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22 Marriage Counselors Share The Most Common Mistakes Couples Make, And It Might Hit A Little Too Close To Home

What is that Anna Karenina principle? “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Well, turns out it isn’t exactly right. Many unhappy families (or couples, anyway) are unhappy in the same ways, and that’s because they tend to make the same mistakes.

A recent AskReddit thread launched by u/Zorra_ posed the question: “Marriage counselors, what are the most common mistakes couples make?” and you may find that many of the replies hit a little too close to home.


Expecting one person to be everything for them. You need friends, coworkers, a support system, and hobbies.—fairiefire


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.—natgoeshome


Not listening, most people listen to respond and don’t listen to hear. This is what I spend the most time teaching couples how to do!—cplkm


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.—maxpowerphd


I went to 5 sessions with my wife during a tough period. The best things we learned from that is:

1. never lash the other with past misbehaviors when trying to resolve a current issue. We have been married 17 years so there is limitless crap we can pull out of our history together to highlight past wrongs and that just derails what could be a quick resolution.

2. When one half says “I am not happy about X”, do not respond with “ok but I am unhappy with Y.” Fix X. Get settled. Then bring up Y if you still need to.—mrmrmrj


As soon as couple stops being on the same team, fighting all the bullshit of life together, things fall apart. Get on the same team. Get behind each other’s goals.—thudly


Not giving intimacy in their relationship enough attention, including sex. Many relationships start with the ‘hot and heavy’ phase in which intimacy comes naturally. But as that phase diminishes, many couples don’t spend the time and energy to figure out how to maintain it.—maxpowerphd


Therapist here, have served couples. 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.—WhyAreYouUpsideDown


Bringing a child into a broken marriage expecting them to be the lifesaver — it has never worked and will never work. A child is supposed to be the consolidation of the mutual love of the couple because the marriage is in a good place, not the other way around. —an_annoyed_jalapeno


Thinking that they have to feel ‘in love’ at all times, and that if they don’t, then they obviously married the wrong person. —mwehofer12


Allowing family and friends to get too involved in the relationship. Remember the saying, ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth?’ Yeah — exactly this.—Being_grateful


Waiting until your relationship is already DOA before coming to therapy, and then expecting your therapist to revive it in one hour. —BellicoseBelle


Expecting that because your significant other is around you most, that they are aware of ALL of your thoughts and feelings. Your partner is not psychic!—natgoeshome


Yelling instead of troubleshooting.—Mossbacher


Treating their pets better than their partners.—LAW1212


When one person is hurt and instead of saying so, they try to hurt the other person back. Much of the relationship damage couples endure is the back-and-forth ‘hurt each other’ game that snowballs out of control, causing a ton more damage.—Mightymeatballs


Sexual incompatibility — as in, one person viewing sex as a bonding activity while the other views it as a utility.—BlucatBlaze


Wife has degree in marriage and family counseling. One of the bigger factors in a successful marriage are couples responding to “repair attempts” during arguments/conflict. Rescue attempts are often little jokes or olive branches to help overcome issues and arguments.

Edit: people keep asking for an example. My wife didn’t buy movie tickets in advance for date night this last Sunday and it was sold out. It sucked! She laughed and sheepishly said, “we’ll, at least we get to spend more time together staring longingly into each other’s eyes!”

That was her rescue attempt. It works two ways though, I also have to respond positively to it… which I did. We did a lot of staring longingly into each other’s eyes last Sunday.—KaptainKompost


They say people divorce over money, but they don’t — they divorce over values. And nothing brings out someone’s values — or lack thereof — like money.

If you can’t understand the person’s priorities, fears, hopes, dreams, goals, and what drives them financially, if you look down on them for any of that, or if think you’ll be able to fix any of that, don’t marry them.—LauraMcCabeMoon


When your significant other brings something to your attention, that they need/want, don’t react harshly if it’s something they’ve refused to bring up sooner. Getting loud or defensive “Why didn’t you bring this up sooner!” will make them shy away from bringing things up again due to negative reinforcement/backlash.—Mcl3lland


Going to a marriage counselor thinking they’re like a judge and will tell you who’s right and who’s wrong. —bwnmc3


Marrying someone they wouldn’t go into business with. I’m a paralegal, and I always tell people that if you can’t imagine yourselves opening a dry cleaning business, creating the next great start-up, or running a B&B together, then DO NOT marry that person. Because marriage is a legal business, a contract that creates a business relationship with the other person. And to marry them is to open a business enterprise with them.—LauraMcCabeMoon


Sometimes people are just looking to express their feelings and feel heard. I’ve made the mistake multiple times of jumping to try and find the ‘solution’ to a problem, when the better thing to do was to be open, listen, and acknowledge the validity of my partner’s feelings.—dudeguy1234