Pre-Marital Materials

Premarital Counseling

Bryan Brown

Three to Get Ready by Howard Eyrich compared and contrasted with Prepare / Enrich program and the Relate Institute Relate and Ready programs


To best compare and contrast Three to Get Ready with the tools found in the Ready and Relate programs, and the Prepare and Enrich Programs, it would be best to give a summary of each of them.  With each program and the tools used, I will begin by briefly describing each and include the following elements:

  1. Target audience for the assessment
  2. Tools used to determine the outcome of each instrument
  3. Focus areas of assessment
  4. Perceived strengths and weakness of the assessment

I will then seek to compare and contrast the program and the tools used to those that are found in Three to Get Ready by Howard Eyrich.

  1. I. Ready and Relate programs of the Relate Institute.

Relate was developed by the Marriage Study Consortium at Brigham Young University and was designed at the time to be one of the most comprehensive premarital/marital assessment available. This current version of the questionnaire is designed for use for individuals or couples at every point of relationships – those who are single and unattached, steady dating, engaged, cohabiting, married, or contemplating remarriage.  There are basically two tests that one can take through the relate institute – Relate and Ready.

Ready helps people who are not currently in a relationship to discover their relationship preparedness.  The Ready questionnaire was developed to help those who are not currently in a relationship to identify potential trouble spots that may arise in the future when they are in a relationship.

Ready consists of 172 questions focused on the four major areas:

  1. Personality/values
  2. Family and friend support
  3. Communication skills
  4. Upbringing/background

The goal of Ready is help an individual through reflection of personal history and preferences, as well as insight into one’s strengths, challenges, and various attitudes that would affect future relationships.  Included in the outcomes of the assessment are suggestions for development and reading.[1]

Relate Institute’s Relate is recommended if a person is in a committed relationship, whether that be engagement, marriage, serious dating, or even cohabiting.  Relate can be taken alone, but is much more insightful if taken with ones fiancé (e) or spouse.  Although Relate covers the same basic areas of focus as Ready, it is more extensive as it not only provides similar information as mentioned above, but it also compares answers with those of your partner.  By comparing answers, one can gain insight into problem areas, as wells as potential strengths and weaknesses within the relationship.  Comparing attitudes in many areas also gives insight and suggestions for healthy discussion and improvement.[2]

  1. II. Prepare and Enrich Programs

Prepare/Enrich began in 1980 at the University of Minnesota in which Dr. David Olson developed a set of inventories for couples.  Prepare/Enrich does offer flexibility and a customizable plan that is completed online.  The assessment identifies a couple’s strength and growth areas. It seems to be widely used by church and professional counselors in premarital counseling. Based on a couple’s assessment results, a trained facilitator provides 4-8 feedback sessions to help the couple discuss and understand their results as well as taught communication and relationship skills.

The Prepare/Enrich Program is designed to help couples in many ways, including the following:

  • Explore strength and growth areas
  • Strengthen communication skills
  • Explore family of origin issues
  • Discuss financial planning and budgeting
  • Establish personal, couple and family goals
  • Understand and appreciate personality differences
  1. III. Compare and Contrast with Three to Get Ready

Some interesting statistics were found in an on-line article on the Marriage CoMission website entitled Preparation for Marriage. Below are some of the research findings that were cited:

  • Premarital preparation can reduce divorce rate by 30%. (Stanley, Amato, Johnson & Markman,2006)
  • A recent meta-analysis of 11 experimental studies found significant differences favoring couples who received premarital education. The overall effect size was very large (.80), representing a 79% improvement in all marital outcomes compared to couples who did not receive premarital education. (Carroll & Doherty, 2003)
  • Couples who participate in a premarital program (PREPARE) significantly increased their couple satisfaction. In a recent outcome study, couples improved in 10 out of 13 relationship categories. (Knutson & Olson, 2003)[3]

Needless to say, these statistics reinforce the importance of premarital counseling.

As I looked over the information given and was able to take the Ready test as well (although I did not receive the fee-based summary).  My observation was that both Relate / Ready and Prepare / Enrich are, as most such questionnaires, an objective look at one’s self and relationship.  One difference between the Relate and Ready and both Prepare/Enrich and Three to Get Ready is that although the websites suggested that the use of the information gathered was most productive when discussed together with a counselor, there did not seem to be an emphasis here.  Both Prepare/Enrich and Three to Get Ready are to be taken in context with a trained counselor.  Someone equipped to help interpret and apply the results of the assessment is key.  While I am sure that the different assessment tools used in Three to Get Ready such as the Trait Factor Inventory, the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis, and Sex Awareness Inventory could be used in isolation – that would seem to be the exception, not the desire or the rule of thumb.

