Promo

7 Days Free trial

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Pros
  • Safe to use and operated by an industry leader
  • Excellent software and mobile app
  • 7 days free trial
  • Very affordable rates
Cons
  • Therapists are not biblical scholars and all primarily practice secular forms of therapy
  • Doesn’t work with insurance, Medicare or Medicaid
Premium Premarital Counseling Service
Editorial Rating
82.4%
Pricing

$150-$180 Per Week

Promo

None

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Pros
  • Counselor or therapist who specializes in premarital counseling
  • Tailored experience; answer a comprehensive questionnaire
  • Safe, very comprehensive privacy policy
Cons
  • Pricey; billed per session
  • Not covered by insurance
Self-Directed Premarital Counseling Service
Editorial Rating
78%
Pricing

$25-$65 Per Week

Promo

None

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Pros
  • Affordable, but mostly DIY
  • Tailored experience; in-app features are dependent on your needs and preferences
  • You can go through the program independently
Cons
  • No comprehensive directory of experts
  • Not covered by insurance
Best LGBTQIA+ Counseling
Editorial Rating
76.5%
Pricing

$269- $385 Per Session

Promo

None

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Pros
  • Guaranteed a counselor who specializes in LGBTQIA+ relationships
  • Lots of free resources particularly for LGBTQIA+ issues
  • Therapists well versed in EFT and Gottman
  • Excellent customer service
Cons
  • Current intake form is catered for gay couples even though they deal with all LGBTQIA+ people
  • Not as affordable as others
  • They try and help through FSA / HSA but don't work with insurance

What to Consider Before Choosing an Online Premarital Counselor

Most professionals who give online premarital counseling are licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs). Psychologists who are certified Gottman practitioners or are trained in emotionally focused therapy (EFT) are also ideal choices. Of course, licensed social workers, clinical counselors, and mental health counselors who have years of experience in helping people with relationship matters are good choices as well. Other alternatives may include relationship coaches and pre-licensed mental health counselors (MHC-LP) whose areas of interest are couples and families.

Another thing to consider is whether you need to seek a culturally sensitive practitioner. If you and your partner are part of a minority group or an interracial couple, you will benefit from seeing a counselor who can help you with some of the common issues and challenges you may be facing or will face during your married life.

It is highly recommended that LGBTQ couples undergo premarital counseling as well. There are more important things to consider and layout as compared to cishet unions so you might want to seek online counselors who recognize such a fact but will also treat your partnership equal to conventional ones. For more options, read my guide on the best LGBTQIA+ therapy online.

There are cases wherein you may be reluctant to go to an online premarital counseling session because of your view of it (or marriage in general) being religiously driven. However, there are a lot of secular premarital counseling – which I will further discuss in a later section- and online therapists who focus on the pragmatic aspects of the relationship rather than the spiritual ones.

Lastly, we can’t pretend like costs don’t matter. We all want the best for our relationships of course, but as mentioned above – money is one the biggest reasons for conflict to begin with. If the above recommendations all feel a bit too pricy, I highly suggest reading my guides on affordable online therapy and online therapy with insurance.

ReGain - Best Overall

ReGain, a user-friendly online platform owned by BetterHelp, specializes in online relationship therapy. It provides you with a convenient and accessible way to strengthen your bond with your partner.

They have a joint account setup, allowing you and your soon-to-be spouse to share a single account and communicate with your counselor together. ReGain also offers subscription options for unlimited live sessions via phone or video, with the flexibility to schedule appointments according to your convenience. Pricing ranges from $60 to $80 per week. Read my full ReGain review for more details.

ReGain Pros:

ReGain Cons:

  • Guarantee match with a counselor or therapist who specializes in relationship issues
  • Two ways to conduct sessions: three-way conferences or use one device with your partner
  • Easily accessible resources regarding premarital counseling

  • Part of the largest provider in the world (BetterHelp)
  • Comprehensive Privacy Policy
  • Not dedicated to premarital counseling so some important discussions may need prompting
  • not covered by insurance

  • Sometimes matching is not instant and may take days

Best With Insurance: Talkspace

Upon signing up, Talkspace guides you through a brief questionnaire to tailor your preferences, ensuring a personalized matching process. Unlike automated services, Talkspace utilizes live matching agents to connect you with a therapist suited to your needs.

