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Marriage counselors’ advice to couples

Posted by / June 7, 2019

A recent Ask Reddit post asked marriage counselors to share the most common mistakes that couples make. The responses were enlightening, and we’ve took the time to sort through the response to bring you the best.

The best five tips come from a single user:

  • 1) Expecting partners to be able to read their mind and anticipate needs and wants
  • 2) Goes with the first one, lack of communication/comfort with discussing difficult topics. Or one partner being uncomfortable with discussion a topic which leaves both partners feeling frustrated or dissatisfied
  • 3) Blaming their partner for all issues in the relationship and not taking ownership of their own role in dysfunction/issues
  • 4) Not expressing gratitude towards your partner on a regular basis. Experiences and expressions of gratitude can have a really positive effect on psychological well being as well as relational strength.
  • 5) Not giving intimacy in their relationship enough attention. This includes but is not limited to sex. Many relationships start with the “hot and heavy” phase where intimacy can come naturally. As this phase diminishes many couples do not spend the time and energy to consider how to maintain a healthy level of intimacy now that it doesn’t just come naturally.

The next best advice offers some other tips:

  • 1) Keeping score. A partnership is a team, not a competition. Whether a person keeps score of everything they have done, or everything their partner has done, it is a death knell for the relationship. This is one of the most common causes of resentment in a relationship, and you see it often when people use absolute terms to describe themselves or their partners (I.e: I always…, she never…). Remembering that each person has his/her own needs, abilities, skills, and boundaries is essential to a healthy couple.
  • 2) Expecting that because your significant other knows you better than others and is around you most, that they are aware of all of your thoughts and feelings. Your partner is not psychic, and no matter how often they are around you or how well they know you, they cannot pick up on every nuance to determine how you are feeling and how they should respond. That is called emotional babysitting, and it cascades into a host of problems and unnecessary hurt.

A lawyer offered his/her own insight:

  • If you’re marrying someone with a shitty credit score, you should know how and why they ended up with it, lest you find yourself in their shoes very quickly. A credit score can cost thousands and take Y E A R S to rebuild. Know if they have any tax liens or liability. Are they paying child support and do they have any kind of garnishment? Who is going to be responsible for managing the finances? How many credit cards does the other person have and what are their balances? I’ve seen money kill a lot of marriages.
  • ​Another one a lot of people don’t think of is actually talking about sex, not just having it. Do you enjoy the sex you have? Would you like to have more of it? Less? Would you like to se it change? Do you or the other person have any weird kinks? Just have the talk. Different sexual wavelengths can be difficult to reconcile.

One counselor suggests that couples learn how to give up control:

Number one problem I see is overactive threat response creating anger and rigidity. People don’t stop to turn down their defense mode, and lose sight of love because all their energy is going towards being right or controlling the outcome. Of course that control comes from a place of fear, but fear and vulnerability feels too dangerous, so it typically gets expressed as anger, frustration, or rigidity.

Surrender to not having control, accept what’s in front of you, and cultivate compassion. Please. Because y’all rigid couples who just can’t prioritize empathizing with each other over your fear response are driving me nuts! 🙂

And finally, one user (not a counselor) shared this article, which actually compiled the work of counselors.

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