“Conflict in relationships is normal, so how do I know if marriage counseling might help us?” You may feel like marriage counseling seems too drastic for the need you’re currently managing. Maybe you’ve only known people to pursue marriage counseling when they’re “really in trouble” and that’s not you! You guys are doing okay, but for some reason, it’s crossing your mind. That’s okay! Counseling can be helpful to prevent further issues rather than only to solve issues that have already come up. I’m impressed that you’re asking this question in the first place!
It’s never too early or too late to pursue marriage counseling
Yes, sometimes people are going to be in counseling for more obvious issues like infidelity. However, coming to counseling before that point can be really helpful. You may be preventing more serious issues in the future. And on the other hand, if you are facing something that feels like a marriage-ending issue, it does not have to be too late. There are many factors that affect positive outcomes in marriage counseling. In my experience, one of the most significant factors is whether the goals of both parties is to remain married. If that is the goal, incredible struggles can be overcome.
Feeling unable to solve it on your own, or feeling “stuck”
You may not be able to put your finger on exactly what doesn’t seem to work, but you and/ or your partner are feeling unable to solve it on your own. One of you may have begun to avoid interactions or feel regularly defensive because of this. That is an excellent time to consider whether you coud use some outside help. Ask yourself, “are you currently just managing the issue you’re facing, or are you able to make progress?” A marriage counselor can help everyone in the relationship identify their needs, wants and in many cases, current hurts- or what isn’t working.
There’s a reason this isn’t titled, “The Top 5 reasons you might want to pursue marriage counseling.” Every relationship is different and has different needs. The reason that may get one couple into counseling may not be true for everyone. So if you find yourself stuck on an issue that isn’t difficult for your friends, who were able to work out that issue (finances, kids, graduate school, sex) that’s okay! No, there isn’t anything wrong with you, and yes, it sounds like marriage counseling could be helpful.
If you find yourself fighting all of the time, it may feel like you just had 10 fights, but in many cases, they are all a variation of the same 2-3 arguments. If it feels like you and your partner are stuck in a pattern of the same fights (and again, I’m using that word “stuck”) it may be helpful to have a third party in the room who can offer some guidance. If it feels like whatever the fights are, you’re unable to stop having that fight on your own, the same thing applies.
The challenge you’re facing may be more “niche”
Many couples pursue counseling when considering having kids or facing complicated questions like adoption. Many couples pursue counseling to identify strategies around managing their extended families. If you’re asking whether there could be a need, feel free to ask. Have one session or call with the issue you’re facing and ask if counseling is the recommendation.
If there is any violence in the home, please, make sure all family members are safe and seek counseling.