Marriage counseling and couples therapy are two very different things that have different purposes. Marriage counseling tends to focus on the present, while couples therapy deals with current events as well as any story that causes unhealthy relationship patterns. Marriage counseling is usually a short-term focused treatment, while couples therapy is a therapeutic process that can last several sessions. Couples counseling, couples therapy, and marriage counseling all address the historical arc of relationships.
It's never too early to start, as marriage therapy will give your relationship good tools to be stronger and healthier together. A recent national survey revealed that 81% of all private practice therapists in the United States offer couples therapy or marriage counseling. Knowing that your relationship has some flaws, having the desire and motivation to address those flaws, and actively seeking support from a marriage counselor is the best thing you can do for your marriage. Start the process on the right foot, be prepared to implement changes inside and outside of counseling sessions, and keep in mind that, no matter how long it takes, you're likely to leave with a happier and healthier marriage.
If you can get help from a marriage counselor earlier, or when the challenges are just beginning, you're better preparing your marriage to face the inevitable toughest seasons. Marriage counselors are experts, but they must have a state-issued license to diagnose mental illness if this is a major part of the problem in their relationship, and some counselors are not always licensed but they can advise. Often, couples seek this service before marriage to better prepare them for the difficult journey of marriage.