As a way of strengthening marital life, society has marriage send-offs and bridal showers that advise on marriage matters.
Churches also organise special sessions to guide couples on issues of marriage, including how best they can treat each other to prevent marital frustrations and breakdown.
All this is based on the assumption that couples can learn to have a successful and stable marriage.
Relationship and marriage counsellor Robert Mkandawire considers premarital counselling as critical in building and sustaining healthy relationships.
He says people spend years in school studying human behaviour and interactions to help them understand, appreciate and effectively manage human diversity at the workplace, in businesses and communities.
Mkandawire adds this is done in recognition that without such essential skills, people would not appreciate diversity and consequently, there would not be peace and harmony.
He further notes that socially, people spend more time with spouses and families; and these relationships have their own dynamics which require necessary skills to effectively manage them.
Without any formal training to pass on the tips, Mkandawire notes that many young couples have had to learn things right inside the marriage institution, with mixed results.
“Experimenting with human emotions in relationships has led to frustrations, breakups and divorces. I, therefore, submit that pre-marital counselling goes a long way in helping young couples understand the differences that exist between males and females in relationships, their motive of going into relationships, how their backgrounds have shaped their view of relationships and how society and environment influence their relationship even further after getting married,” he says.
The counsellor says premarital counselling empowers young couples with conflict management and resolution skills which are vital to any healthy relationship.
Sociologist Martin Lefu states that premarital counselling is as important as the orientation period of any endeavor.
He argues that just as people get orientation in college, on a new job and when they visit new places, premarital counseling is equally important.
“Marriage comes with lots of adjustments to accommodate each other as a couple. As much as courtship helps couples learn each other, marriage is beyond just knowing someone; it is about living together in a lifelong commitment,” he says.
Lefu is also of the view that pre-marital counselling should be more comprehensive for both the man and the woman.
“A comprehensive counselling for couples is one which would cover many aspects of life, including finance, spiritual life, career, personal development, business and investment, family life, social life and conflict resolution among other topics,” he says.
He considers it imperative that pre-marital counselling should target both, considering that in most cases in Malawi, only women are targeted through bridal showers and the man benefits in just one or two topics. Generally, only few topics are discussed at bridal showers.
“It would be better if there were three sessions; one for the couple and a separate session for each of them. But all in all, just one session for both of them would be ideal,” says the sociologist.
A number of factors can predict marital satisfaction, including personal attributes, couples’ characteristics as well as communication and personality background.
However, pre-marital counselling for couples addresses many risk factors that may lead to divorce of conflict.