One important thing pointed out Dr. Eyrich in Three to Get Ready is the primary concern in premarital counseling of the heart and attitude of the participants.  While objective assessment may reveal a wrong thought or attitude, it is powerless to help the couple.  This is where a pastor or counselor is needed to give insight, interpretation, challenge, and comfort to the objective data.

I also appreciate that the counseling methods that are put forward in Three to Get Ready are focused on biblical truth.  This is an obvious difference between Three to Get Ready and both of the other assessment tools.  The nature of the spiritual questions and Biblical references are evidence of this difference.  There can be little real help for the issues that a couple will face apart from the truth of Scripture and an understanding of biblical problem solving.  Solutions that do not ultimately lead the couple to Jesus and the truth of the Bible are faulty at best, but can be potentially destructive to the relationship.

Along the same lines, Prepare/Enrich and Relate and Ready offer no paradigm for thinking about the biblical concept of being equally yoked.  While both of these programs have been used by churches, one considerable difference is the lack of these foundational elements.  Being equally yoked, a prerequisite to marriage, is often viewed as little more than both having a profession of faith.   Dr. Eyrich does not leave the couple with such ambiguity.  In Three to Get Ready, the counselor is challenged and equipped to engage the couple concerning this biblical framework.  Dr. Eyrich succinctly states that the equal yoke involves four levels:

  1. A profession of faith
  2. A commitment to the Lordship of Christ
  3. A commitment to the Biblical Order of Marriage
  4. A commitment to Biblical Problem Solving[4]

These are not addressed in the other assessments.

The goals in biblical premarital counseling should include understanding, application, and preparation.  First, counseling before marriage helps a couple understand what a godly biblical relationship and home consists.  When a couple comes together for marriage, there needs to be a scriptural understanding of purpose, roles, attitudes, etc., in order to lay a proper foundation for the relationship.  Secondly, the counseling of a couple is to help them see areas of change, potential dangers or threats to their marriage and practical biblical solutions to enable them to grow in these areas.  And thirdly, premarital counseling should then provide helps for the couple to glorify God, enjoy his blessing, and follow his ways.

In summary, I believe that Three to Get Ready provides a more thorough biblical approach to marriage without neglecting the objective relational and communication assessment offered in Prepare/Enrich and Ready and Relate.  One large difference between Ready and Relate and the other two is the option to self-assess.  I believe objective and honest feedback and counsel is essential when helping a couple prepare for marriage.  There is often too much subjectivity to address such issues in isolation.  Secondly, I recommend the explicit biblical teaching of Three to Get Ready.  While a skilled biblical pastor, counselor, or lay counselor can insert the scriptural foundations, I prefer that they be an integral part of the training.

[1] “About Ready Questionnaire”.  Relate Institute.  n. d. Web.   March 12, 2012

[2] “About Relate Questionnaire”.  Relate Institute.  n. d. Web.   March 12, 2012

[3] David H. Olson & Amy Olson-Sigg.  “Just the Facts  Marriage and Family Facts—2007”: Marriage CoMission  March 27, 2012,  Referencing:   Stanley, S.M., Amato, P.R., Johnson, C.A., & Markman, H.J. (2006). Premarital education, marital quality, an marital stability: Findings from a large, random household survey. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 1, 117-126. Carroll, J.S. & Doherty, W.J. (2003). Evaluating the effectiveness of premarital prevention programs: A meta-analytic review of outcome research. Family Relations, 52, 105-118. and Olson, D.H., & Olson, A.K. (2000). Empowering couples: Building on your strengths. Minneapolis, MN: Life Innovations.

[4] Howard Eyrich Three to Get Ready (Focus Publishing Inc.: Bemidji, Minnesota 1987, 2005)

Three To Get Ready

Three to Get Ready

Pre-Marital Counseling
Buy Now

Pre-Marital Blog

Click here to read Dr. Eyrich's Pre-Marital blog.

Read More >
Three To Get Ready

Three to Go

Bible Marriage Counseling
Buy Now

Marriage Blog

Click here to read Dr. Eyrich's Marriage blog.

Read More >