This platform offers a private chat room accessible from your smartphone or desktop, allowing you to message your therapist when it suits you best. Read my detailed Talkspace review, or my comparison between Talkspace and BetterHelp to learn more about the platform. 

Talkspace Pros:

Talkspace Cons:

  • Accepts insurance; case to case basis
  • Easily accessible resources regarding premarital counseling

  • Excellent Customer Service

  • Can’t choose your own therapist – a chance to be matched with a therapist that does not specialize in relationship matters
  • Not dedicated to premarital counseling so some important discussions may need prompting

Best Intensive Premarital Counseling Service: Couples Therapy Inc.

Couples Therapy Inc. offers a unique approach called The Gottman Method (further explained in another section) to online relationship counseling, particularly through its intensive virtual weekend retreats.

They utilize video conferencing to provide structured online therapy sessions and intensive retreats, allowing you to engage with therapists from the comfort of your own homes. Per session you will be charged between $159 and $250, while for intensives it’s $238–$438. Their all inclusive couples retreat costs $2,500 at minimum.

Couples Therapy Inc Pros:
Couples Therapy Inc Cons:
  • Guarantee match with a counselor or therapist who specializes in relationship matters; all are Gottman trained
  • No subscription plans or financial aid are offered
  • Not as affordable as other platforms
  • Pricey; if you choose not to undergo their virtual retreats, you will be billed per session

  • Does not have a dedicated platform for online sessions – using Zoom or Google Meet.
  • Not covered by insurance

Best Faith-Based Counseling - Faithful Counseling

Operating as a subscription-based online therapy platform, Faithful Counseling connects you with licensed therapists sensitive to Biblically-aligned principles. With weekly sessions available via live video, phone, or texting, you have the flexibility to engage with their therapist in a manner that suits your preferences and schedule.

As of writing, you can only access Faithful Counseling by answering the preliminary questionnaire on BetterHelp’s website where you can request a Christian therapist. Every month you will be billed $260 to $360.

Faithful Counseling Pros:
Faithful Counseling Cons:
  • Guarantee match with a counselor or therapist who incorporate Christian beliefs in their practice
  •  All accessible through an app; convenient and easy to use
  • You will be able to be matched with a practitioner almost immediately
  • Not covered by insurance

  • Not dedicated to premarital counseling so some important discussions may need prompting
  • Not covered by insurance

Best Premium Service: Ours

Ours stands out for its exclusive focus on relationship therapy, catering to unmarried couples, those considering marriage, engaged couples, and married partners alike. Geared towards discerning couples seeking experienced therapists, Ours offers a blend of traditional talk therapy-style counseling and interactive online learning activities for you and your partner to choose from.

The sign-up process involves a personalized approach, beginning with a brief quiz followed by therapist matches based on your preferences. You will have to pay $200 per session with a four sessions package priced at $720. Meanwhile, their monthly subscription costs $600.

Ours Pros:
Ours Cons:
  • Guarantee match with a counselor or therapist who specializes in premarital counseling
  • You are able to review the profile of the therapist(s) they match you with before scheduling an appointment or requesting to be rematched
  • Pricey; billed per session

  • Not covered by insurance
  • While matching usually takes days, waiting for therapist availability may take months 

Best Self-Directed Premarital Counseling: HeyRitual

Hey Ritual stands out as a premier self-directed premarital counseling service, offering you a comprehensive blend of therapy sessions and supplementary digital resources. The platform’s app interface ensures accessibility, although during your initial sign-up and video sessions you may need desktop access.

The incorporation of quizzes and interactive elements facilitates deeper insights into you and your partner’s relationship dynamics and attachment styles fostering meaningful discussions. They offer different subscription options ranging from 100$ a month for a complete DIY, $260 for their short-term service and as high as $1170 for their long-term one.

