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Ask our Healthcare Professionals...

When should we see a counselor vs marriage enrichment?

There is much overlap between professional marriage counseling and marriage enrichment avenues, as counseling can be a form of enrichment. To make a clearer distinction, let’s compare enrichment with counseling that would be required for a troubled marriage. If a couple is experiencing any of these seven red flags, their

marriage would benefit more from professional counseling than just marriage enrichment.


World renown marriage expert, John Gottman, gives us four of these red flags, which he calls The Four Horsemen: Criticism (versus constructive critique), Contempt (belittling attack of character and intention), Defensiveness, and Stonewalling (refusing to process struggles). While every marriage slips into these unhealthy responses, a troubled marriage needing counseling is when these become defining of the daily interactions.


Other marriage experts add at least these three additional red flags. A Lack of Touch: Not just sexual, but a complete absence of tender touch or felt intimacy. Abusive or Controlling Behavior: Not just physical abuse, but verbal, emotional, or spiritual abuse, any extreme controlling behaviors, or either spouse engaging in an emotional or sexual affair. Addictions or Unresolved Trauma: Any life-controlling addictions such food, substances, or porn, etc. or unresolved trauma or identity-defining woundedness or shame.


Every marriage can benefit from annual enrichment activity, be it in the form of counseling, retreats, seminars, assessments, or workbooks, etc. Indeed, one cannot expect to experience a lifelong, satisfying, and close marriage without engaging in annual enrichment avenues. Marriage is hard work, but it is always worth the challenge and joy of marriage enrichment! If you’re looking for a fun marriage enrichment avenue, I invite you to Better Love, a four-week workshop I will offer beginning October 2nd at Statera. Click on the link below to learn more and to register.


~Rev. Dr. Christopher English MA, MDIV, DMIN

*Ask Our Healthcare Professionals is a weekly opportunity to ask our team any question you have. Answers are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or dysfunction and are intended for general informational purposes only. Submit your questions by email to, and feel free to leave out any identifying information if you prefer!

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