Counsellors are trained to evaluate a couple’s relationship very quickly. Want to know how they do it?
They start by observing a couple’s body language. And then listen carefully to how the couple live their lives together. Of course, everyone’s different, so something that might indicate deep trouble for one couple might mean nothing for another.
But it’s worth running through a typical counsellor’s checklist for your own relationship.
Start with your eyes. Because strong couples look into each other’s eyes a lot. So if your eye contact’s poor, you might want to ask why.
Happy couples mirror each other’s gestures, and tend to walk in sync. So a disconnected movement pattern suggest a problem.
Your blink rate rises when you’re happy together. But also if you’re uncomfortable or stressed. So pay attention to any sudden changes.
Strong couples lean in towards one another, and respond to each other with head and leg movements, glances and changes in voice tone. So take note if you realise that your partner’s stopped leaning towards you, or those responses have stopped.
Strong couples stay physically close, even during difficult times. They touch one another often, especially during “non-significant” moments, like when they’re eating together, watching a movie or settling down to sleep.
So changes in your usual touching pattern can point to trouble. Particularly if touching has become less intimate. Like gentle stroking has been replaced by dismissive patting.
Good couples kiss a lot — and that leads to a lot of sex! So if your kisses have faded away, or are only ever quick pecks, then things are unwinding.
Take note if your partner doesn’t seem concerned about your mood any more, or doesn’t seem to be aware when you’re upset, or doesn’t make any attempt to comfort you. Because good partners listen attentively and empathise, even when they don’t know how to solve the problem.
Strong couples have fun together. They’re romantic, of course, but that’s hard to sustain. So they also laugh and tease each other, try new things and go out lots.
Strong couples like and respect each other, genuinely enjoy seeing each other being happy, and consciously avoid criticism and contempt. They resist making snide remarks, eye rolling, “looks” and silences.
They’re completely honest with one another, especially about tough subjects like money. They both feel cared for and needed. And approach problems as a team, seeing challenges as something that affects both of them.
They express their feelings clearly. Because the more you show your partner what’s bothering you, the more they’ll understand how to help you through it.
Another key sign of a strong relationship’s how a couple makes up after an argument. Even before they’re over it, they start to restore their emotional connection. Because that’s more important than hurt feelings.
They quickly say sorry, and always stick around to solve the problem. Through good times and bad. Rather than endlessly bailing out when things get rough.