Partners can be stubborn about many things. However, one area they tend to be particularly obstinate about is attending marriage counseling. Many spouses are unwilling to admit that the marriage needs help and will make negative statements about counselors and claim their services are a waste of money. However, this form of relationship counseling can help address and resolve issues that people may not even realize are at the root of their problems.
Consider the benefits
If your spouse is hesitant to attend marriage counseling, consider sharing some of these proven benefits:
- A happy marriage is among the most important life objectives for 93 percent of American adults. Couples who undergo counseling together prior to getting married have a 30 percent higher marital success rate than those who do not.
- Counseling has become such a common activity for couples that about 44 percent of couples who get married today go to marriage counseling before they even tie the knot.
- Statistics from the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists showed that 98 percent of couples who received marriage counseling were satisfied with the results of their sessions. While this outcome does not necessarily mean that the couples’ issues were completely resolved, 93 percent of couples also reported that counseling gave them the tools they needed to deal with their problems.
Despite these facts, it sometimes can be difficult to persuade your partner to begin marriage counseling sessions. If you are having trouble convincing your partner that marriage counseling is a good idea, do not despair. Try these strategies to get the ball rolling.
Be prepared for common excuses
Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine how and why your spouse is refusing therapy. It can be frustrating, and you might wish that he or she would just listen to you and go. However, it is rarely that simple. Here are a few common excuses that partners will make for not going to counseling:
- “Our problems aren’t that bad. We don’t have problems like (name-drop) did.”
- “Marriage counseling is too expensive. What a waste of money.”
- “I don’t feel the same way you do. Maybe you’re the only one who needs therapy.”
- “I don’t like physicians or therapists. They just don’t help me.”
- “I don’t want to fight in front of a counselor.”
- “I don’t want to be blamed for all our problems by a stranger who doesn’t know us.”
- “How can someone else know what I should do in my own marriage?”
- “What can they tell me that I don’t already know?”
Approach your partner appropriately
Even when partners have excuses, there are still ways to fight for your marriage. Consider these useful tips to convince your partner to get back in the game and go to counseling with you.
- Go on your own.
Many people are too fearful to attend marriage counseling on their own. After all, what is there to talk about if your partner is not there? However, this belief is far from the truth. People can receive many rewarding benefits from marriage counseling, even if they go on their own at first. Like any form of counseling, it will likely help you change, grow and feel better about yourself. Even if many of the problems stem from your partner’s behavior, your counselor can give you the advice you need on how to approach it. While your spouse may have a negative outlook on counseling, your positive one will help change the way you interact with him or her and possibly change your relationship for the better.
Your partner might also notice the progress you are making and decide to go with you. While he or she may be stubborn at first, seeing the positive change that comes from the sessions can be a convincing reason for someone to go. However, do not expect that this will happen after you attend one session. Like marriage, counseling takes work, so you might not see or feel your progress right away.
- Voice your concerns calmly.
When thinking about marriage counseling, people can tend to bring up the idea with their partner in the wrong way. They might say that the relationship has issues that need to be worked on, blame their partner specifically or say that counseling will help his or her problems. They may even threaten their partner and say they will divorce him or her if change does not happen. All these approaches are potentially damaging ways to approach this issue, and they can cause your partner to become even more opposed to the idea. Instead, it is important to approach the issue calmly. Begin by talking about the pros in your relationship, then segue into a few of the cons. Avoid the temptation to point fingers — note that both you and your partner have things that need to change. Do not make threats, such as divorce or separation — these can be very hurtful words and can cause your partner to react negatively. Even if your partner begins to raise his or her voice, stay calm and positive, and give your spouse time to come around.
- Listen to your spouse’s opinion.
One thing people tend to do incorrectly when discussing the idea of marriage counseling is to state their opinion only and deny the other person a voice. If your partner initially voices his or her concerns about counseling, listen to what he or she is saying instead of getting upset or angry right away. Once you listen, rationally discuss how counseling could improve the marriage and bring you closer together as a couple. Focusing on positives will make the conversation easier.
Pursue your Master’s in Counseling at Bradley University.