HeyRitual Pros:
HeyRitual Cons:
  • Guarantee match with a counselor or therapist who specializes in relationship matters

  • their in-app features are tailored to your needs and preferences
  • Cheap if you go through the program independently
  • Not dedicated to premarital counseling so some important discussions may need prompting

  • No comprehensive directory of experts only those from the board
  • Not working with insurance 

Best LGBTQIA+ Premarital Counseling: Gay Couples Institute

This is a relatively small company based in California, owned by Sam Garanzini, MFT and his husband Alapaki Yee, MFT. They are both trained professionals in the Gottman method and have worked directly with its founders on a study specifically testing its effectiveness on gay and lesbian couples.

While not cheap at all, after speaking with the owner I feel this is the best solution for couples seeking specifically LGBTQIA+ friendly therapy. Being able to connect with a therapist who truly understand your uniqueness and issues you are dealing with can make a world of difference.

The Gay Couples Institute also recently started operating the The Queer Couples Center. Unlike what’s written on that site, all services are currently done online via Zoom, although private intensive care meetings face to face are also done upon special request.

While I do feel this is the best choice, it’s quite an expensive one. For a cheaper option, I recommend Pride Counseling. Operated by BetterHelp, they are affordable, have a great platform and are 100% safe to use. You can read my full Pride Counseling review here.

Gay Couples Institute Pros:
Gay Couples Institute Cons:
  • Guaranteed a counselor who specializes in LGBTQIA+ relationship
  • Some of the best free resources on LGBTQIA+ issues
  •  Highly qualified therapists
  • Prices are high
  •  Not covered by insurance

How Does Online Premarital Counseling Work?

Since online premarital counseling involves you and your partner, unlike in individual counseling, there are things you need to remind the other party of beforehand. Here are important topics you should not forget to talk about with your online premarital counselor:

  • Children: With perspectives about having children changing, it is important that you answer questions regarding having children during online premarital counseling so that there will be no damaging issues in the long run.
  • Cohabitation: A study highlighted that those who are currently cohabiting with their partner are more likely to perceive premarital counseling as insignificant because they have a more solid grasp of the relationship. So, if you have not lived under the same roof as your future spouse, then the topic of living together is something you should thoroughly discuss in your online marriage preparation sessions.
  • Communication and Conflict Resolution: I have previously mentioned that online premarital counselors would often make use of EFT techniques in premarital counseling. Such techniques would either be used to teach you conflict resolution skills or resolve any unsettled issues you might have before marriage.
  • Familial Ties: Besides talking about your in-laws and how family dynamics would change after marriage, online premarital counseling can also be a space for couples to discuss important matters that are often looked over.
  • Finances: Let us face it: goals – shared or individual, long-term or short-term – can only be achieved by having good financing. A lot of marital problems also stem from matters of finance. Therefore, therapists stress the importance of having such discussions before you get married.
  • Intimacy and Sex: Experts from the field of psychology continue to urge practitioners of marriage, couple, and family counseling to talk about matters regarding intimacy and sex. This includes talking about the current level of intimacy between you and your partner, your separate and shared sexual views. Another way to do so is by trying out dedicated online sex therapy platforms.
  • Views about Marriage: You are considering online premarital counseling because you may be recently engaged or you already have a date for your wedding and this is part of your wedding planning. Nonetheless, it is important to still ask what marriage means to you, to your partner, and your mutual view of it. Unpacking those views with your online premarital counselor can help align perspectives or challenge them.

Regardless of how online premarital counseling differs between providers, these are talking points that will have the most impact on the quality of your life as newlyweds. Other subjects you should consider talking about are traditions, individual circles, and both resolved and unresolved issues from the past.

There are also online premarital programs that are designed to be done independently by you and your future spouse. To check whether such a program is suitable for you, the themes mentioned above should be addressed or at the very least, mentioned in the said self-directed program.

