Despite how easy Chrissy Teigen and John Legend make #relationshipgoals look, every couple has fights. But how do you know what's totally normal and when it might be time to call in some professional help?
According to the experts, the ideal time to see a couples therapist is before you're ready to throw in the towel. "You should not go as a last resort. You should go early on," says Rachel Sussman, LCSW, a relationship therapist in New York City. "Do you call an accountant as a last resort? No. You call before the taxes are due and you think you might need help."
To help you decide if it's time to call in the couples therapy big guns, ask yourself these expert-recommended questions.
There are some tiffs you'll just never resolve—like who gets to pick the movie next time you have a Netflix night. But if the same serious fight feels like it's on repeat, that's an issue. "When you've gone over the same thing a hundred times and aren't any closer to resolving it, that might be a sign it's time to see a therapist," says Stephen Snyder, M.D., a sex and relationship therapist and author of Love Worth Making. If you're stuck, get some outside support.
"You have to have a way of managing conflict that works for both of you," says Rebecca Hendrix, LMFT, a relationship therapist in New York. When you fight, can you sit down and really talk to each other or does one of you tend to shut down (what Hendrix calls the "withdrawer") while the other keeps pushing (what Hendrix calls the "pursuer")? Seeing a pro can help you get on the same page and find a fighting dynamic that doesn't end with you pulling your hair out in frustration.
You might not be having honeymoon sex every night, but if things have chilled in the bedroom that could worth a little expert help. "A lot of times if you’re not connecting physically, you’re not connecting emotionally," says Hendrix. Before you know it, your hot bedmate has turned into more of a ho-hum roommate.
Seeing a couples therapist isn't just for troubleshooting tricky relationship dynamics—it can also be super helpful for your partnership when one person is going through something major like an illness or a loss. "It can be hard for people to stay connected when they’re dealing with a lot in their personal life," Hendrix says. "When you just don’t know where to turn, you should absolutely get some extra support."
Everyone has good days and bad days, but at the end of the week, all relationships should have more pros than cons. "If you don’t, that’s a sign your partnership isn’t stable," says Hendrix.
If you do decide it's time to see a therapist, Sussman advises choosing your doc carefully. "Make a few appointments and meet with a few people to see who you like the best. You need a very skilled therapist but you also need to feel like there's a relationship there," she says. Happy therapist shopping.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health.