When Should I Seek Marriage Counseling? 10 Signs Your Relationship Needs Help

Whether you’re newlyweds or seasoned partners, your relationship will face its share of challenges. Marital bonds may fade as the novelty wears off and life throws curveballs for you to navigate. Keeping your bond strong takes conscious effort, empathy, and understanding. How you handle these challenges determines the nature and quality of your relationship.  Failing […]

Grow Therapy therapist Gregorio (Greg) Lozano III LPC By Greg Lozano, LPC

Updated on Jan 12, 2024

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Whether you’re newlyweds or seasoned partners, your relationship will face its share of challenges. Marital bonds may fade as the novelty wears off and life throws curveballs for you to navigate. Keeping your bond strong takes conscious effort, empathy, and understanding. How you handle these challenges determines the nature and quality of your relationship. 

Failing to nurture your marriage can cause rifts that  develop into full-blown cracks that could ruin your marriage. However, there are signs that appear along the way that signal your marriage is in trouble. Acting on these telltale signs and seeking professional help can help strengthen or even salvage your marriage.  

This article highlights 10 common signs of a rocky marriage that should galvanize you to seek professional marriage counseling. It’ll also explain how and why marital therapy works and why it’s worth considering if your relationship is in trouble.  

When to Seek Marriage Counseling

Contrary to popular belief, marriage counseling isn’t always reactive — you may seek professional advice at any stage, even before tying the knot. Seeing a marital therapist before getting into a committed relationship can improve your married life. Premarital counseling will likely equip you with the tools to help build a happy and healthy marriage. 

Most people usually wait until their marriages are on the rocks before turning to relationship counseling. Some wait too long, which often leads to divorce. Knowing what signs to look out for when your marriage is in trouble can help salvage and strengthen your marriage.  

Signs it Might Be Time for Marriage Counseling 

Conflict is a natural part of a committed, romantic relationship, as it’s unlikely for two people to agree on everything. However, the inability to resolve these differences amicably often sets the stage for marital distress. 

Here are 10 indicators that your marriage is in trouble and you should consider seeking marital therapy services: 

1. Unending and Escalating Arguments 

Frequent hostile interactions with a loved one breed misery and emotional distress. Arguments between married couples are exceedingly hurtful because when you’re open and vulnerable with someone, their responses cut deeper. While inevitable, arguments aren’t inherently bad for your relationship. It’s how you handle the conflict that matters. 

A repetitive loop of escalating arguments and defensiveness may indicate poor conflict-handling skills. Adults have relationship expectations that shape their behaviors. So, when arguing with your spouse, you may be reacting to something else. Couples therapy can help you address communication issues stemming from your past and help you have healthy arguments. 

2. Constant Feelings of Resentment

Resentment is a dangerous emotion that’ll silently strangle your relationship. This complex emotional response may sever the emotional connection with your spouse. Anger and bitterness are the primary emotions in resentment, but may also include disgust, contempt, and outrage.

Typically, resentment sets in if a spouse feels used, mistreated, neglected, or invisible in a relationship — any of which can make you justifiably angry. If the anger is left unresolved, it festers and morphs into resentment. You’re likely to feel resentful any time you relive the event that caused the hurt. 

3. Loss of Physical Intimacy

Physical intimacy includes affection, such as holding hands, kissing, and intimate conversation, which helps create a strong emotional bond between spouses. Declining physical intimacy could mean that you no longer have time to nurture your intimate connection or no longer find your partner sexually attractive. 

Lack of intimacy may create an emotional barrier and a communication breakdown. It may also lead to frustration, resentment, infidelity, or cause a lonely spouse to seek solace in substance abuse

4. Loss of Emotional Connection

Emotional connection is the bedrock of a healthy relationship. It provides safety and mutual support while making your spouse feel valued, which allows you to cultivate a deep and lasting bond. Emotional connection is a crucial predictor of relationship success. 

The lack of emotional connection may also lead to loneliness, disconnection, and dissatisfaction. It may plague your relationship with misunderstandings and conflicts that erode its quality and lead to a breakup. Women often highly value emotional connections and may call off a relationship if their spouse is emotionally unavailable. 

5. Constantly Fighting about Money 

Financial conflicts in marriage tend to be pervasive, recurrent, and often remain unsolved. Couples often clash about how to earn, spend, or save money for retirement. Money may trigger intense envy, anger, and anxiety in a relationship because it’s highly associated with power and freedom. 

If you’re constantly bickering over money, chances are you’re not fully aware of your relationship with money or how it shapes your thoughts and feelings. How you view and handle your finances typically traces back to your past experiences. Seeking therapy can help you become conscious of your spending behavior and develop financial empathy. 

6. Recurring, Unsolvable Issues

While all relationships have their fair share of issues, the type of problems you’re grappling with matters. Some problems are solvable, while others are perpetual and unsolvable. Perpetual problems result from fundamental differences in personalities, backgrounds, or upbringing.  

Left unsolved, perpetual problems mutate, and the conflict becomes gridlocked and may pave the way to emotional disengagement. Discussing a gridlocked issue triggers icy silence or painful exchanges. Therapeutic modalities such as the Gottman Method help you build the skills to resolve this sticky problem and save your relationship.  

