The importance of Pre-Marital Counselling

We came across this the other day and as this is growing need for our single and married couples, we thought we should share this. As Aman Killawi rightfully said, going through pre-marital counselling can avoid heartache and boiling issues that will arise after marriage. It is very important to understand the benefits of counselling and how it can help those about to get and already married.

Date Published: FEBRUARY 6, 2012 5:00 AM

Author: Amal Killawi

I spent my time at a recent wedding listening to people’s marriage problems. As the guests danced the night away in celebration, I sat in the back of the hall talking about shattered dreams and unfulfilled expectations. Sometimes, we had to scream to hear each other over the music. There was the young woman whose husband wouldn’t let her finish her education. Then, a friend wanted advice about dealing with her in-laws. And a mother cried as she shared her worries about welcoming her daughter home as a divorcee.

What a night! The reception ended with the passing of favors and du`a’ (supplication) for the newlyweds. I remember making extra du`a’ for the bride and groom.  Dear God, please bless them with a lasting and healthy union. Ameen. I left the wedding in deep thought and had trouble falling asleep that night. I was so moved by the irony of that experience.

In just the past few months, a significant number of marriages in my community have ended in divorce.  I know many more couples are on the verge of separation. Don’t get me wrong. I personally believe that divorce can be a healthier, and sometimes necessary, option.  But why are so many marriages ending so soon? What needs to change to foster a culture of commitment and responsibility?

All the stories shared with me that night had a common theme: None of the couples had premarital counseling before they got married.  No one had prepared them for the challenges of marriage, and many of their problems stemmed from issues that were not discussed before the wedding. A recent study1 about divorce in the Muslim community found that none of the divorced men and women in the study had formal premarital counseling, other than a brief meeting with an imam. Many of them wished they had been offered more extensive premarital counseling, and that they had easier access to counseling services once they were married and experiencing problems. It’s a sad testimony to the lack of marriage preparation in our communities.

When a couple announces their engagement, we rush to celebrate. Have we stopped to consider how much preparation and support the new couple will need for this decision of a lifetime? How many couples truly know what they’re getting into when they’re smiling for pictures on their wedding day? The love and excitement of the new relationship often blinds them from comprehending the reality that marriage is a sacred covenant with God. Wouldn’t it make sense to prepare for this spiritual partnership?

How is it that we invest so much time, money, and energy preparing for the wedding celebration and not for the marriage? We consider the smallest details for that special evening; yet we ignore the essential reason for our celebration—a commitment to spend a lifetime with another human being.  As one woman said to me, “I had two months to plan for the wedding. I was in love, and didn’t have time to think about any issue!”

Many couples mistakenly believe that they don’t need counseling before marriage and that conflict should be avoided. However, a certain level of conflict is healthy and necessary, and premarital counseling can offer an opportunity to discuss potential problematic issues.

Consider premarital counseling before you make a commitment for marriage.  According to Lisa Kift2 , a marriage and family therapist, premarital counseling will help you:

  1. Discuss role expectations. It’s important to talk about the responsibilities of each partner in marriage – who will take care of the finances, chores, etc? Discussing roles early on will clarify expectations for the future.
  2. Explore your spiritual and religious beliefs. What are your views on music, hijab, zabiha meat, and following a certainmadhab (school of thought)? Discussing these issues ahead of time will help determine your compatibility and help you learn to manage different opinions.
  3. Identify any family of origin issues. Much of what we learn about relationships comes from our parents and other family members. Identifying our early influences and discussing our learned behaviors will help us understand how this might play out in marriage.
  4. Learn communication and conflict resolution skills. Couples that communicate effectively can resolve conflicts more effectively. This will allow you to spend less time arguing and more time understanding.
  5. Develop personal, couple, and family goals. You are committing to share a life with someone. Isn’t it important to discuss what you want your future to look like together? Where do you want to be in three years? How many children do you want to have? Outlining a plan for life can be a wonderful way to learn about each other and to strengthen your commitment to each other.

Premarital counseling can protect couples from much heartache and conflict. Since prevention is central to our deen, many imams and community leaders now require premarital counseling and education prior to the marriage ceremony—a guaranteed investment in happier couples and healthier marriages.

What’s your take?

  • Do you think that premarital counseling would be helpful to prospective spouses?
  • What issues should be covered/ discussed in premarital counseling?
  • How can couples be encouraged to attend premarital counseling?

Share your thoughts below.



Add yours
  1. R. O.

    Assalamu alaykum all

    NO REASON TO HIDE – Jazak Allah khayr!

    About seeking help from non-Muslims, it is probably not the best option for us to seek help from non-Muslim counselors (especially as a couple–maybe! not that I tried that–as I mentioned before my ex refused) but it proved to be really helpful to me. Pain, heartache, abuse, manipulation, etc are things that both Muslims and non-Muslims and the emotions we go through are similar. So, on that level it was quite helpful to me (I never forgot to rely on Allah swt but didn’t hesitate to follow the advise of the professional).

    R. O.


    Asalam alaikum rahmatullahi wa barakatu,


    I know I am very late with my comments to this subject
    but,I just rejoined H.O.D. and wanted to respond to some of the things I have just read. insha ALLAH.
    The person who would fill the role of the premarital counselor is the Wali or Wakil(if it’s a non relative). If the female doesn’t have one,(a wali) the Imam is her Wakil. Without this process the marriage is invalid. Based on proof given by major scholars such as sheik AL ISLAM(ibn TAMMIYAH rahimahu) not given by me.

