Service Engine Soon

Service Your Marriage - Good CounselService Engine Soon! That’s what the little yellow light on my dashboard announces.

But what does that mean, other than the possibility of paying hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to correct a problem that I can’t see, and probably won’t understand?

How do I determine if it is worth it? Will the light go off if I just ignore it? Or will I hear a loud “krathunk” as my car strands me at night, on the highway?

If that does happen I half expect the light to say, See, I told you!

There is another warning, though less intimidating than the screaming yellow light. It’s a small clear sticker on my windshield. I check this often and obey it diligently. Changing my oil has now become routine maintenance, yet if I ignored this warning my car could suffer the same disastrous consequences.

As a counselor I see people who have similar responses when warning signs occur.

Studies show that people often wait an average of 5-7 years before seeking counseling. They ignore the “Service Engine Soon” light, until they experience the “krathunk” — a distressing argument, a threat of divorce or separation – something unpleasant enough to motivate them to seek help.

Imagine the damage that occurs when a warning is ignored for seven years!

Some couples regularly seek maintenance. Engaged couples seeking pre-marital counseling fall into this category. They can’t imagine the slightest blip causing any discomfort in their approaching marital bliss – so they eagerly meet to discuss their relationship. Others just need help over a particular issue, while everything else is running smoothly.

My goal is to help more couples become responsive instead of reactive. I encourage you to pay close attention to both warnings, whenever they occur. It’s usually unexpected, and catches us off-guard, so train yourself to respond to any signs of trouble ahead.

The little yellow light

  • Do you take time to value your spouse?
  • Do you quiet down and listen to each other?
  • Do you keep hitting the same hurtful roadblocks?
  • Do you speak with disrespect, blame, or contempt?

The maintenance schedule

  • Do you spend time together, enjoying life?
  • Do you help each other with the little things?
  • Do you handle conflict quickly and with respect?
  • Do you give compliments often and say thank you?

Warning signs are designed as a benefit to help us intervene before problems spin out of control. If you have warning lights flashing or if its time for routine maintenance, consider giving me a call for some assistance. You might avoid hearing a “krathunk,” and instead keep moving forward.

Chuck_FooterTNChuck has worked with couples and men for over 20 years, focusing on basic communication issues and crisis intervention and restoration. Read more >
He is the author of Marriage Recall, a compilation of helpful topics for couples. Read more at

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