20 Signs You May Need Marriage Counseling

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couple at marriage counseling

It’s crazy how we have a tendency to put off the very things that can bring us the most relief. Once we start doing those things, we often feel so much better. The same goes for marriage counseling, no matter how many reasons you know are waving bright red flags in front of you.

Does marriage counseling work?

A review of the most up-to-date research on the effectiveness of marriage counseling found that "couple therapy positively impacts 70% of couples receiving treatment."

Leading expert Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW, says the likelihood marriage counseling will be effective is related directly to two key factors: "the motivation level of both partners and timing," while couples therapist and researcher John Gottman has found that couples wait for an average of six years after the onset of marital problems before finally seeking counseling.

Given that the divorce rate in America has dropped from the foreboding 50% to a more optimistic 39%, there's certainly reason to believe marriage counseling has the potential to help save a rocky marriage.

There are many reasons to seek marriage counseling, but it can be hard to see the signs that it's time to go — especially at first. That's normal, don't worry. It's also why I'm here to help with the list of reasons couples therapy may help you below.

RELATED: 5 Tips For How To Find The Right Marriage Counselor For You & Your Partner

Often we wait until something "bad" happens and only then seek out counseling, but there are lots of reasons to go to marriage counseling that is proactive. Before something really bad happens to your relationship or marriage, let me shine a light on some of the ways marriage counseling or therapy can help your relationship.

20 Reasons Your Relationship May Benefit From Marriage Counseling

1. So you can stop threatening to break up.

If one or both of you has threatened your relationship by suggesting a trial separation, breakup, or divorce, that's a big sign you need couples counseling.

Not only is this a big red flag, but making the threats can actually damage your relationship over time, and you need the skills provided by counseling to help you change this pattern.

2. To create a marriage based on honesty.

If you’re keeping secrets from your partner or you’re pretty sure your partner is keeping secrets from you, it's time to seek marriage counseling. This is a sign that your intimacy and trust are starting to crack.

Marriage counseling can help you clear the air between you and start fresh.

3. Because you dream of the old days when you could talk about anything and everything.

If you no longer tell each other everything — even if the things you aren't sharing aren't exactly secrets — then it's time to do a little work to re-establish the bond that makes you want to share everything.

4. So you can learn how to disagree, resolve your problems, and move forward.

If you find that you fight often, and never resolve anything, it's time to seek help from a marriage counselor.

Even happy, healthy relationships include fights. The difference between what you are doing in your relationship and what the healthiest couples do comes down to communication and resolution.

5. To help you rediscover physical intimacy.

Maybe you have mismatched libidos, or one or both of you have withdrawn from the romantic, spark-filled aspects of your marriage. No matter the cause, you can get back to a place where you're both satisfied.

6. Because you want to be a priority in your partner's life.

If one of you would rather be on social media — be it Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or TikTok — for hours than talking to your spouse, you've got a problem.

Working together, guided by a trained, neutral professional, can help you face whatever has you separated so you can be best friends once again.

7. You want help dealing with, and moving on from, infidelity.

If one of you has just admitted to cheating, you've got a rough road ahead of you. Yes, lots of couples are able to heal from infidelity, but it's never easy and sometimes requires a little outside support.

Even if you break up in the end, marriage counseling can help you heal yourself and separate in a healthy way.

8. To help you feel heard and understood.

Sometimes we get into bad patterns in our communication, and we almost never feel completely heard. If you're longing to be understood, it might be a good time to reach out for marriage counseling.

9. So you can remember why you married your spouse in the first place.

If you dread coming home after work, it's a big red flag that something is wrong. You're not going to be happy together every second of every day, but your marriage should feel like home — not like a prison sentence.

10. To find a spark in your relationship again.

Feeling like you're just roommates or business partners? It doesn't have to be that way.

