Mar 112013 53 Responses

13 Questions To Gauge If You Need Marriage Counseling

As a pastor, I see myself as a triage nurse for marriages. My office is often the Emergency Room for couples who worry they might have a relationship-threatening condition. I am not a counselor. I do not do marriage counseling. I can evaluate the situation and recommend the proper course of action.

Some people worry they are seriously ill, but I have the ability to reassure them they are on the right track. Problems which seem unique to one person can actually be universal to every couple. I can assess and send them home with no treatment.

Other people worry they are seriously ill, and they are. The affair is revealed; the addiction surfaces; years of ignoring the relationship becomes evident. I assess and refer to a professional.

Here are 13 questions I use to determine if someone needs marriage counseling. The list is not exhaustive, but is a beginning tool to consider if someone can benefit from working with a professional. (See: What to Do If Your Spouse Refuses Counseling)

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, I would highly recommend consulting a marriage counselor.

1. Do you worry your marriage is headed in the wrong direction?

2. Is there a significant secret which you have not told your spouse?

3. Do you feel disrespected by your spouse?

4. Are you unable to discuss your concerns or feelings?

5. Is there a destructive behavior by you or your spouse which could destroy your relationship?

6. Do you feel there is an aspect of you or your spouse’s life which you do not share?

7. Is there an unusual new stressor in your marriage (i.e. grief, child with special needs, sickness, etc)?

8. Is there a significant issue to which you cannot find a workable solution?

9. Do you sense you and your spouse are growing apart or living parallel lives?

10. Does either partner ever get emotionally or physically out of control?

11. Do you find yourself thinking regularly about someone else?

12. Do you experience the same conflict over and over without resolution?

13. Do you think with some effort your marriage could be better?

Answering “yes” to any of the above questions is not a sign your marriage is irreparable.

Answering “yes” to any of the questions and ignoring your answer, refusing to get help is a sign of great danger.

Any of the issues listed above can bring down a marriage if the couple foolishly refuses to do the work necessary. Any of the issues listed above can be resolved if a couple wisely recognizes the danger and willfully does what is necessary to heal.

When I think about marriage counseling, there is one Biblical passage which comes to mind. Matthew 7.13–14:

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Whenever we face problems in marriage, the easy thing to do, the popular thing to do, is to do nothing. That is the wide gate. It’s easy to ignore issues in hopes they will go way. However, ignoring something is easy now, but it will be more difficult later. Humbling ourselves, seeking help, exploring the fault lines in our relationships is a difficult process, few choose it. Yet if we do the hard work now, it will lead to better relationships and an easier life.

What is hard now becomes easy. What is easy now becomes hard.

Read the questions. Discuss them with your spouse. Do the work necessary to have a healthy marriage.

If you could add a 14th  question, what would it be?



53 Responses to 13 Questions To Gauge If You Need Marriage Counseling
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