The 10 Most Common Mistakes Couples Make, According to Marriage Counselors
"One of the most toxic things is when couples think of themselves as individuals."
One of the most common things you hear about marriage is that it’s hard work. But, if you speak to experts, you’ll realize that a lot of people make the same mistakes over and over again. Recently, a Reddit user asked marriage counselors to share “the most common mistakes couples make,” and the results are truly eye-opening. Here are the 10 best takeaways for you to avoid in your relationship.
“Expecting one person to be everything for them.”
It’s very tempting to want to make your spouse your entire world. But, according to one marriage counselor on Reddit, the biggest mistake married people make is “expecting one person to be everything for them.” To make life rich and meaningful, “you need friends, coworkers, a support system, and hobbies.”
“A person [who] keeps score of everything they have done, or everything their partner has done.”
“A partnership is a team, not a competition,” another marriage counselor on Reddit wrote. “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.”
“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,” the same user wrote. “That is called emotional babysitting, and it cascades into a host of problems and unnecessary hurt.”
“Couples think of themselves as individuals who happen to be together.”
“One of the most toxic things I have found in doing marriage counseling is when couples think of themselves as individuals who happen to be together and not as a couple,” one marriage counselor wrote on Reddit. “That’s not really marriage. That’s having a roommate, or perhaps less than that even. Marriage is a union of two people. That’s what the unity candle and sand and knots are all about. There is a bringing together of two lives that is inseparable. If either member still conceptualizes themself as a solely autonomous individual whose actions and dispositions impact only themselves, things will go bad eventually. … This is seen when couples don’t stop to consider their spouse’s thoughts, feelings, desires, dreams, abilities, and strengths alongside their weaknesses.”
An example? “Spend[ing] money behind each other’s backs because ‘it’s my money, why does it matter?'” the Redditor added.
“The remedy to this is behaving as a unit in small ways and in large,” the counselor noted. “If you’re getting something from the fridge, see if your spouse wants something. It even helps in arguments; no longer is it spouse against spouse but it’s the married couple against the issue causing stress to the unit.”
“Blaming their partner for all issues in the relationship.”
Another marriage counselor on Reddit noted that “blaming their partner for all issues in the relationship and not taking ownership of their own role in dysfunction/issues” is a common thing they see among couples in crisis.
And along the same lines, the Redditor added another issue: “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.”
“People don’t stop to turn down their defense mode.”
One couples therapist on Reddit wrote that the “number one problem I see is overactive threat response creating anger and rigidity.” They continued: “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.”
“I’ve seen money kill a lot of marriages.”
“If you’re marrying someone with a [bad] credit score, you should know how and why they ended up with it, lest you find yourself in their shoes very quickly,” one divorce lawyer wrote. “A credit score can cost thousands and take years 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.”
“Not listening. Most people listen to respond and don’t listen to hear,” one Redditor wrote. “This is what I spend the most time teaching couples how to do!”
“People that don’t quite realize that marriage works best when you are both acting in the others’ best interest.”
“One of the common threads I see running in the midst of relationships/marriages that fall apart is a kind of selfishness,” one couples counselor wrote. “People that don’t quite realize that marriage works best when you are both acting in the others’ best interest and seeking their happiness more than your own. It crops up a lot, but not exclusively, in sex/intimacy: If your primary concern in sex is you, you are not going to build any kind of bond or intimate connection, and nor is it going to be much fun for your partner.”
The Redditor continued: “Marriage is a lot about sacrifice and the couples I see thriving are the ones who are each willing to make sacrifices for the other and for their family.”
“If you don’t talk about [unspoken rules], it is easy to get into negative interactional patterns.”
“Obviously you didn’t grow up together and depending on how you did you grow up, you may have had completely different family of origin (FOO) experiences,” a marriage, couple, and family master’s counseling student wrote. “It can be as simple as your FOO separated out laundry by color and your [significant other’s] just threw everything in together, so you have different family rules regarding laundry. [Or maybe] your FOO had the rule of ‘family problems stay in the family’ and your SO’s family talked to people outside the family about all the problems freely. Everybody has these rules—talking about them and uncovering them (without judgement) will go a very long way in maintaining and deepening connection. If you don’t talk about them, it is easy to get into negative interactional patterns that are just rehearsals of how your FOO did things and not creating healthy, mutually safe patterns.” And if you and your spouse could use some more advice, consider The 10 Surefire Signs You Need Marriage Counseling.
To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to follow us on Instagram!