Couple's therapy is supposed to help couples work through their issues. It allows each individual in that relationship to become a better partner to their significant other. A couple's therapist's career is built on getting couples to learn to love each other again. So what would cause a therapist to tell one of their clients to get out of their marriage ASAP? These people who were told to split took to Reddit to explain why they did or did not take their therapist's advice. Content has been edited for clarity.
"My uncle was a religious leader and a couple went to him for counseling. He said that was the only couple where he advised the wife to divorce her husband.
Her husband was addicted to Star Trek. He worked part time so he could watch old episode reruns and had a whole room dedicated to Star Trek. Toys, DVDs, posters, etc.
He checked out of his marriage. Intimacy was non existent, he had no interest in being a father to his kids, and was basically a troll in the basement.
He had no intention of changing and didn't want to give up any Star Trek time.
Wife took the advice. Got a divorce, lost a bunch of weight, looks better and feels better. She told my uncle months later that she feels happier than she has in years."
"My dad tried to get my mom to go to couples therapy before their divorce. Apparently three sessions in, the therapist turned to my mom and asked if she actually intended on listening or if she just hoped counseling would 'prove' that my dad was the problem. She just got up and walked out. The counselor told my dad therapy would only work if both parties put in an effort, and it was clear this was gonna be one-sided.
Dad filed for divorce a week later and is much happier now. My mom is still a miserable person."
"In my experience, this woman desperately wanted to remain with her husband.
Their marriage had gone south and she set up weeks of sessions. She refused to leave him and told me she would always be a patient and forgiving wife. Her husband was disrespectful to her in therapy, trying to convince me she was a terrible and inadequate wife. Cursing, spitting, the whole lot. There was no excuse or reason to justify the things he would say about her. Meanwhile, she’d be in session nearly doubled over in tears. Her husband later was speculated to be a narcissist, but refused any psychological assessments. She put up with years of abuse, and even got stood up expecting her husband to show up to sessions on multiple occasions.
I couldn’t work with him. It was clear he had no desire to change. This makes therapy extremely difficult. I told them I could not see them as a couple any longer. I advised the wife to divorce as I was aware of the abuse, and suggested to them the relationship was toxic. I knew I was biased towards his wife, and had developed negative feelings toward him; therefore, unethical therapy. The guy was terrible. I couldn’t even bring myself to pretend to be neutral in any fashion and cut him off as soon as possible. I continued seeing her individually for a while but she relocated. Hope she’s doing great!"
"Years ago when I was engaged to my first husband, and we had just moved in together, we were having a lot of problems so I suggested we go to a therapist to 'get on track' before getting married.
The therapist suggested to me that maybe I wasn’t in the right relationship and shouldn’t get married. I, of course, didn’t listen, and insisted that I loved him regardless of his faults (and at the time, border line abusive behavior).
So the therapist then said, 'Well, then you are going to need to lower your expectations, because he isn’t going to change.'
I married him and flash forward 5 years, when we have a 4 year old, and my husband hits me in front of him. He had hit me before, just not in front of our kid. He has also destroyed me financially and isolated me from most of my friends and family. He is also having multiple affairs, but wants to stay married because he is unemployed and wants me to support him.
I ended up having to get a restraining order. He responded by slashing my tires multiple times (he’d slash them, I’d get them fixed, he’d slash them again); breaking into my garage and denting my car and breaking my windshield; breaking into my house and cutting router wires; stealing our son’s dog; and turning off the breakers so when we came home late, there would be no lights.
His reign of terror lasted for two months, all the while he was fighting me in court for joint custody of our son.
The police finally caught him red handed at 2 am in front of my mom’s house, wasted and with a weapon.
He went away to prison for 18 months. I got a 10 year criminal restraining order. And now, six years later, he hasn’t been able to get any custody or visitation with our son, thank God!
But none of it would have happened had I just listened to that therapist."
"I went to couple's therapy with my partner. After our second session, the therapist suggested we separate. We didn't make it to the 3rd appointment as I had to call her and let her know that the ex was in the hospital from a suicide attempt. My ex later admitted his suicide plan was a manipulative attempt to make me stay that he came up with while wasted. His plan was that I would go out, see him laying there bleeding, and everything would go back to happy families.
Except I didn't find him until 7 hours later when he had knocked on death's door.
To be honest, I have often thought about how easier life would have been if he had died. I would have been the 'grieving widow' instead of the single mum with a ton of (his) kids and wouldn't have had to spend the last 6 years being abused, lied to and having him make attempts at turning the children against me. His survival has been the second most stressful period of my life, not to mention the fallout after I had to continue living with him for two more months after his hospital release."