Different Types of Online Premarital Therapy

I have previously mentioned that online premarital therapists may have different approaches and would therefore make use of varying techniques in their practice. In this section of the article, I will give concise overviews of what you can expect from each type.

The Gottman Method

A specialist from The Gottman Institute wrote an article about how the Gottman Method is applied in premarital counseling. In her article, she mentioned that she views premarital counseling as “preventative relational healthcare” and that knowing your strengths as a premarital couple and leveraging on that to make sure that your relationship grows well in the long run.

Seeking a Gottman-trained online premarital counselor will allow you and your partner to partake in facilitated exercises that would further solidify your relationship as it approaches a new chapter. Out of only 450 therapists worldwide who practice this approach, 30 are employed by Couples Therapy Inc. – so that might your best bet if you want to try it out.

Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT)

Online premarital counselors who are trained in EFT will address your concerns about emotional connection. EFT techniques allow you to develop skills that will help you in the future should you encounter problems with your marriage or even individual challenges that may affect your marriage.

You may expect an online premarital counselor who specializes in EFT to help you become more trustworthy or have more trust in your partner so that you will become a resilient couple. I have also written a long, dedicated article explaining what is EFT, its benefits, limitations and common uses, so i suggest you read that one as well if you are interested in this approach.

Solution-Focused Premarital Counseling

If your counseling sessions are grounded on solution-focused techniques, then you may expect to be guided in developing a “vision” for your future marriage. What this vision pertains to is a goal that requires collaboration – all the strategies that will eventually lead to the vision are derived from your existing skills and resources.

In other words, this treatment type encourages you to embrace your differences as a couple and instead, use those to move towards a healthy and happy marriage.

Psychodynamic Couples Therapy

Although this type is more prevalently used in conflict resolution, some of its techniques and strategies may be incorporated by your premarital counselor during sessions. You may expect a lot of discussion about individual and shared hopes and fears.

Through psychodynamic couples therapy, you and your partner will develop skills that can help you realize your hopes and support your partner should they face individual challenges in the future. Additionally, you may also discuss past and existing relationships that may have affected your attachment style or even your overall perspective of marriage.

Christian Premarital Counseling

In general, premarital counseling (and marriage) is viewed as something religious in nature. I will not challenge that perspective because it is, for the most part true that marriage is a religiously based insitituion. If not professionals trained in the field of psychology, those who facilitate premarital counseling are part of the Christian church.

Nonetheless, there are licensed online premarital counselors who incorporate Christian views and values into their practice. If you want your sessions to center around your Christian beliefs, then this type of online premarital counseling would be the most ideal. In such case, I suggest you check my list of the best Christian therapy services.

Secular Premarital Counseling

This type of premarital counseling is highly recommended for couples who have different religions or are not religious at all. If you and your partner do not share the same religion but want a harmonious married life wherein both of your religious practices and beliefs are respected, then this type of counseling will benefit you. 

Furthermore, if you do not want the focus of discussions to be about religion, then your online counselor who is trained in secular premarital counseling will abide by such a request.

It is worth noting that it is highly unlikely for your counselor to stick with just one approach or use the same techniques over and over. They are trained to recognize that each couple is unique and that you and your partner have your differences as well. 

Most virtual practitioners take a more integrative approach in online premarital counseling so it is important to know which practices you think are most suitable for your need as a couple.

What are the Benefits of Online Premarital Counseling?

Much like other types of therapies online, one of the primary benefits of online premarital counseling is its accessibility. A study conducted during the sudden shift from primarily in-person therapy to teletherapy highlighted that a lot of couples who were undergoing virtual counseling or therapy were satisfied with the online sessions they attended. 

To support such findings, research suggests that the availability of online tools for premarital couples has its benefits too. The researchers discussed that those tools can improve your knowledge and prevent problems you may encounter during your marriage like reproductive health issues.

Here is a short list of the more extensive benefits of online premarital counseling:

  • Lowers the chances of divorce and separation
  • Allows you and your partner to develop important life skills essential for married life 
  • Assesses whether the present state of your relationship is ideal for marriage
  • Provides a clearer and broader understanding of your partner and your dynamics
  • Equips you with “team mentality” – recognizing that married life = collaborative life

Is Online Premarital Counseling Effective?

