When you hear the words, "marriage counseling" what comes to mind? Do you have positive or negative thoughts about it?

I polled some of my friends on Facebook to see what others thought about these two words. Some had negative thoughts about it, but most were positive and I was very surprised and happy by what I read. Here are some the answers I received:

Negative Thoughts

  • "Divorce court." - Renee

  • "An ending." - Nikki

Positive Thoughts

  • "Working out small or large problems." - Briana

  • "People who need help with communication and understanding each other in a relationship." - Jane

  • "Restoration, hope, and vulnerability." - Susan

  • "That the marriage is worth fighting for and when one spouse or both bring it up, it means they care enough to want to stay together." - Christina

  • "Self care." - Aprille

  • "Tough conversations that can save a marriage." - Kristi

There is a stigma attached to the words "marriage counseling." Most people think that it's only necessary when there is a problem in the marriage or as a last resort before divorce. I'd like to propose a different line of thought: I think everycouple needs and deserves to go to marriage counseling. Here's why:

Every Couple Should Go to Marriage Counseling Because"

1. Every Couple Needs it

You may not realize it yet, but your marriage needs counseling. Every marriage does. Marriage counseling isn't just for those whose marriages are on the verge of ending, but for anyone who wants to strengthen and protect their marriage, help it last longer and grow.

2. Pre-marital Counseling is not Enough

Pre-marital counseling can sometimes be a requirement before a minister will marry you. My husband and I both went to pre-marital counseling and it was good, but why stop there? Why only go to counseling before you get married, but not continue it throughout your marriage?

Pre-marital counseling it not enough. All couples need someone to check in on them to see how they are doing, to be a go-between, a mediator, an advocate, and an encourager. It should be with someone who knows the couple well and has followed them along their journey. This is what marriage counseling is about.

3. Good Communication is Important

Communication is one of the most important aspects of marriage. If you don't have good communication, then things tend to get blown out of proportion and arguments break out. A marriage counselor can help you navigate communication and teach you both how to communicate with each other better.

Communication is one of the big things my husband and I worked on when we went to marriage counseling. I didn't realize how different we really were until I saw how differently we both communicate things and that we both needed to be more understanding of that. Learning better communication changed our marriage in a big way.

4. Every Relationship Needs Maintenance

I like the example my friend Katie gave me. She likened marriage to a car:

"Let's say you buy a brand new car and it's beautiful and shiny and new. You love driving it around and you love bragging about it. But then as time goes on it hits some bumps in the road, has a fender bender and some accidents. None of those may have been a choice, they probably just happened, but you have to fix all of those things and you have to do routine maintenance too. You have to change the oil, check the brakes, and get the car filled with gas.

When you start out in marriage you have this bright, shiny, new relationship. Everything is new and perfect and wonderful. After the big day, you have a journey that you are on together. It's not about it being shiny and bright, it's about being real and having to stick together to maintain your relationship.

Some believe there is negative connotation about maintaining your relationship. It can be made to sound like you are just doing the bare minimum, but really this is the foundation of your marriage. You have to make sure you both check in with each other, check on your schedules, your faith, and where you are in your individual journey as people, as parents and as a married couple. That's what maintenance is all about."

5. It Helps Keep Your Marriage Strong

Like I said above, marriage counseling can help strengthen your communication. But that's not the only thing it's good for. It can strengthen you both as a couple and it can strengthen you both as individuals. When you go to marriage counseling and you sit there, you learn how to make your relationship better in every way. You are strengthening your relationship. When you go home and you put these things into practice, you are strengthening you relationship. When you walk out of there and are done, you are both stronger for it. My husband and I went to marriage counseling during one of the toughest parts of our lives. Our daughter has been in and out of hospitals numerous times, our son had autism and it was a very stressful time. But each time we came out of those sessions, I felt stronger. Our bond was stronger, our marriage was stronger, our communication was stronger. We put those things into practice and I still rely on them today.

6. It Helps You Work Out Problems Before They Start

You may not have any marital problems, but maybe there are a few things you just need a third unbiased opinion on. Seeing a counselor can help you find and solve issues before they become big problems. Taking care of these things can save you a lot of time and heartache and is a big part of the "maintenance" part of marriage.

A lot of times couples don't even realize that there is a problem. Maybe one spouse is angry or bitter about something, but is keeping it to themselves. Or maybe there is something that's been a problem and no one wanted to bring it up. Having a counselor as a mediator can help, and having that different point of view and perspective on your marriage is invaluable.

7. Every Relationship Deserves the Best

Your marriage deserves the best! It is a symbol of love and all your hopes and dreams. Don't you think that something like that deserves it's best chance? That's what marriage counseling does. It keeps your relationship at its best because you deserve the best. No one should have to settle for anything less.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on Kathryn Sneed's blog, Singing Through the Rain. it has been republished here with permission.

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