Marriage life is sometimes challenging. Just like that new set of dishes that eventually gets scratches from regular use, unions are likely to show wear and tear in a couple of years. With marriage rates declining and half of first marriages ending up in divorce, couples therapy is fast becoming an important means of dealing with rough patches and other serious events affecting marriages.

If you are wondering when is couples therapy right for you, here are five signs to help you decide.

1.) Marriage and family therapists urge couples to seek professional services when they are not able to communicate with each other. One sign of negative communication is when it becomes too frightening to bring up problems – from money to sex and annoying little habits blown out of proportion. Negative communication leads one of the partners to feeling disregarded, insecure, and depressed. The therapist’s job is to help a couple talk about their problems and help them understand what the underlying issues are.

2.) When one or both partners are contemplating having an affair, it is an indicator to seek professional therapy. Recovery from affairs requires hard work, but it is not impossible. The couple has to be willing to move forward after forgiving and making a commitment to improve the relationship. When a couple is committed through the healing process and is honest, marriage can be salvaged. At the very least, therapy will also help determine if it is healthier for both partners to part ways.

3.) When a couple is in a relationship for the sake of the children, it is time to involve an objective third party. Couples thinking that they are doing the “right thing” by staying together are actually creating an unfavorable environment for their children. Such couples can be able to resolve the issues and move towards creating healthy, positive relationships finally making the best decisions for all involved. Children are not only intelligent, but also intuitive. No matter how hard a couple can fake happiness, most children can spot a lie a mile away.

4.) With time, bottled up emotions like disappointment or resentment eventually come to the surface. Such negative feelings usually lead to hurtful and sometimes harmful behaviors. For example, a wife hurt by her husband’s indiscretions might agree to stay in the relationship without ever voicing her feelings. Eventually she becomes spiteful, doing things on purpose to make her husband think she is unfaithful, when she is not. She does this in an effort to make her husband feel the same pain she feels. A couples therapist can help the couple sort through the negative feelings and find healthier ways of expressing them.

5.) Disagreement over money is one of the top reasons why couples find themselves in uncomfortable relationships. If a spouse keeps his or her significant other in the dark about matters pertaining to family finances, it is time to speak up. People in a relationship need to realize that their partners should be aware of debt, monthly bills, balance on mortgages, number of checking /savings accounts, and other financial matters. When one spouse objects to such thought, it is time to talk to a couples therapist.

Whether a couple decides to seek help or continue down the current path – it is crucial that they realize counseling does not hold couples together or even break them up. Couples therapy is all about helping a couple to communicate better and understand what has been going on in their marriage.