"My therapist told my first husband and I that we should divorce after the first session. At first, it seemed odd that the therapist came to that conclusion so quickly. We walked out of there telling each other we needed to find a new therapist. Our second therapist came to the same conclusion after a couple of sessions.
There was nothing bad about our marriage other than I was bored and didn’t feel like we were a good partnership. He wanted to work on it and I thought I also did but I realized that I just wanted to do whatever I wanted and wished my husband would accept that. Turns out that is not a willing attitude for a happy marriage. That is just one person wanting to be independent and do their own thing.
We divorced and I was immediately happy. He wasn’t. He became happy about two years later. That was many years ago. I am glad that therapist was honest and didn’t push us to stay together.
I just felt limited in my future with him. I was working while attending college full time with a very concise plan for my next ten years. I had been financially independent since 16. I worked myself to the bone.
He was getting college paid for by his parents, only taking a couple of classes and wasn’t doing anything productive outside of these meager responsibilities. He was smoking a lot of weed and enjoying playing video games while I worked my butt off for our future. He told me his plan was to be a stay at home dad when I finished medical school. At first I thought this was okay, but then later grew to resent this. He was and still is a very nice person, but he didn’t have any motivation then and he doesn’t have any motivation a decade later. It wasn’t a big turn on either to imagine your spouse skateboarding with his buddies while you worked two jobs and spent every waking minute studying.
Still, I have no regrets. We grew apart when I realized he wasn’t ever going to get motivated like I was. He was and still is a lovely person with a great heart, he just isn’t my kind of person."
"My cousin's third wife had their therapist tell her to divorce him. My cousin has a number of different mental/personality disorders and cycles through periods of being med compliant and not. As part of his disorder, he can be incredibly charming for stretches of times and has a way of making women fall head over heels for him when he is in one of these periods (hence the three wives). His third wife was also the sweetest, most caring person anyone in the family had ever met. They had a whirlwind romance (met on a trip, fell desperately in love in the week they were together, and cousin proposed a couple months into them being long distance after this single week together).
They quickly planned a wedding and she made plans to move out to be with him. In the lead up to the wedding, pretty much the entire family was trying to warn her that she didn't want to be with him (word to the wise: if your partner's family is trying to warn you off marrying them, really reconsider) but she laughed it off and married him all the same.
Within a few months, he took a swing for the worse, and she started seeing what the family had been warning her about. She tried to weather it out and ended up on a roller coaster with his swings until it got to the point where it got really bad (he stopped being med compliant, lost his job, and got so paranoid that she was afraid to go in the house, just in case he had a break and actually attacked her). Most people would happily call it quits at this point, but as I said, she was the sweetest person and didn't want to 'leave him at his lowest' and also felt she had made a commitment and needed to stick by the man she had fallen in love with. After he got out of the worst of it, she made the ultimatum that he had to go back on his meds and do therapy (both individual and couple), and he agreed. Unfortunately, he was on a good swing again, and being his overly charming self, he managed to convince multiple therapists that he was absolutely fine.
After another bad swing, she actually went to her priest (she was also really, really religious, adding to her belief she shouldn't divorce him) and he helped her find a therapist who could see through my cousin's lies. They did a few sessions with the wife finally feeling like things might get better, since cousin was actually being called out, before the therapist said she wanted to also do individual sessions with each of them to get deeper into their relationship.
At the wife's first solo session, the therapist basically gave a full run down of all the different issues my cousin likely had, information about how from what she had seen that he wasn't likely going to ever get better/remain consistently med compliant/etc., and things would only likely get worse, since when not controlled, the swings he experienced often got more extreme with time (to the point where the therapist was worried for the wife's physical safety if there was a complete break). The therapist had gone so far as to talk to the priest who had referred the wife and gotten information about how they could fully annul the marriage (and so it be approved by the Church, unlike a divorce) due to my cousin not having disclosed these issues before the marriage. I don't know the ecclesiastical law behind it, but basically therapist not only was like 'I recommend you not stay with this person for your own safety,' but 'here is the step by step for getting out of this marriage. PLEASE do that.' The wife ended up staying with my cousin for a good year more before she finally reached her breaking point and left him. She moved back to where she had lived originally and seems much happier now.
But yes, moral of the story, a week together on vacation is not a great litmus test for if being married to a person is a good idea. Listen to people waving red flags in your face."
"Our therapist told us at the beginning of our sessions that she would tell us if she ever felt our marriage was unsustainable.
