A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

19 Things Your Marriage Counselor Knows about Your Relationship—but Isn’t Telling You

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

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

It’s best when you both care

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.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

I know when you’re cheating

When you say your feelings “just aren’t there anymore,” I know you’re probably cheating. Here are 12 subtle signs your spouse may be cheating.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

We try to trick you

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.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

Don’t talk to outsiders

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. Here are a few signs that show a marriage won’t last.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

I’ll try not to be blunt

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.” Watch out for the eight secret signs your marriage is headed for divorce.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

Sometimes I want to yell at you

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.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

I know there isn’t a good one

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

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

Go to bed angry

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.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

We know the signs of failure

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.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

Sometimes I recommend living separately

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.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

Trying can take you far in a relationship

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.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

Men are not mind readers

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. These are the eight habits of couples with steamy sex lives.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

It takes time

If I ask you how long you’ve had problems and your answer is “10 years,” you’re not going to change things in 10 minutes or 10 sessions.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

I would tell a lot of people they shouldn’t be together

If I was 100 percent honest, I’d be telling a lot of couples, “I don’t think you two should be together.”

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

You need to work hard outside of therapy as well

Just showing up every week is not enough. My number one pet peeve is the couple that comes to the session, then leaves and behaves the same way they always have.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

Stop being petty

Do you even hear how petty you guys are being? Does it really matter if the towel was straightened appropriately or not?

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

Come in early on in the process

The earlier you come in, the quicker you can get the problem solved, the less your therapy will cost.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

You need other relationships too

Don’t expect your spouse to be everything you need: your lover, your best friend, your massage therapist, your tennis partner, and your confidant. You need other relationships outside your marriage to fill those roles.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com, shutterstock

Stop complaining

The person who complains about things that happened in the past is usually more of the problem than the spouse they’re complaining about.