When should we see a counselor about our marriage?

Too often, the decision to see a counselor about the struggles of marriage comes too late.  The passion has cooled, walls have been built up, wounds have become infected, bitterness has set in, and the couple has slowly drifted apart.  Attempts to save a marriage at the last moment are not doomed to failure, but going to counseling as a last ditch effort is often more about defending your own position than trying to work towards healing and growth.  

We live in a culture in which counseling is common, but we can still get sucked into the idea that counseling is for 'those people' and 'those marriages'.  Only really messed up marriage need the help of a counselor, and we're not there - at least not yet.   But here's the reality - every marriage has struggles.  Every marriage has problems.  Every marriage needs help.   And the best marriages I've seen are the ones in which the couples are the most intentional about growing the marriage together.   

One type of counseling I love is early marriage counseling.  This ranges from the occasional marital 'tune up' to walking through significant challenges in their life together.  Many young couples find the possibility of marriage counseling embarrassing (we've only been at this 3 years and we're already falling apart!).  There's also a reluctance to seek out help from others (we can figure this out on our own, only messed up marriages seek profession help, we'll turn out fine in the end, it's just a season, etc.).  But I've seen firsthand in other couples (and experienced first hand in my own marriage) - seeking out help is a good thing - it makes a difference.

When should you see a counselor about your marriage?  I don't know the answer for you, but I know that most couples tend to wait much too long to seek out good help.   My encouragement to young couples (and older ones!) is to err on the side of caution - seeking help before it's too late.  I'd  much rather see my doctor when I'm fighting a common cold than when I'm in bed dying of pneumonia.   In the same vein, I'd much rather see a counselor about marriage when problems are beginning to surface than when we're on the brink of divorce.  

For the sake of your marriage and your family - seek out good help.  It's worth it.