Third or fourth session in, she said she saw some heavy underlying problems and didn’t know if we were repairable (she had met with us each separately as well as jointly, I didn’t know what or why our major problems were). My wife and I decided to continue therapy.
After a few months of sessions, my wife finally told me that she had been unfaithful multiple times and currently had a boyfriend... I called our therapist for direction. The doctor told me she was dropping my wife as a client and would from then on be solely my therapist.
Turns out Doc was spot on. She told me now I knew some of the things that she’d tried to get my wife to tell me. There were other things as well but she couldn’t divulge what had been discussed in private sessions. The therapist said she had been trying to hint to me to get the heck out of the marriage earlier."
"My ex-wife was a compulsive liar. She lied about anything and everything, from whether or not she checked the mail, to paying bills, to being pregnant (she wasn't... twice). After several sessions, the counselor saw the extent of her lies. She was lying to the counselor in this session, which were all new lies after the last session full of lies. Her exact words were in the session that stood out the most: 'I have no idea why he's even still with you. If it was me, I would have been gone a long time ago. My job is not to save your marriage or tell you to get divorced, it's to help you both come to a decision on where you want your marriage to go and help you both with that direction.'
I'm much happier now and remarried to someone I trust 100%."
"My friend went to several counselors as she is going through a divorce. Her soon-to-be-ex husband suggested a marriage counselor and she decided to go. The first one they went to, the ex had picked out and he wasn't actually a marriage counselor, he was a preacher who was a big advocate of women being submissive to their husbands. So the preacher spent the session telling my friend she was a terrible human for not just letting her husband beat her.
My friend decided to try marriage counseling one more time, but this time she picked out the counselor. It was two people, a man and a woman. They listened to both of them and then the ex husband started getting super creepy, saying stuff like, 'You can't live without me.' My friend had a panic attack and got taken out by the female counselor who told her she needed to go no contact with him because of all the threatening things he was saying and implying."
"I went to counseling with my ex-wife and after 3 sessions or so, the counselor asked us what we would be willing to do in an attempt to reach a compromise. I answered truthfully that I would be interested in a continuation of the marriage but not at the expense of having to give into all of her demands. Then my ex was asked the same question and the answer basically was (paraphrased): 'I would be willing to accept the continuation if my husband would be willing to do what I ask of him.'
The counselor looked back at me, looked into my eyes and said (verbatim) 'You got your answer.' I filed for divorce the next day. Very much to my ex's surprise because, 'We just were in counseling and that was going so well.'"
"Our counselor did an exercise where we had to rate ourselves on a scale on many personality traits, then we had to rate what we thought the other person would rate us on that trait.
When the counselor looked at the results, it showed that my view of her was quite accurate. Her view of me was quite distorted and she had an overly positive view of some of my weaknesses and not an accurate view of my strengths. To put it bluntly, our counselor said she didn't know me well and we were 'the most mismatched of any couples that had done that test'.
We got married anyway. We 'survived' 22 years of marriage but finally, after many, many years of coldness, she decided to divorce me. I wish we'd listened to that counselor. I could have saved myself a world of hurt and pain.
I am happily remarried now and get along fine with the ex."
"My cousin and her husband were told by 6 marriage counselors that they should divorce.
They got married because they thought that's what they were supposed to do. However, they wanted totally different lives. She wanted to stay in the big city, no children, no religion, limited contact with family, and she is high maintenance. He is a country boy, likes living in a small town, hunting, fishing, goes to church twice a week, wants tons of kids, is very family oriented, is happy to wear the same pair of boots and jeans until they wear out. Those two have nothing in common.
They divorced a few years ago and have both found their happiness. Some people just want different lives."
"My first relationship I wanted out and couldn’t end it as I still loved her but was unhappy with a lot of other things in the relationship. We got some free counseling sessions through the government and a rule was that both parties had to go. I explained my entire sob story and the guy hinted that I should end it. I didn’t but my therapist told my ex's counselor that I wanted to end it and then my ex was told and she called me up in tears. I confirmed it was true and then it was all over.
After her, I dated a crazy lady. She was super abusive and down on me all the time. I went and saw a different guy and he straight up told me to dump her. He added on, 'How would you feel if she got pregnant?' I walked out and broke up with her that night. That guy saved me!"
"I am a current marriage and couples therapy graduate intern. We aren’t supposed to explicitly tell clients they shouldn’t be together, the most we can do is tell them that unless they’re committed to each other, we cannot continue therapy.
