People – mostly women – get in touch with me all the time because they desperately want to start couples therapy but their partners just won’t go. Today I’ll be discussing 3 steps to get your partner sold on couples therapy.
Step 1: Be Careful with the When and How
If you’re like most people trying to get your partner to join you for couples therapy, you are most likely frustrated with your relationship and with your partner. You don’t know what else to do. So you get mad and you say, “we need serious help.”
It’s very important when and how you bring up the idea of going to couples therapy.
Getting angry at your partner isn’t going to help him want to engage in couples therapy with you. It will probably cause him to pull away and hide from you even more. (If you missed my recent post on how to get your partner to open up, check it out here.)
Don’t even think of bringing up the idea of going to therapy with him in the middle of a fight. And don’t do it in angry (even if you are angry beyond belief).
Instead, find a time when you’re getting along. From a loving place that won’t feel threatening to him, let him know that you cherish times like this when you get along. Tell him you want more of these times. Let him know how much you value your relationship and want it to be better.
Make sure you are feeling calm when you tell him this. If you can even allow yourself to get a little vulnerable with him, letting him into your fears that the two of you will never be able to figure it out, your chances of him hearing you will be even higher.
It’s hard to really be vulnerable when your relationship is strained. Even if you *think* you are being vulnerable, you may still feel frustrated and sound a little hostile. Check yourself before opening your mouth.
You are taking a big risk by wearing your heart on your sleeve and he may still reject the idea, but it’s worth everything you have to save your relationship.
Step 2: Own Up To Your Part of the Problem
You may feel that the problems in your relationship are really his fault, but I can assure you, they probably aren’t.
Let’s face it, it takes two to tango. And you are half of this relationship.
Even if you can’t believe me that you have something to do with the problems in your relationship, act as if you do.
I’m telling you this so that your partner won’t think that you are hoping to get him to therapy so that he’ll shape up and you’ll just stay the same. Whether you like it or not, you will be a large part of the process.
If you’re the one who wants to go to therapy, my bet is that you might have the tendency to be a little critical. In fact, your partner might feel constantly criticized by you. The last thing he wants to do is go to therapy with you so that he will be told not only by you but by the therapist that he’s wrong (even though that’s not how it works).
The thing is, your partner is probably scared of you.
And couples therapy probably feels like a boxing ring to him where he’s guaranteed to face a Total Knock Out.
So if you come from a vulnerable place in telling him of your fears and hopes for the two of you, he’s going to be more likely to hear you. If he learns that you aren’t just a tough boxer ready to fight him, but your hands are actually trembling scared underneath those gloves, he’ll be less afraid of you.
If you own up to your problematic behavior in your relationship, he’ll be less likely to think it’s going to be all about him.
You can let him know that you don’t want to be angry all the time and want to share more of this genuine experience of yourself with him, but that you need his help. You can acknowledge the ways that you act that you are less than proud of, and let him know that you want to treat him better.
Step 3: Educate & Appreciate
Once you let him know where you’re coming from and that you are interested in couples therapy because you value him and your relationship so much, you need to educate him a little bit on what to expect.
Don’t fret if you yourself don’t know what to expect yourself. That’s why you’re reading this! I’m going to cover the basics of what you can tell him now.
(By the way, scroll up and sign up to the right for updates to be delivered to your inbox weekly, and you’ll be one of the first to read an upcoming post on the Top 10 Myths About Couples Therapy Dispelled. This could be a helpful piece to share with your mate when it comes out. I just need to write it!)
Tell your partner that the couples therapist is not going to take sides. Good couples therapists generally don’t do that.
Tell him that you want to go there to learn ways you can treat him better.
Make sure he knows that you aren’t suggesting couples therapy so that you can break up with him.
Let him know that couples therapy doesn’t have to take forever. Depending on your situation and what kind of therapist you see, you can achieve great results in just a few months. You can read more about Emotionally Focused Therapy here together – it has been shown to help couples without a history of trauma recover from their problems in 8-20 sessions.
And make sure he knows that you don’t have to be crazy to go to therapy. People who go to therapy are generally strong, proactive constructors of their own reality – and couples who go to couples therapy are simply getting a little help in creating their best relationships.
And let him know about the results that he can expect by going to therapy with you. Here are just a few:
better and more frequent sex
more confidence, decreased stress
improved performance at work
better physical health
finally being able to connect to each other again
Lastly, make sure you let him know how much you appreciate him, especially if he agrees to go.
Ask him what you can do to for him to express your appreciation, whether it’s going to that horrible movie with him that he wants to see, cooking him dinner each night for a week, or something else all together.
I hope this helps. More importantly, I hope it works.
How did you get your reluctant partner to join you in couples therapy? Please leave your comments below so we can learn from you, too!
Cheers to your best relationship,