You know that feeling of shoes that are just a little too tight?  They rub a little on your little toe, and it's rather uncomfortable, but you can convince yourself that it's "not a big deal" and go about your day.

For a few hours it isn't a big deal.  But after a while, it feels like there's a stone in your shoe, and you realize that a blister is forming.  An hour or two later, the "stone" pops, and it moves from being an annoyance to something that makes you walk funny cuz the rawness of exposed area chafes painfully inside the shoe with every step. Those too-tight shoes could use a "bunion stretcher" that would push out the leather in just that spot above your little toe.

I've spoken to people from different cultures who've said that when a couple experiences speed bump on the road of marriage, there is a designated person who is known to be wise and helpful that they are expected to go talk to. A hundred years ago that may have happened when a younger woman would walk over to the neighbors to ask to borrow a cup of sugar and the neighbor woman would have noticed her quietness, or one neighbor goes to help another neighbor while his cow is in difficult labor and as they sit for hours waiting to help, one gives the other some valuable perspective on how to love his wife. These people all served as resources, sort of a like a bunion-stretcher-equivalent for marriage...helping a couple to loosen the tight spots to improve the fit, and help to make the marriage more comfortable.

There aren't a lot of "bunion stretcher" equivalents for marriage in our fast paced urban Winnipeg culture. For many who don't have family and are newer to the city, there may no one to talk to when there is a hiccup in their marriage.

Many people do not want to go to marriage counselling because it is seen as an admission of failure...acknowledging that you couldn't handle it on your own. 

As a person who asks someone to cut my hair and another to fill cavities in my teeth, someone to fix my leaky basement pipe, and someone else to change the oil on my vehicle, I find it quite acceptable to ask for help when the expertise required is beyond my competency level. It's OK to ask for help.

Marriage Inventory

Some might even suggest that it is a great idea to go to a marriage counsellor a couple of times early in the marriage--find someone who is local in the community who looks like they'll be around a while.  And use that person rather like your local mechanic.  Be quite comfortable in getting to know that person before a crisis hits.  Use a marriage inventory (we use the "ENRICH" tool which has a $50.00 fee) to get a basic idea of where your relationship is at, and to practice working together to make a good relationship great.  Then, when there is the job promotion and suddenly one of you is working a lot more hours, or a baby is born, or a parent dies, and tensions start to rise, it is "no big deal" to go to the  marriage counsellor and get things ironed out before it gets really bad.

I've worked with too many couples who have left the shoe on so that the blister is so infected that marriage counselling is the last stop on the way to the scheduled amputation.  It's lousy when help is sought only when the only thing in common between a couple is their mailing address.

Consider marriage counselling as a pre-emptive measure that could save your marriage from trouble you will never have to experience.

Think of couple counselling as an oil change/safety point inspection for your marriage!