Preparing for marriage is possibly the most important step in your wedding planning journey. The wedding day is only a day (or maybe a few days for some) while marriage is a commitment that comes with its own set of challenges and responsibilities. Not only is marriage a lifelong partnership, but it is also an ongoing process of growth, understanding, and compromise. That is why seeking guidance from a professional, or a marriage counsellor or attending marriage preparation courses can provide you with invaluable insights to embark on this journey fully prepared and enable you to see through your promises to each other.
In this article, we share:
- Types of marriage preparation programmes
- When to go for a marriage preparation programme or workshop
- Marriage Preparation Programmes (MPP) available
- Tips for professional marriage preparation
Types of marriage preparation programmes
Marriage preparation programmes (MPP) come in various forms to cater to the diverse needs and preferences of engaged couples. Here we break down them into three main broad types:
- MPP in religious institutions: Offered by religious institutions, these courses focus not just on relationship building but also on the spiritual and sacramental aspects of marriage, emphasizing the values and principles of the specific faith. Often, the completion of the course is a pre-requisite for couples to be married by the religious institution. The course typically takes place over several weeks.
- Secular MPP and Pre-Marriage Counselling: Taking place over several weeks, these programmes are not tied to any particular religion and provide a more general approach to relationship building. They may cover topics like communication, conflict resolution, and financial management.
- Professional Marriage Workshops: These programs are usually held over a session or two and cover a broad spectrum of topics. They are designed to provide in-depth guidance in a condensed timeframe.
When to go for a marriage preparation programme or workshop
Certain programmes adhere to set schedules, particularly group MPPs. If you choose to go for a group MPP, it is advisable to review the available schedules in advance, enabling you to effectively plan your sessions amidst the demands of wedding planning. If you choose to go to a pre-marriage counsellor or professional workshops, the schedules tend to be more flexible.
As a guide, we recommend looking into attending an MPP or workshop at least 6 months before your wedding date. You will be pleasantly surprised by how these sessions can offer valuable support throughout your wedding planning journey!
Marriage preparation programme and workshops
Quite a number of counselling companies in Singapore offer pre-marital and marriage counselling. Below we highlight a counselling option and introduce a selection of other secular, viable alternatives.
Ivan Lee is a Clinical Therapist whose passion and aim is to empower clients towards their social, emotional, and mental well-being. Born in Singapore and trained in the United States, Ivan holds a Masters in Marriage & Family Counselling, and a Masters in Education.
Ivan offers Pre-Marital Counselling (PMC) to engaged couples who are in the process of preparing and planning for marriage, as well as to couples who are at a point in their relationship where they would like to seriously explore their readiness for marriage.
Typical topics that are explored include (but are not limited to):
- Your relationship history, how you came to be a couple, and your reasons for making this decision to progress towards marriage.
- Your unique personalities and temperaments that would interact and impact or influence your current life perspective.
- Financial planning / budgeting
- Roles & responsibilities of husbands and wives
- Communication/conflict management, etc.
Ivan would also routinely offer the use of marriage preparatory tools such as PREPARE/ENRICH or SYMBIS (at separate costs) that you may complete online, usually after the first session. A report from these tools will be generated and then used to guide discussions.
The number of sessions you can have is not fixed as each couple is unique and the final number of sessions depends largely on the pace at which you progress through the various topics. Couples who worked with Ivan typically come for 4-8 sessions, and payments are made per session.
Apart from Alliance Counselling, below we list some other alternatives that you may consider:
One of the services that stood out from Care Corner is ePREP (Online Prevention and Relationship Education Programme) which is a programme that allows you to complete with your partner online.
Touch Community Services
Touch provides Group Marriage Preparation Programme (MPP).
Fees: From S$395
You may also opt for the Individual Marriage Preparation Programme which provides the flexibility to focus more on specific needs of the couple. It is conducted over 3 or 4 sessions (a total of 8 hours).
Fees: Weekday day time from S$780 per couple; weekday evenings from S$860 per couple
EMCC (Eagles Mediation & Counselling Centre)
The Marriage Preparation Programme (MPP) is the starting point where couples embark on this journey as they prepare themselves for a lifetime of commitment to each other. The MPP is designed to improve and strengthen couples’ relationships and to provide useful skills in charting a fulfilling marriage roadmap. It is not intended to be a substitute programme for couples therapy or counselling treatment.
The Group programme will be conducted over two 4-hour group sessions. There are fixed schedules which you can refer to on their website.
There is also an Individual Couple format which consists of four 2-hour sessions (a total of 8 hours). Sessions can be conducted during office hours, and/or on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Sessions are fixed by appointment only.
Professional Facilitator Workshop
When it comes to marriage workshop facilitators, you have numerous options. If you specifically seek a certified expert with profound insights into the intricacies of marriage within an Asian cultural context, as well as a familiarity with wedding planning, Weiwei is the professional to connect with.
Weiwei specialises in wedding planning and building long-term relationships since 2009. The experiences that she has gained over the years broadened her perspective and deepened her cultural sensitivity through working with couples from diverse backgrounds.
Now, she is a certified Prepare/Enrich Facilitator and continues to serve couples through a workshop of meaningful discussions and building of strong marriage foundation.
Fees: S$200 for a 90-minute workshop, including access to PREPARE/ENRICH assessment
Tips for professional marriage preparation
We recognise that various circumstances may hinder the success of the courses and workshops that you and your fiance/e will be attending. In such situations, here are some valuable tips to consider:
- Communication is key: Developing healthy and open communication habits with your partner is essential. This involves active listening, where you give your full attention and show genuine interest in what your partner is saying, and respectfully sharing your thoughts and feelings for open, honest dialogue during the course and workshop. Communication is not just about words, but also about non-verbal cues and body language. Pay attention to these signals and learn to interpret them accurately. Effective communication can help build trust, resolve conflicts, and enhance emotional intimacy in your relationship.
- Manage expectations: Discuss and align your expectations about marriage, roles, responsibilities, finances, and future plans. It’s important to have a clear understanding of what each partner expects from the marriage and to find compromises when necessary. By having these conversations early on, you can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts down the road. Be open and honest about your needs, desires, and goals. Remember that both partners should have an equal say in decision-making and should contribute to the success of the relationship.
- Conflict resolution skills: Conflict is a natural part of any relationship, but it’s how you handle it that matters. Learn effective conflict resolution techniques, such as staying calm, seeking compromise, and fostering understanding. Practice empathy and strive to view things from your partner’s standpoint. By approaching conflicts with patience and empathy, you can find mutually beneficial solutions. It’s important to remember that conflicts should be seen as opportunities for growth and strengthening your bond, rather than threats to the relationship. Effective conflict resolution involves active listening, assertiveness, and a willingness to find common ground.
- Self-care and self-awareness: While marriage is a journey of two, it’s also essential to prioritize self-care and individual growth. Take time to reflect on your own needs, desires, and goals. Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfilment. By taking care of yourself and nurturing your own well-being, you can show up as the best version of yourself in your relationship. Remember that a healthy and happy individual contributes to a healthy and happy partnership.
As you move forward, we encourage you to continue exploring, learning, and growing together. Keep the lines of communication open, express your appreciation, and never lose sight of the friendship that underpins your partnership. Marriage is a beautiful voyage, so here’s to the journey ahead, and the wonderful adventure that is your marriage.
Look out for our next article on Marriage Preparation Guide – Self-Help Version (COMING SOON!) as an alternative if you are not able to commit to any courses or workshops!