I hear this often…
I know there is something wrong. We need help! But…my partner WILL NOT go to marriage counseling with me. I address some of the reasons couples don’t feel they can go to counseling in this VIDEO.
Couples end up in my office in many different states. Sometimes one partner is very reluctant and is practically dragged in by the other. Often both people are nervous and decided to come because this is their last resort. Couples come in to say they “tried counseling,” but really, one or both are already planning to divorce. Sometimes couples come in because they see an issue and want to work on it before it does get too bad…these couples see the most progress quickly.
I feel great hope for couples and individuals that come in to my office. Each person has the ability to make progress and have a different, more healthy relationship and life. I am ready to work hard. I offer support and assist you in finding ways to make progress. You need to be ready to work hard too. Often times, good things take a lot of effort and some pain to accomplish. Your marriage relationship is no different. You have to pay attention to your marriage and work on your relationship for it to be good.
So, what do you do if your partner doesn’t want to come to counseling?
You have some options:
You can keep doing what ever it is that you have been doing and hope that you will get a different result.
(That is the AA definition of insanity, by the way.)
You can choose to read a book about marriage, with the idea of looking at yourself and growing.
This can be a helpful option. It would be great if your spouse was willing to read the book too, but you certainly can learn and grow from a good book even if your spouse isn’t willing to read it. Some recommendations I have are:
Hold Me Tight (Created for Connection, is the Christian version), by Sue Johnson
Emotional Connection, by Dr. Michael and Paula Regier
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John M. Gottman, Ph.D. and Nan Silver
The Sacred Marriage (this is a Christian book), by Gary Thomas.
You can keep pestering your spouse until they give in.
This does work in some cases. It can also backfire and cause more tension and frustration in your relationship. If you are going to try this, I recommend gentle suggestions and open-hearted conversations, rather than “pestering.” Sometimes having a conversation or two and then giving your spouse some time to process and consider can be helpful.
You can make threats to leave if they won’t come in.
This has worked for some people. I do not recommend this option, unless you are actually planning to leave if they don’t come in. I also suggest trying to communicate rather than threaten. Share that you really want things to work, but don’t see how they can without support. Share that you are willing to work hard to make changes, but you need to see that both of you are on the same page. Counseling may be the only option you haven’t tried. Explain that if things keep going the way they are, the only option you see is to leave and that’s not what you want.
You can choose to go to counseling on your own.
This is often my recommendation. I believe that one person can make a difference in the relationship. I do not think this is the ideal situation, but it is making a change that can be positive.
This option is not without risk and is not for everyone. Your spouse could be upset that you are seeking counseling. Growing and changing while your spouse isn’t or in a different direction than your spouse could end up bringing you further apart. I often tell clients that growing and changing will likely help their marriage improve, but if it doesn’t, it will help you to be able to handle the separation in a healthier way for yourself, your spouse and your children.
In individual counseling focused on improving your marriage, you can look at your patterns of interaction with your spouse and decide which patterns are healthy and which you want to change. You can gain insight into your reactions and understand yourself and your needs better. This understanding can be an important part of effectively communicating with your spouse. Sometimes gaining insight into yourself can also give you insight into how your spouse is feeling. Having a space to express yourself and feel heard, can be helpful in calming down and gaining new perspective. When you are calm and thinking clearly, you are more likely to have interactions in your marriage that you feel good about. Counseling can also help you have the courage to stand up for yourself in a healthy way and do things that you need to do for yourself. Becoming a healthier individual can influence your marriage and other relationships in many positive ways.
I am sure I did not cover all the options, but I hope you have some new ideas.
If you would like support in improving your marriage, please call, 559-238-7464 or email to set up an appointment.