There is the "should" that says that you should be able to solve your own problems without help. Here is the rationale: "If your relationship has enough tension and strain that help is needed, the relationship is not going to make it anyway, so why waste time and money with counseling?" The reality is that if you give up on your marriage without first trying to acquire the skills that your need to be happy in it, you lose. Everyone loses.

The "just give up" rationale goes along with a society that has found it more expedient to through away appliances that cost under $500 and just buy a new one. You don't know how to fix it. The time and energy you would spend in figuring out how to fix it or learning how to fix it, would not be the best investment.

Yet, you will seek help for other things that you don't have the knowledge or skill to repair. When the plumbing in your house breaks down, you don't sell the house or give it away. You call the plumber. You don't dispose of your car because the door handle falls off. Most people will seek medical help when they discover that a mole has changed shape, size, and color.

Most people do not get formal, positive training in how to be a "husband" or a "wife", yet expect themselves to be experts in these roles. And many couples enter into marriage with the emotional baggage of poor role models in their growing up years. Yet the expectation is that since they know that their parents were not the best examples of how to be happily married, that all they have to do, is to be different than them. This seems like a good solution.

But in reality, people taking this approach usually develop the same dynamics, but with superficial changes. Things look different on the surface, but the dynamics remain the same. Spouses find themselves accusing the partner of being just like his/her parent.

You can obtain a marriage license without any formal training in being married, but have to gain enough formal training and knowledge to pass a written and skills test to gain a driver's license. So when the stressors become overwhelming, when the couple drifts apart, when they have differing needs/goals/beliefs, when they cannot talk about anything without arguing, they still expect themselves to be able to solve these problems without gaining any additional skill necessary to do so. In fact, couples are bewildered when doing more of the same things that have caused the problem, do not work. They know that what they are doing is not working. Instead of learning to do something different, they give up.

Professional marriage therapists know what to do to assist couples in learning how to fix the problems in the relationship. Since you hire a plumber to help maintain your home, it is not unreasonable to hire a professional marriage counselor to help maintain or help fix the most important thing in your life-your marriage. Marital problems, like other problems in life, are not solved without a plan of action.

Author's Bio: 

Marriage takes work. There are many articles and other helpful resources on my website for your use. You may purchase and download "The Honey Jar", A Couple Communication tool, take a survey, sign up for my newsletter, or "Ask Peggy, Conversations with an LMFT". Go to

The information in this article (and on my website) is for educational/information purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment.

Dr. Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D., LADC, LMFT, Marriage/Family Therapist, Alcohol/Drug Counselor, Writer, Trainer, Consultant, provides professional counseling services in and around Stillwater, Oklahoma.