“An unofficial litmus test is when I ask at some point in the first few sessions how the couple met.”
“These are typically young women (sometimes young men, as well) who do not work, do not have children, stay home all day, and have no friends or hobbies outside of hanging out with their spouse. Very unhealthy, and a huge red flag. Always ends in a painful and messy breakup.
Generally, we try to get them to find a friend, join a community, get a job, or volunteer — something to provide them with self-worth and personal fulfillment outside of their spouse.” —u/milksteaknjellybean
“Then it’s about highlighting the points and allowing the person who is on the fence to decide what they want since the other person knows.” —u/ChickenSoup4theRoll
“There are always two levels of communication, one is the direct message intended (‘please clean up the dishes’) and the second is communication about the communication (‘I expect you to do what I ask’). When communication about the communication turns meta, the message gets muddled and a power struggle erupts from misunderstandings. Tone, body language, and the way one responds to the request… all become the focal point.
If the arguments don’t fall into meta arguments, then that’s a sign the couple has a strong foundation, and the work is usually about exploring expectations of the relationship or readjusting roles. If they fall into meta arguments, it’s a sign the couple needs to build up their foundation which will likely lead to them able to adjust the roles themselves once that happens. Two different approaches, the same base issue at hand.” —u/mybustersword
“Or, ‘I violated your trust and did drugs, you can go out and do whatever for one night.’ It erodes trust and compounds the hurt.” —u/crode080
“We process where the need for the change comes from, and the person with the issue evaluates whether it’s a dealbreaker for them or not. We work on acceptance and tolerance of others. I also recommend my couples are also in individual therapy on their own.” —u/ladyledylidy
“Kids are smarter than you think, and if mom and dad don’t love each other, they’ll pick up on it. If the kids are really the priority, either learn to fix the relationship or end it.” —u/NEM3S1S
“With their level of emotional maturity, I doubt it lasted. I don’t know if I helped them or prolonged their suffering. It was their decision to come to counseling, so I think it was the help they wanted.
Other clients realize what they really want is ‘divorce counseling.’ What’s the best way to behave civilly and minimize damage to the kids while we go our separate ways?” —u/lightspeeed
“Almost like they’re complaining to a parent or boss to have them sort out the problems.” —u/Hyujikol
“When people come in and they’ve been so unhappy for so long that they actually can’t remember what it was like to be in love or to even like each other, they’re just about hopeless.
You don’t have to be happy for therapy to work — but if you can’t even reminisce about the good times, then the good times are probably over.” —u/TiredMold
“For example, maintain your routine. If you go to bed at 9 pm and wake up to work out at 5 am, maintain that. A decent person will respect that. A non-decent person will try to bulldoze through it. It might look like, ‘Awe, stay up talking with me, I’m lonely,’ or, ‘It’s romantic to talk all night.’ If you aren’t a teen, it isn’t cute. It actually makes you too tired to be present and critically reflective of the relationship. If they are teasing and making fun of your routine, you probably don’t have the same values. It isn’t about who is right or wrong, you probably aren’t on the same page.
Other good ones to pay attention to are ‘cute things’ that violate a boundary. ‘Hey, I have my kids this weekend, so no in-person time, and I will only spend time on my phone after the kids go to bed at eight,’ and — guess what — the person ‘cutely’ surprises you with a coffee. I’d give this a one-time pass, ‘thanks for the coffee, sorry I can’t have you in, I’m not ready for you to meet the kids, etc.’ The person’s response to being called out tells you so much.”
“As soon as I realize a couple is doing things separately, like applying for car loans without the other’s knowledge or planning personal trips without consulting the other, I know that the couple is soon doomed.” —u/Mattrockj
“If it doesn’t lead to cheating, it still will usually cause unneeded strain that will break apart the relationship.” —u/NEM3S1S
“Occasionally, I’ll have partners who suddenly become very critical or suspicious about this. Asking why I’d do that, and is it ethical, and the classic, ‘I’ve never heard of a marriage counselor doing that before?!’
It goes beyond curiosity or simply inquiring about practice. There is an incredulous and almost panicked tone to it. And sure enough — Every. Single. Time — they turn out to be some variation of controlling, manipulative, abusive.” —u/the_friar
“Either the conflict will continue indefinitely, or come to an end. Not just my opinion. The research supports this.” —u/jollybumpkin
“If there is absolutely no positive effect from either person — no one even cracks a smile, or they just give me a single sentence answer (‘We met at a party’) — that’s usually a signal they’ve been so unhappy so long, or the conflict is so overwhelming that they can’t access those good warm fuzzy feelings from the beginning.” —u/future_es_ms_malcolm
“Mostly because the one using this to avoid accountability is almost guaranteed to play this card in relation to the therapy itself, either ‘I had to drag them here’ or ‘they’re just trying to break up with me.’
What they’re doing is avoiding conversation about the issue by blowing it up into a bigger problem than it is, so they can make the other person respond to their feelings rather than dealing with their concerns.” —u/PsychoPhilosopher
“Dysfunctional relationships are still possible among people who love each other. And loving someone isn’t the only reason to stay with a person. Many of the clients that I’ve worked with in the past, who are in very dysfunctional relationships, have actually stayed solely because of love but continue to struggle in those relationships because they lack trust and respect.
Without respect and trust, most relationships are doomed to struggle or fail. For the couples that I’ve worked with, I always assess whether or not trust and respect are present. And then, I build treatment goals around seeing if it’s possible to develop those qualities. If they are not willing or able, then in most cases those relationships are likely to end.” —u/sparky32383
“I would definitely try to help them work through it but it’s hard to point out to someone that something they are doing is hurting the other.” —u/RLampkin318
“I understand there’s a ton of cultural nuance here, and I work with couples who have arranged marriages, as well as the South Asian community.” —u/crode080
“Communication is key when trying to mend a tattered relationship because without respectful communication, the conflict-recovery process can never begin. In the conflict-recovery model, both parties agree to the terms under which they will communicate (no yelling, no interrupting, no I told you so’s, etc). Each party gets a chance to share how the other’s actions make them feel.
After, they each propose their solutions and identify where they made assumptions or where they got triggered and why. They then identify where they’re willing to compromise. Next, we create an actionable plan with deadlines, and we monitor the progress to see if the proposed solutions were effective.
IMO, everything can go to shit, but once communication stagnates you’re in real trouble. So even if you’re arguing, you’re still doing okay — you just need to work on how you’re communicating.” —u/BeDazzledBootyHolez
“In broader terms, when a couple isn’t honest with each other about their sexual history. There are so many reasons why that’s unhealthy, I can’t even begin to list them all — but the biggest is that honesty is the most solid foundation on which to build a relationship. If you’re afraid of what your partner will think, ask yourself if you want to deal with it now or later. Deal with it now.” —u/NEM3S1S
“We’ve all heard of or know people who will literally disagree with anything you say simply because you said it. That’s the invalidation I’m referring to.
Attack the problem, not each other. People rarely have the exact same stance in a conflict, but they usually (in healthy relationships) have very similar core values. While two parents may disagree on how to parent a child (authoritarian vs authoritative for example), the core value of caring about their children and wanting them to succeed is often the same. By determining they are within the same realm of issue, two parents with different ideals can see themselves as allies in a conflict rather than enemies.” —u/Shozo_Nishi
News – Couples Therapists Are Sharing Relationship Red Flags They Often See And It’s Really Eye-Opening