It depends where you live.

By Courtney Levia
April 03, 2020
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JGI/Jamie Grill

Premarital counseling is something that can be beneficial to a couple before they walk down the aisle, as discussions with a therapist, religious leader, or counselor can help you strengthen your bond and better understand what you're both looking for in a marriage. However, it's important to note that, in some states, signing up for premarital counseling can also result in a discount on your marriage license, making it wise to check state laws accordingly. In states like Oklahoma, for example, a couple has to attend four hours of education or counseling for the discount on their marriage license, according to Ashlee Day, NCC, LPC, LADC.

According to the Oklahoma County Clerk, the $50 marriage license fee is reduced to just $5 if premarital counseling is completed. This reduced fee shall will be given to any couple who is able to present to an original certificate of successful completion of a premarital counseling program, the website adds. To give you a better understanding of how this discount works, we spoke to another Oklahoma-based licensed marriage counselor about all the ins-and-outs surrounding the topic. Below are some of the key points they recommend keeping in mind—as always, check the rules in your locale.

Don't Make Assumptions

In terms of getting the discount, Licensed Marital and Family Therapist Candidate Kristen Callaway, MS, says that it's important to understand the specific state's requirements, and not to make assumptions. "For example, Oklahoma requires a minimum of four hours of a premarital counseling program facilitated by certain categories of professionals (health professional, official representative of a religious institution, and so forth)," she says.

Inquire with the Leader of Program First

"Meeting with a pastor for one hour and receiving a letter of completion would not be sufficient," Callaway suggests. Many churches or counseling agencies may specifically advertise that their program meets the state's requirements, but it's always a good idea to inquire directly with the person leading the program, she says.

View Your Sessions as a Relationship Health Checkup

When approaching premarital counseling, Callaway explains that it may be helpful to view the program (sessions) as a relationship health checkup—comparable to a yearly health physical with a doctor. "The sessions can confirm what's going well, and what may need to be adjusted," she says.

Make Sure Your Appointments Are Effective

"Unless the couple is aware of specific issues to be addressed, unstructured sessions might feel confusing and unhelpful," Callaway says. "I like to use the Prepare & Enrich assessments to guide my premarital sessions, as the couple completes the assessment individually on numerous topics related to relationship health, and the results allow me to see the similarities the couple has and also the possible points of contention," she adds.

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