    The job of the Wali or in this case the Wakil is to protect the rights of the Muslimah, he has no obligation to the man’s feelings WHAT SO EVER! His
    Only CONCERN IS HER! Before the couple even gets married this is to be understood by the Muslim seeking her hand in marriage! It is also the duty of the Wakil to maintain contact with the couple(periodically) to make sure her rights are being

    Before marriage the Wali or in this case the Wakil is to sit with the man only(first) and judge his grasp of the DIN and his character according to the Qur’an and the sunnah( not his opinion)If he is satisfied with those two THINGS(meaning:he cannot find any MAJOR flaws,NO ONE IS PERFECT) THEN, he is to
    sit down with the couple and make sure they both understand the rights of the husband and the rights of the wife and most importantly the seriousness of the covenant they are about enter with Allah swt. insha ALLAH and what it would mean to break it!

    Should a conflict arise between the couple which they cannot resolve between the two of them THEN
    NEITHER the husband nor the wife can RIGHTFULLY refuse to do this and it should be understood by both BEFORE THE MARRIAGE TAKES PLACE!

    This Din is complete, Allah swt. said so! But, we must
    first understand the Islamic Jurisprudence (FIQH) concerning marriage and ALL other aspects of the Din so that we can strive to properly implement them.
    A non Muslim cannot give us advise about marriage or many other aspects of life simply because they do not live as we do. I am not coming down on non Muslims, I am just about the only Muslim in my family
    and I do not sever ties with my family(it is haram to do
    so) But, if you are a cat you do not go to a dog to get advise on how to be a cat. It’s simple: A DOG CAN ONLY GIVE ADVISE ON HOW TO BE A DOG. I am not saying I understand all legislation concerning this DIN nor am I a scholar by any means,I must strive to learn and improve as we all must insha ALLAH.

    Anything I have said of truth is from Allah swt.,anything false is from me and I seek refuge with Allah swt. from those statements.

    Aslam alaikum ramatullahi wa barakatu UMMAH,


  3. huda ayyad

    (maybe you can use this piece for your fb page?)

    Today in a lecture about marriage, the imam (Imran Salha) said something I havent heard of from past books,lectures, or articles on marriage. He mentioned a differnt aya about marriage, he mentioned the following aya,

    “And let the ones who do
    not find (the means) to wed keep
    abstaining until Allah enriches them of His Grace..”24:33

    The imam said, this means to fill your time with things other then marriage until Allah provides you with marriage. Dont think about marriage, go to the masjid, volunteer, finish school, marriage will come to you when Allah wills from sources you dont know of.

    Make your focus towards Allah not marriage. You cannot work towards marriage because marriage comes from Allah. Connect with Allah and then inshallah Allah will provide you with marriage.


  4. Curious Muslim

    People did get married before we had marital counseling and marriages of older generations (as a society) were more stable than the current ones.

    So, what do you think we are missing that the older generation had? I am not against counseling. I think seeking advice is a good thing before jumping into anything. I am just curious.

  5. R. O.

    Assalamu alaykum,

    Sister moonlight, I am on the same boat as you sis. My ex-husband also refused the idea of counseling (via a friend or a professional–muslim or non-muslim). I ended up seeking counseling from non-muslims after the divorce because we don’t have such resources in our muslim community (unfortunately), but no alhamdulilah the issue of Islam or culture did not come up (I think the fact that I was married to an American muslim made them not even think about how Islam influenced it–weird!)

    I don’t think that counseling before marriage is a must (unless we re-define counseling to become “getting to know each other”). One important issue to figure out is whether the other party will be willing to get help (in case some things go wrong in the marriage) whether it is help from family, friends, or professionals. I am all for the couple figuring things out on their own, but sometimes one just had to accept the fact that help is needed!

    Overall, I agree with TiredofLooking about not making things more complicated. I think the key point here is not to get all caught up with the celebration and preparation that we forget about the more important things.

    For those who have not been married before, I do encourage some kind of “counseling”; more like talking to those who are married (find happy couples and ask about how a healthy relationship should be and what challenges are there to overcome…etc).

    Fee aman Allah

  6. TiredofLooking


    Sound advice when it’s not hard to find a potential match.

    However, I think that’s not the case. It is fairly difficult to find a potential spouse. At least that’s the case for people like me who cannot rely on any (local) “cultural” help because they don’t conform to any particular culture (e.g. Arab, South Asian, etc). Sites like HOD are a good effort, but online matchmaking in general has a poor “conversion” rate.

    So given all that, it’s not a good idea to raise barriers to getting married. And anything “formal” is a barrier.

    On the other hand, advice about marriage in an informal settng (via friend, imam, or even pamphlets) can’t hurt.


  7. Naaima

    This is absolutely true. It’s sad that there are not extensive premarriage counseling services available even for couples who really want to do marriage counseling. My advice is also not to marry anyone who does not make time beofre the wedding to do such counseling. Get the counseling first and then pick a wedding date. So many of our relationships are focused on the drive toward the wedding date once a couple has started speaking to each other that pressure builds on the young woman and man to keep things going as a couple that is about to get married. We need to get rid of this cycle. It’s bad. We need to learn as a community to give time to people who are deciding and not expect them to come to quick decisions.

  8. moonlight

    I think premarital counseling would probably be helpful, but who is to fill this need? I couldn’t even get counseling during the time my marriage was disintegrating. The imam told me (over the phone) that there was a counselor, but as he was a man he would only see me together with my husband (who refused). There are no muslim counselors I could locate in the community. I finally got counseling post-divorce from a non-muslim, at the urging of my doctor. The first thing she asked me was about the “connection” between my religion and the abuse I’d gone through :/

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