13 Things Marriage Counselors Know About Your Relationship

Counselors across the country weigh in on what they are really thinking during couples therapy.

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1) I love couples who fight in the waiting room. At least they still care about each other. If one or both of you seem indifferent, my job is a lot harder.

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2) When you say your feelings "just aren't there anymore," I know you're probably cheating.

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3) Sometimes I'll tell a couple "no sex until the next session. Don't touch each other, period." What I'm really hoping is that they'll fail and feel a sense of unity from their mutual rebellion.

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4) It may make you feel better to talk about your marriage issues with a good friend, but it will just make things worse. Never talk to outsiders about things in your marriage that you haven't already talked about with your spouse.
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5) I'm not going to tell a couple that I have no idea why they're together. But take the hint if I say something like "You both have to make a decision about whether this is going to work long term."

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6) What do I wish I could say? "Grow up!" "Stop whining!" "Get a life!" When I feel this way, I know I need a vacation.

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7) Don't try to convince me you're the good one. In most marriages, there isn't a good one.

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8) Yes, you should go to bed angry. If you try to resolve everything before you hit the sack, you'll both be sleep-deprived and cranky the next day. Instead, get a good night's sleep and talk once you're rested.
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9) Three signs that a couple is not going to succeed: name-calling, finger-pointing, and when one or both partners fail to accept even the tiniest bit of responsibility for the situation.

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10) Sometimes two people love each other but have such different styles of living that I recommend they live together in a duplex. It sounds strange, but it works for some people.

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11) I've seen couples I thought didn't stand a chance end up staying together. Often it's because they're both willing to try. But sometimes it's just that they are too dysfunctional to leave each other.

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12) The big thing most women don't understand: Men are not mind readers. If you don't tell him how you feel, he's not going to know. The big thing most men don't understand: If you hardly acknowledge your wife all day, she's not going to want to get intimate with you at night.
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13) If I ask you how long you've had problems and your answer is "ten years," you're not going to change things in ten minutes or ten sessions.

Plus: More Secrets Your Marriage Counselor Won't Tell You

Sources: Jeff Palitz, a marriage and family therapist in Chula Vista, California; Susan Fletcher, PhD, a psychologist in Dallas; Tina B. Tessina, PhD, a psychotherapist in Long Beach, California; Nancy Mramor, PhD, in Pittsburgh; Karen Sherman, PhD, in New York; Lawrence J. Levy, PsyD, a licensed psychologist in Boca Raton, Florida; Meghan L. Reitz, LCPC, NCC, in Schaumburg, Illinois; and a marriage counselor in Pennsylvania.

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