A qualitative study investigated the lived experiences of couples who underwent premarital counseling. It revealed that based on their correspondence with 19 couples, premarital counseling has a positive impact on marital satisfaction. Even church-based premarital counseling programs are continuously being improved to maintain their effectiveness, based on newly gained scientific knowledge.

Premarital counseling offered by the state has been shown to have no significant effect on divorce rates. The researchers have suggested that contemporary alternatives to such premarital programs are ideal since they are more tailored and intensive. Online premarital counseling is one of those alternatives.

Marriage these days requires a lot more work to maintain. With shifts in relationship dynamics, practitioners are encouraging premarital couples to undergo this type of online counseling because of its capability to open difficult conversations that can make or break your marriage.

Online Premarital Counseling: What is it Not?

Some providers and practitioners refer to online premarital counseling as online pre-commitment therapy, pre-marriage counseling, or even premarital therapy. Based on its most common name, however, the idea is that it is counseling offered to couples who are about to get married.

Sometimes, terms can be a bit ambiguous. That is why I will be briefly discussing other therapy or counseling types that involve relationships and how they differ from online premarital counseling.

Premarital Counseling vs. Pre-Engagement Counseling

The tricky part here is that both counseling types happen before marriage. This article discusses the difference between them and highlights that pre-engagement counseling mostly focuses on whether or not you should push through with engagement or if you should wait a bit more before moving on to a new level of commitment with your current partner.

Premarital Counseling vs. Wedding Therapy

Again, both are professional guidance you may seek before marriage. However, compared to premarital counseling, wedding therapy is much more intensive as there are individual therapy sessions involved.

Even though you also discuss individual differences and issues in premarital counseling, in wedding therapy, theprimary goal is to prepare you as an individual for marriage rather than you and your partner as a premarital couple.

Premarital Counseling vs. Couples Therapy

Although there are couples who seek virtual couples therapy even if they are just dating or cohabiting but not married, couples therapy differs from premarital counseling in a lot of ways. The main thing that separates them is conflict.

more often than not, romantic partners undergo couples therapy when there is conflict. Premarital counseling also addresses conflict but mostly hypothetical ones that you may experience in your married life or past ones that may impact your marriage.

Premarital Counseling vs. Marriage Counseling

Marriage counseling, as its name suggests, is counseling you seek after you are already married. Similar to how premarital counseling differs from couples therapy, usually there is conflict involved when partners seek marriage counseling.

Furthermore, a study highlights that those who have received premarital counseling are more likely to experience lesser marital issues and therefore, would view marriage counseling as supplemental to their previous counseling experience rather than just for saving their marriage.

Premarital Counseling vs. Family Therapy

Premarital counseling does involve discussing family matters like having children or living with your partner’s family or your partner living with your family if you are not going to have your own space after marriage.

However, family therapy is much more complex and can even pertain to therapy sessions wherein specialists would guide the family in caring for or interacting with a family member who is diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

Do We Need Online Premarital Counseling?

In conclusion, the decision to pursue online premarital counseling is a deeply personal one, influenced by various factors unique to your relationship circumstances. If you seek alternatives to premarital counseling offered by your state, online modalities provide a convenient and accessible option. Additionally, if you reside in states without premarital counseling programs, you may find online counseling beneficial in preparing for your marriage.

Online premarital counseling can cater to your busy lifestyle or help you when you are having a difficult time locating a preferred counselor locally. It offers a nonjudgmental space for you and your partner to address concerns and make informed decisions about your future together. Whether navigating relationship challenges or seeking guidance in pre-marriage decision-making, online premarital counseling provides a platform for you to explore your thoughts and emotions in a supportive environment.

Ultimately, the need for online premarital counseling depends on your unique dynamics and needs. By prioritizing your relationship’s well-being and seeking professional guidance, you and your partner can embark on your marital journey with confidence.