How to Get Your Husband into Couples Counseling
In this culture, the tendency is that women are the predominant initiators of counseling…although there is a slight change in the trend. This could be because culturally women are raised to be responsible for relationships. Or it could be that men see counseling as a place where they will be bashed by both their wife and the counselor. Men could see counseling as a weakness and usually they don’t want to talk about their feelings. Whatever the case may be, women do call the set up therapy sessions more than men.
So what do you do if your husband or boyfriend doesn’t want to go to couples counseling? You feel the two of you could improve your connection and don’t like the direction the relationship is heading. You are unhappy. Perhaps you don’t feel he is hearing how serious the situation is. Whatever the reason, he just won’t go to counseling.
Here are a few tips to grow your chances of getting him into couples counseling.
1) Ask him when there is a time of no conflict. Tell him your desire to make your relationship with him strong and fulfilling for both of you, while expressing your love for him. He may be in a better place to hear you when you are away from the fighting and not so angry.
2) Write him a letter, a real letter. This gives you the chance of putting your feelings, experiences and wishes down on paper. It helps you organize your thoughts and puts some distance between you and him which decreases the intensity of the communication. He can read the letter on his own time and as many times as he needs to hopefully come to understand how you are feeling and being affected by the relationship. This may help to defuse the power struggle by allowing for time and distance from the conflict.
3) Allow him to pick the therapist. It’s important that the therapist is not your individual therapist…it would be easy for him to feel ganged up on if he knows you have been talking about him. Go together for the first visit to someone who is new for both of you. Make the first session a consultation to see if you both feel comfortable with the therapist. You both can decide if you want to proceed with this therapist after the initial session. If the fit isn’t right, you allow him to choose another therapist. If he picks the therapist, he may take more responsibility in the counseling process.
4) You start therapy by yourself with an individual therapist. When you get insight into your own perspective of the problems it will help create a better way for you to communicate the negative effect the relationship dissatisfaction is having on you and the marriage. It could also enlighten you to see where you might be contributing to the conflict. You then will be able to explain to him your struggle and your contribution to it. This might make him feel more comfortable with couples counseling and that it could could have some real value.
5) Threaten separation or divorce: This should only be used if you mean it and are will to follow through. It is a last ditch effort and can only be used once, maybe twice in a relationship. This approach signifies that the marriage is hanging by a thread and that the thread is about to break. If you are in a dysfunctional relationship with someone who is unwilling to try and make it better, you must either resign yourself to it and stop complaining or walk away knowing you have tried all you could and that your happiness has importance.
A relationship is worth fighting for. Try everything you can to help save it; even if it means leveraging your spouse into counseling. With a well thought out plan of attack and a willing therapist who recognizes the importance and value of couples counseling, you can resurrect a troubled relationship. He will be glad you did.
If you would like more help on how to persuade your partner into therapy, please feel free to contact me.