The closest I came was a couple in which there was mutual domestic abuse and the male partner used the female partner's past abuse to shame her into sleeping with him. As best as I could, I would reflect back his words to her until she recognized how terrible things were and she could no longer commit to him or the relationship. We discontinued couples counseling when they broke up in session and I still see just her as an individual client."
"My friend and his wife recently went to a therapist.
His wife was becoming increasingly distant from him, and less communicative overall. He was working a lot, so there is the possibility it was just due to him and the longer hours he was working. So, he books a couple's counseling session.
She doesn't show up.
She comes up with some lame excuse, and later, they book another one.
She doesn't show up again.
My friend is really confused right now, because he told his wife the time, and she ostensibly wants to make an effort to improve things. The counselor sat down next to my friend and spoke with him. She said, 'I've been doing this for a long time, and everything you told me suggests your wife is cheating on you.'
Sure enough, he signs the papers, and finds out she's been with a guy for the past couple years."
"The therapist my ex and I saw accidentally 'outed' me as having been abused as a child. I had never trusted my ex enough to tell him as he had no sense of personal privacy, but I had answered the questionnaire provided by the therapist as honestly as possible. My ex was abusive and did use this information to manipulate me before and after I decided to leave him.
To her credit, the therapist turned ghost white, like she was seeing her professional life pass before her eyes, and apologized profusely when she realized what she'd done. I'll assume she learned something from the experience. She also advised us that she could not counsel us to remain married but would see each of us individually. When I saw her alone, she advised me that his abusive behavior was not likely to change and that she felt I was in danger.
I left in early 2012, and am remarried now to an amazing guy."
"I recommended my long time therapist to a friend and her husband who had been having marital problems since their wedding in 2013. I had been seeing this therapist for years and knew she would be a good fit for them.
Friend goes in for initial appointment with her husband, finishes and calls me after to tell me she loves the therapist and she can’t wait to see her again next week, as the therapist had recommended she come in for an individual appointment. A week later she told me she went in for an appointment and the therapist spent the majority of the appointment pointing out the obvious flaws in their relationship and telling her that sometimes things just don’t work out like we want them to. She told her point blank this was a toxic relationship and she needed to get out.
A few months later, during one of my appointments, I told my therapist, 'Hey, my friend _ is pregnant with her first baby,' and she cringed and looked down at the floor and I knew exactly what that meant."
"My friend was was engaged and wanted to get married in our church. Our pastor required a couple hours of premarital counseling to make sure the couple was compatible. After the session, the pastor advised both of them to reconsider getting married. They were not compatible at all, and my friend's fiancé showed signs of being abusive. Eventually the pastor did agree to do the wedding, but reluctantly.
Fast forward two years and she is miserable. She is sad because her husband won’t let her help out in the church nursery, go to the women’s group, or even work. She gets to see her family but that’s it. She finally got divorced and left town."
"After 2 1/2 sessions, my marriage counselor told me to end it.
My ex-wife is bipolar and would completely lose it every 3-6 months (diagnosed just after we were married). After three years of suicide attempts and affairs on her side, I left and agreed to 12 sessions of marriage counseling before filing for divorce. The first two sessions went rocky but okay, then in the third she claimed that her infidelity was because I didn't make enough time for her. The counselor asked me how I spend my time, and I pulled my calendar: '6-7 morning routine, 8-5 work, 5:30-6:30 exercise, pick up food, go home and make us dinner, spend evening with her, repeat.'
The counselor asked her what was unreasonable about that and she stood up, screamed at the counselor, 'You're supposed to be on MY side!' Then she walked out. I apologized to the counselor and got my wallet out to pay for the session. He said he wasn't going to charge me, but was going to cancel all future appointments. 'You're young, end this now and don't look back.'
Knowing that even marriage counselors wanted us to fail completely reunited us as a couple and we've been happily married over 15 years now.
Just kidding, I took his advice and ran out of that tire fire of a marriage as quickly as I could."
"My ex husband and I went through months of counseling. He would cry and say he was willing to do whatever was suggested and week after week, we would go back and he would give every excuse in the book for not trying what he'd said he would. After about seven months of this, we went to an appointment and the therapist was done. He looked at me and said, 'You need to run and run far. He's a waste of your time and you'll always be hurt if you stay. It's not my job to tell you to get divorced. I'm being paid to help. But I can't help him. I can help you by telling you to divorce him,' and I did. And I continued going to this therapist until I was good. One visit, he told me my ex tried to continue to see him and he said he couldn't because of a conflict of interest. This therapist, he was worth every penny. Honesty goes a long way!"