Marriage is like this: You are so excited, you get married, and when you open the box that contains your new marriage you find a thousand pieces and a note that says “Some assembly required”. Even worse, the instructions are not in a language you don’t recognise, and the pictures are so poor you are not sure they show parts in your box. Okay, go out there and live happily ever after!
If your parents have a great marriage, her parents have a great marriage, and you are in a church full of supportive folks with great marriages, you can probably figure out how to assemble the parts. For the other 99% of us, that box of marriage parts is more scary than exciting.
Unfortunately, most couples are too shy or too embarrassed to seek help, figuring they can muddle through and put together a reasonable marriage on their own. The longer they do it on their own, the less willing they are to admit they need help. They build mistakes on mistakes, creating a marriage that cannot work right, and that becomes more and more difficult to manage.
There is no shame in not having a clue, especially given the fact we live in a society that is generally clueless about marriage. If your problems are small, get help now before they become big. If the problems are already big, get help before they destroy the marriage. If things are not too bad, spending time with a couple with a good sound marriage may be all you need. If you need more help than that, PLEASE find a way. I hear repeatedly from couples who say they can’t afford counselling. Here’s the real truth – it won’t cost as much as a divorce, and it won’t mess your kids up. If your marriage is worth it, you will find a way.
One other warning – you may have to change much of what you have already done. If you had worked on an “assembly required” project and made a mistake early on, the only way to assemble it correctly would be to undo back to the mistake; marriage is much the same. Don’t cut corners, do what it takes to have a great marriage.