SYMBIS (Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts) Premarital Counseling

Premarital Counseling - Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts

Are you looking for premarital counseling? Do you want to strengthen and deepen your marriage before it ever starts? Premarital coaching is a great options for couples seeking premarital counseling who want to get ahead of the issues that naturally arise in marriage.

What is SYMBIS for Marriage, and Why is it Important for Premarital Counseling?

SYMBIS stands for “Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts”.  It is an evidenced based premarital counseling tool developed by authors and therapists Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott. Marybeth Steigenga, PhD is an ordained minister of pastoral care; she is a board certified pastoral counselor and has a doctorate degree in Christian Counseling. Learn more about Marybeth.

What is SYMBIS?

SYMBIS is an online tool that allows engaged or newly married couples (or even couples who have been married for a while!) to log in individually and take an assessment.  The assessment has many questions about personality, upbringing, attitudes towards money, sex, and much, much more.  It then creates a report with the results. Marybeth will receive the results and set up 2-4 sessions to go over any strengths, weaknesses, or caution flags that the assessment tool identifies. Together, you and Marybeth will talk about areas of individual growth or improvement that each person needs to work. 

Why is SYMBIS important?

Marybeth loves the idea of SYMBIS because we live in a world where the divorce rate is over 50% (and 67% for second marriages). She believes it’s extremely important to invest in your marriage before it starts. SYMBIS is also beneficial for second marriages with an additional assessment built-in if that is your situation.

3 Key Benefits of the SYMBIS Assessment:

You are setting a firm foundation.

Think of your marriage as a house. To ensure the house is safe, you must lay down a strong foundation. To lay strong foundation, you must dig deep first. If you miss this step, what you thought was once a secure home, could quite possibly collapse. The same goes for your relationship. The SYMBIS assessment is a tool that lays the foundation. It helps you dig deep and discuss potentially tough subjects in a way that will ultimately increase intimacy, connection and understanding.

You will enter your marriage without the blinders.

About 76 % of married couples wish they had pre-marriage education. This is because you can’t always see the person, you’re with for who they really are. Sometimes we love someone so much, that we ignore important details that could negatively affect our marriage. With the SYMBIS assessment, these things can be brought to light. You will get a clear picture of your personal and relational momentum for marriage.

SYMBIS gives you a roadmap to your partner.

This is not the roadmap that you spread across your dashboard and miss the exit anyway, after finally figuring out where you are. This roadmap allows both of you to gain insight into each other’s personalities and how they work together. The SYMBIS will help you learn to embrace your partner’s unique view of life and give you skills to strengthen your relationship for lifelong love.

What to Expect

Premarital Counseling with Marybeth Steigenga at Joshua Tree Counseling

Marybeth was chose pastoral counseling so she was not limited in her ability to bring Jesus into the process of soul care counseling. She is a strong, mature Christian believer who has been married for over 25 years. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  Premarital counseling with Marybeth is based on a Christian, Biblical perspective. 

SYMBIS counseling initially covers individual similarities and differences.  It explores your individual mindsets as it pertains to marriage.  Some people have a very resolute mindset, meaning they marry for life and do not believe in divorce.  Others may have more of a romantic mindset, meaning they believe in soulmates and happily ever after’s. Others may have a more rational mindset, which means they approach marriage logically and believe it is hard work.  There are also a few other mindsets that an individual could possibly have.  Your mindset towards marriage is important because it sets the tone for expectations moving forward.

Emotional Well-Being

SYMBIS also explores everyone’s emotional well-being.  It’s important to address any baggage that each person may bring into the marriage.  The SYMBIS tool can detect childhood issues, mental health issues, and other issues between the couple.  It allows space for discussion about how these issues will impact the marriage long-term.

Family of Origin or In-Laws

SYMBIS will assess for any conflict within family of origin or in-law situations.  It allows each person to process and discuss the importance of social support.  It identifies any future conflict that may happen when you blend two people from two different backgrounds.

Financial Attitudes

One of my favorite parts about SYMBIS is the financial assessment.  The tool can identify everyone’s attitude towards money and finance.  One of the big questions is, are you a saver or a spender?  Typically, in a marriage, there is one of each.  This can obviously create some conflict.  The SYMBIS assessment goes over debt, security, and allows the couple to discuss their financial dreams and goals.

Individual Expectations

SYMBIS also assesses for individual expectations as far as household duties are concerned.  It discusses who was responsible in each person’s family of origin, and what they expect in their own marriage.  It’s interesting to see that many couples have not discussed this aspect of marriage, which often can create a lot of disagreements and conflict.

If this is the second marriage for either person, SYMBIS has an additional assessment for remarriage readiness.  It allows for discussion about blending a family and what concerns everyone has.  It also assesses for the attitude towards remarriage and identifies any baggage you may be carrying from your first marriage.

Personality Types

There are 8 types of personality types when you become a spouse: Achieving, Pioneering, Energizing, Affirming, Cooperating, Unwavering, Deliberating, and Analyzing.  SYMBIS assesses which personality each spouse fits and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each personality type.  It also provides information as to how the different personality types interact with one another.  An individual’s personality type impacts many things, including how you both show and receive love.

Sexual Issues

Personality types also impact how you view intimacy and sex.  SYMBIS can decipher any sexual issues that may occur.  A couple’s attitude towards sex and each of their individual expectations are incredibly important topics to process before marriage.  The assessment tool is powerful in helping couples prepare for a life of intimacy together.


SYMBIS can also predict resiliency in each individual person.  It encourages couples to discuss how they individually approach challenges and identifies potential problem areas.  This allows the couple to focus on what each of them individually brings to the relationship in terms of resiliency.  It also identifies problems areas for everyone when they are under stress.


The assessment really shines a light on communication styles, and how those styles impact conflict.  The report has examples of what everyone does well as far as communication goes, and what they also need to work on.  It identifies “hot spots”—certain topics that may be high conflict based on the information the couple provided.  These “hot spots” can be sex, money, communication, children, chores, etc.

Gender Roles

SYMBIS discusses the gender roles, and how that can play into emotional needs being different.  It gives tips to each spouse to encourage them to connect emotionally in the way their partner prefers.  It gives a glimpse into how meeting your spouse’s needs can be talked about in a constructive way.

Faith and Spirituality

Finally, the SYMBIS assessment also integrates faith and spirituality if that is something important to the couple.  It allows couples to identify what aspects of faith are important for each of them and creates discussion as to how to integrate those.  It helps couples understand how their needs and personalities also contribute to spiritual practices within marriage.