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“The course of true love never did run smooth.” Shakespeare’s shrewd 16th century observation on the bumpy nature of romantic relationships still rings true in this age of modern love.

Many young couples discover that while getting married is easy, staying married takes hard work. Communication, conflicts and children – these are just some of the challenges married couples encounter in the course of wedded life.

Marriage and divorce statistics revealed that nearly 60% of divorcing women in Singapore cited “unreasonable behaviour” of their spouse as the top reason for their uncoupling. Hence, couples should nip problems in the bud before they fester and grow.

The question is: when do you know it's time to consider marriage counseling? Here’re 5 warning signs to look out for so you’ll know when to get help.

1. When silence is not golden

Communication is the cornerstone of any marriage. It provides us the sense of connection that maintains a relationship. Much of marital discord stems from a breakdown in communication, which is why marriage counsellors usually zoom in on communication patterns between couples.

2. When the talk is negative

Words can do a lot of damage in a relationship. Marriage researchers have found that the best predictors of divorce involve hostile talk like criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. In contrast, stable marriages have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. In other words, it’s not just what you say but how you say it.

3. When you see your partner as a foe, not a friend

Being married means playing on the same team. But it’s easy to forget that as the years go by and little grievances pile up. If you find yourself fighting over the same trivial issues, bringing in an objective third party might help you look at them through a different lens. These little squabbles may be a sign of larger differences that needs to be resolved.

4. When you are living separate lives

If both of you are simply co-existing within the same household and your marriage is missing the hallmarks of intimacy and connection, it may be a sign to seek help. While some couples are fine with this status quo, you’ll be missing out on the many benefits of a thriving marriage.

5. When you keep secrets

While everyone has a right to privacy, it may not be healthy to keep big issues hidden from each other in a relationship. Money matters, parenting decisions or even work commitments that may affect your spouse should not be kept under wraps but openly discussed.

Tags: Communication /Growing your relationship