RELATED: 6 Amazing Couples Therapy Exercises To Try At Home (Before You Head To The Marriage Counselor)

11. To rework your schedules so you can find time for one another again.

If you haven't had a date night in over 3 months, something is wrong. Even if it's just a walk alone together or sitting on the beach, you need that time.

The problem is, everyone else's priorities get in the way. A marriage counselor will help you sort through what matters and find a compromise so that date night can become a priority again.

When you no longer put your relationship first — even before the kids — your relationship will atrophy. But you can get it back!

12. So you can both get back into a "we" mindset.

Do you find yourself thinking of relationship "exit strategies"?

That's a big sign that you're no longer in a couple-first mentality. That's a big obstacle to your happiness together. But you can get back to thinking of "we" over "me". (And that will, in turn, help you be happy again).

13. To stop being so angry.

If you find yourself being angry at your partner much of the time, you probably feel like you will never be able to get over the growing resentments. But you can.

Everyone gets mad. This is totally normal and even healthy. But if one (or both) of you are acting on your angry impulses by doing things like shouting, slamming doors, or worse, it's time for immediate support.

Of course, if there is ever abuse, you absolutely must get safe first, and then talk to a professional. But as for the everyday types of expressions of anger that scare or intimidate one or both partners, seeking marriage therapy can help take the volume down and help you redirect your anger.

14. To stop being so jealous.

Do you have jealousy in your relationship that never gets resolved? Don't worry, it doesn't have to last forever, but you do need to nip that in the bud because jealousy can drive a serious wedge between the two of you.

15. So you can learn how to truly support one another.

Feeling like your partner doesn't have your back is incredibly unsettling. But not everyone knows how to be a good support system for life — even if they want to.

If you don’t feel emotionally protected by your partner, either when you’re alone, or when you’re around others, it's time to ask for a little advice from an expert.

16. To resolve issues causing you to fight about money.

Most (maybe all!) couples fight about money at some point, but you need to have a plan for how to handle these conflicts. Money is a touchy subject because having enough of it is a real survival issue. It's worth putting in the time with a marriage counselor to get on the same page about finances.

17. For the sake of your children.

Sometimes it feels like you're staying together for the kids and nothing else. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if it's just a temporary feeling. But only staying together for the kids is a good sign you need marriage counseling. If you can reconnect romantically, that's great.

If not, you need to have a plan for staying together in a healthy way so you can role model healthy relationships for your kids.

18. So you can feel you've done everything you could before deciding to get a divorce.

If you’re thinking about talking to a divorce lawyer, but you're not quite ready to throw in that metaphorical towel yet, marriage counseling is the perfect solution.

Give your relationship the best effort you've got, get the advice of a professional, and figure out how to proceed. You don't have to be married forever — but you also don't want to give up before you've tried everything.

19. So you can end things amicably if you do decide to divorce.

Not every marriage is going to last forever. Divorce is never easy, but you can spare yourself a lot of sadness and even trauma by learning how to break up well.

This is particularly important if you have children together. They need to see that their parents have things under control and still respect one another, even while their family goes through these changes.

It can save them from so much suffering when breakups are handled under the caring guidance of a marriage counselor.

20. To check-in and reaffirm your bond when everything is going great.

The other sixteen reasons to try marriage counseling are all valid — but you don't need to have any of them! Lots of healthy, happy couples schedule yearly or even monthly "check-in" appointments with a couples counselor just to make sure they're connecting and staying on track. And that is a great reason for marriage counseling, too.

Trust your gut and talk it over with your partner — especially if you can check off three or more of these statements as pertaining to you and your relationship.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to consider getting started in marriage counseling.

You owe it to yourself and your partner to get help and repair your relationship so that you can have a secure and happy future. Many of the happiest couples who've lasted the longest cite counseling as a major reason why they're still together!

RELATED: How To Convince Your Husband To Go To Couples Counseling

Dr. Lynda Spann is a relationship therapist and coach. For more information, visit her website.

This article was originally published at Lynda Spann, PhD. Reprinted with permission from the author.