Every marriage experiences ups and downs, but how do you know when the "downs" require counselling? Here are three scenarios in which we believe marriage counselling can be valuable:

In crisis

An unexpected crisis has the potential to seriously damage your marriage. This might be something like the loss of a child, a health crisis, unemployment or infidelity. At times like this, you may find it very difficult to navigate the usual demands of life with the extra stresses that the crisis brings to bear. Even if the issue is not directly connected to your marriage, your relationship may suffer due to the problem you are trying to get through. This would be a very good time to see a marriage counsellor who can help you look for ways to keep your marriage strong in the midst of trial.

Chronic challenges

Chronic challenges that deeply impact marriages may include issues such as addictions, abuse, and long-term mental or physical health issues. I would also put into this category ongoing poor communication that leads to chronic conflict. When these issues persist, they run the great risk of bleeding your relationship dry. One or both partners may eventually feel they have nothing left to give. Marriage counselling can help. You can examine the patterns that threaten your relationship with someone trained to offer you better tools to cope with the issues. The counsellor can also help you explore options for making good decisions about what is best for each of you and your relationship.


Finally, even a healthy marriage can benefit from an occasional check-up to help a couple honestly evaluate how both are feeling about their marriage. Some couples see a counsellor annually, inviting them to ask meaningful questions to help them reflect on how their relationship is growing, places where they have work to do or just to confirm that they are doing well. If there is underlying tension one person has been concealing, this may be an opportunity for it to be revealed safely. Unfortunately, we often get calls from people who tell us they thought they had a perfectly fine marriage until one day their spouse announces they were done and want a divorce. Proactive care such as a check-up might have allowed the frustration that led to this decision to be communicated and dealt with much sooner.

A healthy marriage requires intentional investment. Take time to invest in each other and in relationships outside your marriage that will strengthen your marriage: friends, mentors, pastors and, when you need it, marriage counsellors.

If you would like to speak with one of our counselling team about how marriage counselling could help you or find a referral counsellor near you, please call us at 1.800.661.9800 and ask for the Care Associate.

Wendy Kittlitz is vice-president of counselling and care ministries at Focus on the Family Canada.

© 2016 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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