9 Things Marriage Therapists Know Almost Instantly About A Couple
If this is your first visit to a marriage counselor, you’ve already taken the first big step towards working out the differences between you and your spouse.
However, first impressions are everything, and what you do and don’t say are equally important as your therapist assesses your situation. A marriage therapist can notice things such as you consistently answering questions directed at your spouse or if neither of you are willing to make eye contact, much less open to verbal communication.
If you both are considering therapy, keep in mind that the experience should be an equal opportunity for you both to repair your relationship for the future ahead.
A marriage therapist ― even one who’s worked in the field for years ― can’t know a couple’s full story by the first therapy session. They can tell quite a bit, though. (A spouse’s tendency to avoid eye contact, for instance, reveals more than words could ever say.)
Below, marriage therapists who have been working with couples for years share nine things they can glean about a couple after the first therapy session.
1. They know when you’re lying.
“What people report in a therapy session has to make sense. If it doesn’t, I know one or both are leaving out important information. Part of the challenge is some people cover things up, some are worried about what I’ll think of them and others lie or have a distorted sense of reality.” ― Becky Whetstone, a marriage family therapist in Little Rock, Arkansas
2. They can tell when third parties are more than “just friends.”
“We can tell when spouses are already in love with other people. The tell-tale sign? When they adamantly defend ‘friendships’ that their partners say have been intrusive and or harmful to their relationships. When you love your spouse and want to keep your relationship from splintering, you acknowledge their desperate requests over the other person.” ― Laurel Steinberg, a New York-based sexologist and adjunct professor of psychology at Columbia University
3. They read your body language and recognize if it’s telling an entirely different story.
“Experienced marriage therapists can read code. That means we can look beyond what is being said and learn about the underlying issues by observing the body language of the couple sitting in front of us. When I notice one partner leaning in, reaching across to touch the other, nodding and gesturing in the direction of the other and the other partner leaning away and avoiding eye contact and physical touch, I know we’ve got a problem. No matter what is being said verbally, the body language is speaking volumes and it’s important for me to listen.” ― Vikki Stark, a psychotherapist and the director of the Sedona Counselling Center of Montreal