7. Drifting Apart

Your relationship evolves and changes as you grow older. Your interests, values, and priorities will change through various life stages, which may affect relationship satisfaction. While some changes are positive and welcoming, others are difficult and unwelcome and may shake up your relationship

You may find some qualities you loved about your spouse irritating or realize you have different values and life goals. With life pulling you in different directions, you may drift away from your partner as you do your best to cope with the new changes. Tack on the everyday stressors of life, and the situation worsens. Seeking therapy can help you stem the damage and find ways to solve these issues. 

8. Broken Trust 

Trust embodies reliability and dependability in a relationship. Broken trust undermines the vital elements — such as emotional connection, intimacy, and security — that underpin a strong and healthy relationship. When you feel you can trust your partner, you’re comfortable being open and vulnerable, which allows you to form meaningful emotional bonds. 

A breach of trust can trigger feelings of insecurity and disrupt effective communication. It hampers conflict resolution while breeding jealousy and suspicion. Rebuilding trust is a demanding process that can benefit from marital therapy. The strain of rebuilding and the mental and emotional anguish of broken trust can ruin your marriage if not handled properly. 

9. Considering or Grappling with Infidelity 

Infidelity is a crushing betrayal where you’re in a committed romantic relationship. It’s also a leading cause of marriage fallouts. Typically, spouses contemplate or resort to cheating if underlying issues in the relationship leave them distressed or feeling unfulfilled. These issues could range from unmet emotional needs to communication breakdown to feelings of neglect or resentment. 

People often resort to or consider cheating if these issues are left unresolved for a long time. While cheating commonly refers to extramarital affairs, it also includes emotional betrayal, such as being secretive and hiding things from your spouse. While marital therapy can help a couple’s relationship survive infidelity, addressing the issues before they compound is better. 

10. Wildly Different Parenting Styles

Despite having the best intentions for their children, spouses often clash over parenting styles. One of you might be easygoing and accommodating while the other might be strict and unyielding. Such a divergence may be a constant source of marital distress and may take a toll on your marriage and mental wellness. 

Since parenting styles often reflect underlying beliefs, values, and experiences, you may clash with your spouse because you don’t quite understand their perspective. Conflicting parenting styles can be detrimental because they can cause potential behavioral challenges in your children. Seeking relationship therapy may help you find common ground and ensure your differences don’t negatively impact your relationship and mental well-being. 

How Marriage Counseling Helps 

Couples in rocky marriages often seem to have it out for each other, never taking the time to account for their contribution to the problems. A marriage and family therapist (LMFT) provides a safe space where couples can introspect, understand the root cause of their woes, and take corrective measures. 

Over a series of therapy sessions, a marital counselor allows couples to unburden themselves, recognize what the conflict is doing to their relationship, and encourages them to fix the problem. After identifying the issues plaguing a relationship, a couples therapist provides guidance and equips clients with the tools to improve their relationship. 

Relationship counseling helps resolve marital distress because marriage counselors are highly trained mental health professionals specializing in psychotherapy and family systems. They can diagnose and treat mental health illnesses in the context of marriage and relationships. 

A typical marriage counselor will have at least a master’s degree in psychology, which allows them to approach therapy holistically from a mental health and behavioral perspective while recognizing their role in causing marital distress.

Why Marriage Counseling Works 

Marriage counseling works. It’s a particularly effective form of therapy that employs a solution-focused approach to help couples repair their relationships. 

Marriage counselors are specially trained to explore relationship problems from individual and relational perspectives. As such, they can help individuals address personal issues within the broader context of how they relate to their partners. This unique approach gives marital therapists an edge over other counselors when working to repair rocky marriages.  

Marriage counselors use various therapeutic modalities to help their clients overcome relationship issues, including: 

The choice of approach will depend on the therapist’s expertise, the couple’s preference, and the nature of the issues being addressed. 

Marriage counselors near you

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Overcoming Barriers to Marriage Counseling

Unlike individual therapy, marital counseling requires couples to attend therapy jointly. Unfortunately, convincing a reluctant partner to start marriage counseling may be tricky, especially when you barely talk to each other. If you feel there’s hope for your relationship, but your partner is not receptive to the idea, you’ll need to be strategic

Never attempt to bully your spouse into submission, as they’ll not commit fully to therapy, which may derail progress. 

Strengthen Your Marriage with Professional Counseling

Seeking marriage counseling at the first hint of trouble can improve the quality of your relationship. Whether addressing existing challenges or enhancing your marital bonds, couples counseling provides the guidance and support to build healthier relationships. 

Counseling sessions offer a safe space to address issues that may be difficult to handle without professional input. It also heightens your ability to communicate with your spouse so you can resolve problems quickly and effectively. 

Grow Therapy can help you salvage or strengthen your relationship. Our platform helps you connect with licensed counselors and schedule an appointment online or in person within two days. 


  • Marriage counseling can provide tools and strategies to address underlying issues and improve communication, potentially reducing the risk of divorce.

  • Marriage counseling can be beneficial whether you're newlyweds, have been together for years, or are facing specific challenges like parenting.

  • You may sign up for online counseling sessions on dedicated platforms like Grow Therapy and connect with licensed marriage counselors in your state.

About the author
Grow Therapy therapist Gregorio (Greg) Lozano III LPC Greg Lozano, LPC

Greg Lozano is a licensed professional counselor who specializes in working with individuals with severe mental illnesses such as depressive, bipolar, schizophrenia, and substance abuse conditions.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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