What is a Relationship Inventory or Premarital Assessment?

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Taking a relationship assessment or doing a premarital relationship inventory during premarital preparation or premarital counseling can feel intimidating.

How much time will this take?

How much do I have to tell the priest about my personal life and my past?

What if we fail?

Some people love personality tests and assessments, but when it comes to taking one as a couple, and sharing it with a priest or marriage mentor, it may bring up feelings of vulnerability, anxiety, or fear. Although those emotions may be warranted (you are doing something new and unfamiliar), approaching the premarital assessment with an open mind and a little courage can yield wonderful benefits for your future relationship.

What is a Premarital Assessment?

The kind of assessment you take (and there are many!) isn’t as important at the core purpose of a premarital assessment. The core purpose of the assessment is to reveal talking points that your priest or mentors can use to guide helpful discussions about your relationship.

A premarital assessment is not a tool used to grade your relationship; you cannot fail a premarital assessment. 

Learning the areas you and your future spouse are more and less compatible can facilitate helpful dialog between you and your partner as a couple and with your priest or marriage mentors. Premarital assessments are filled with research-based questions that provide helpful data about who you and your partner are as individuals and as a couple.

The results of your premarital assessment will reveal your personal and relationship strengths and help you identify areas of growth.

If you want to pursue deeper connections and have a healthy relationship, the premarital assessment is integral to your life as a married couple. 

How honest do I have to be in my premarital assessment?

We all have a tendency to protect our vulnerable parts, and the thought of doing a premarital assessment and then talking it over with your partner and priest or marriage mentor may tempt you to hide some parts of yourself.

Being honest about yourself and your relationship will provide the best results on your premarital assessment.

If you want your premarital assessment to yield helpful results, you shouldn’t hold back when answering questions. Even though a good premarital assessment will detect inconsistencies, your honesty will honor you, your future spouse, and the entire marriage preparation process.

Taking the time needed to complete the assessment honestly, discuss it with your marriage preparation partners, and reflect on the results yourself will strengthen the foundation of your future marriage. Although the premarital assessment will not magically fix any serious issues it may reveal, it will provide a starting point for a healthy dialog moving forward.

What are the benefits of doing a premarital assessment?

It is no secret that marriage is difficult, and throwing yourself wholeheartedly into the marriage preparation process won’t make you immune to its challenges. However, research has proven that couples who engage in premarital counseling are happier and more realistic about their relationships, and those who take certain premarital assessments have a reduced rate of divorce.

Premarital counseling and premarital assessments can improve your relationship and reduce the chance that your marriage will end in divorce.

Think of all the ways you make your partner a priority and work hard to have a good relationship. The premarital assessment is just one more tool that will help you better understand yourself and your partner,  and taking it seriously will point your future marriage in the right direction.

On a personal note:

My husband and I went through premarital counseling in the Catholic Church over 25 years ago. We thought it was fun to spend time together learning about our differences and figuring out how to talk about things that we hadn’t yet discussed – like divorce, life insurance, and the spiritual principles we would teach our future children. We both had previous relationships – some good and some bad – and it was embarrassing to talk them over with our priest. However, we pushed through the awkwardness and got honest with our mentors and each other. We’ve looked back at the conversations that resulted from our premarital assessment and counseling several times over the years, and we are always grateful for the foundation of honesty and openness that it laid for our future.

Any time we’re faced with a “test” it can bring up a slew of emotions, but the premarital assessment is simply a tool used to get your marriage off to a great start. Understanding its purpose, committing to honesty, and recognizing the value of the premarital assessment will position you and your partner for a successful beginning to a lifetime as a couple.