February 10, 2024

When to seek marriage counseling?

Happy couple

Relationships are hard, and having difficult times is a normal part of ever marriage. So it can be hard to know when you need to seek out marriage counseling. This article will cover some of the signs that it’s time to seek out marriage counseling. 


  • Signs that indicate the need for marriage counseling 
  • Benefits of marriage counseling 
  • Types of marriage counseling 
  • How to find a marriage counselor 
Selective Focus Photography Two Person Making Heart Hand Sign

Signs that indicate a need for marriage counseling 

1. Problems with Communication

I’m sure you have heard that communication is one of the most important aspects of couple relationship. When communication is not going well, couples experience more conflict, misunderstandings and hurt feelings. If not fixed, this can lead to more distance and eventually the end of the relationship. If you are finding that you are having communication problems and a lot of miscommunication, then it may be time to seek out marriage counseling. Marriage counseling can help you improve your communication by helping you and your partner share your thoughts and feelings in an effective way, as well as help you both improve your ability to really listen and hear each other. 

2. Lack of emotional and physical intimacy

Intimacy can be both emotional and physical, and both are important for a marriage. Without emotional and physical intimacy, couples feel disconnected, and like roommates. Marriage counseling can help couples find a way to reconnect both emotionally and physically. 

3. Infidelity

Infidelity, whether it is an affair or pornography use, can destroy the trust and emotional safety of a relationship. Marriage counseling can help couples decide whether or not to stay together. If couple do stay together, then marriage counseling can help them understand what made their relationship vulnerable to infidelity and create a plan to safeguard against infidelity in the future. Marriage counseling can also help couples heal from the pan of betrayal and repair the broken trust.  

4. Constant fighting

If you are noticing that you are your partner are constantly fighting, then this is a sign that it may be time to seek out marriage counseling. Constant fights and arguing is draining to both partners and over time can damage the relationship. This may a sign that a couple is not able to resolve conflict on their own and may need the help of a marriage counselor to learn how to communicate and resolve conflict in a more effective way. 

5. Money problems

Money problems are one of the most common sources of conflict for couples and one of the top three reasons couples get divorced. Conflicts happen most often when each partner has a different approach to managing money. This can cause tension when you both manage money in different ways. Marriage counseling can help you discuss money in a neutral, less stressful environment so you can get on the same page with your money management. Sometimes this may involve creating a budget together, getting on the same page with financial goals and priorities, or even just improving communication and transparency around money related topics. 

6. Disagreements in Parenting

Parenting is another common conflict point for couples and a top reason for divorce. Couples often have differing ideas on how to parent and manage discipline, which can fights and arguments. Marriage counseling can help you discuss parenting concerns in a neutral, less stressful environment so you can get on the same page with a parenting plan. 

7. Substance abuse

Substance use can cause significant challenges for couple relationships, especially when the level of substance abuse is severe. Substance abuse tends to increase vulnerability to negative fights and even intimate partner violence. If one partner has an addiction, this can severely impact both partners. While an individual with an addiction will need individual counseling, marriage counseling can also be beneficial to help couples address the impact of the addiction on the marriage and be on the same page with an addiction recovery plan. 

8. Mental health issues

Mental health issues can have a big impact on a marriage relationship and put strain and tension on the partner. Marriage counseling, and specifically Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, has been shown to be an effective treatment for couples to develop strategies together to manage mental health challenges. Not only does the couple relationship improve, but research has also indicated that decreases in depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms are common outcomes of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

9. Sexual problems

Sex is another common challenge that faces many couples–especially because it is common for partners to have different level of desire for sex. Other sexual concerns can include lack of sexual desire, problems with pain during sex, problems with arousal or orgasm, and anxiety around sex. Because sex is such an important part of a marriage and because many people have a lot of insecurities around sex, sexual problems can create a lot of conflict and tension. Marriage counseling can help couple address sexual problems in order to have a more fulfilling sexual relationship. 

​10. Loss of trust

Most people think of loss of trust in relationship to infidelity, but loss of trust can happen outside of betrayals as well. Part of what is needed for trust is predictability, consistency, and transparency. So whether it is cause by infidelity, substance use, mental health problem, secrets, or something else, a loss of trust is a sign that it may be time to seek out marriage counseling. Marriage counseling can help couples take the steps needed to rebuild the trust in their relationship. 

couple hugging

Benefits of marriage counseling

Marriage counseling can help with the above problems and even help prevent future problems. Marriage counseling is great for helping couples:

  • improve communication,
  • rebuild trust,
  • recover and heal from infidelity,
  • manage personality differences,
  • naviagte different parenting styles,
  • and learn better problem solving skills.

It can also help couples understand and address any underlying problems that made them vulnerable to  problem in the first place. By working with a marriage counselor, couples can strengthen their relationship, build a healthy relationship foundation, and develop new skills to be able to better approach problems or difference in the future. Learn more about the benefits of marriage counseling here

Types of marriage counseling

There are many ways to do marriage counseling. Ideally, both you and your partner would go to either in person or online marriage counseling with a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist or with a Certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist.  Most of the time with will look like weekly counseling sessions, but it would also be done in an intensive retreat format.  

However, there are times where one person is not willing to go o marriage counseling.If you partner is not willing to go to marriage counseling, see if they might be willing to go to an education couples workshop. If they are still not willing to participate, then individual counseling with a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist can still be helpful for navigating relationship challenges. (Learn more about the most common types of marriage counseling here.)

Couple in Love Outdoors

How to find a marriage counselor

There are many ways to find a marriage counselor. You can ask friends and family if they know of anyone they would recommend, or you could ask your individual therapist or medical provider if they know of someone who specializes in marriage counseling. Ultimately you do want someone who specializes in marriage counseling and isn’t just a generalist counselor.  (Learn more about how to find a marriage counselor here). 

Two ways to find a therapist specializing in marriage counseling include doing a google search or therapist directory serach for a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in your area. Or you can look for a therapist who is  a Certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist.  

Once you find some options for marriage counseling, make sure to do a consult with them to makes sure it feels like a good fit for both you and your partner. 

Looking to start Marriage Counseling?

Elizabeth Polinsky Counseling provides online Emotionally Focused Couples Counseling, as well as weekend-long Marriage Intensives, throughout the states of Virginia, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada. Click the button below to schedule a complimentary consult. 

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    About Author

    Elizabeth Polinsky is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist (EFT) providing EFT marriage counseling in the states of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada. She also provides EFT training and supervision to therapists looking to become certified in EFT Couple Therapy. As a military spouse, she has a special passion for working with military and veteran couples, and is also the host of The Communicate & Connect Podcast for Military Relationships.


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