Why So Many Husbands Refuse Therapy Until Their Wives Ask For A Divorce

Understanding why can help you know what to do next.

sad couple, woman looking at camera, man looking at her Kodldunov / shutterstock

For many women, the fact that so many men wait until their wife files for divorce or moves out to seek therapy feels hurtful.

When women struggle in an unhappy marriage, therapy is often an obvious choice. A therapist can give us perspective and empathy and teach us skills to make a change.

That being said, women are often really good at therapy. Why? Because women process their emotions 24/7 and are well-skilled at it. It is culturally acceptable.


Men, not so much.

To be clear, the article is not intended to say that men are in any way inferior to women or that they are not as invested in saving their marriage. This article is meant to help everyone understand why so many men wait until things get truly disastrous to seek therapy.

Understanding the reason might help men or women make a conscious choice about what is next for them.

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Five reasons men wait until things are at their worst to go to therapy

1. They are scared.

As I said above, women process their feelings 24/7.


Since they were very young, women talk about their feelings with whoever might be interested in processing them. This kind of processing is like nectar for women — to talk about how they are feeling and to receive empathy and advice as a result is just irresistible.

For many men, not so much.

I remember when my kids were little and we arrived at school. My son saw a friend and he went over, smiled, and hit him with his lunchbox. My daughter, on the other hand, when she first saw a friend, their heads immediately went together to discuss something of great importance.

As many men get older, the lunchboxes might no longer be present but the intention is the same. To greet each other and express affection (think bro hug) but not to get too intimate.


I have a client who wants to leave his relationship. She wants to get married and he does not. One of his best friends has shared that he wants out of his relationship too. Has my client shared that his experience is the same? Nope.

For many men, expressing their vulnerability is very, very scary. By opening themselves up to their friends, they might fear that they are could be judged or scorned, or pitied.

To open themselves up to a therapist is even scarier. I can’t tell you how many of my male clients worry that if they go to therapy they will be judged. And I can’t tell you how many of them who do make it to therapy lie about what is going on, for the same reason.

So, I believe that the fact that so many men wait until their wife files for divorce or moves out to seek therapy is born of fear.


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2. They have had a bad experience.

So many of my male clients hate marriage counseling with a passion! Why? Because they find that every session is all about bashing them for everything that they do.

Women often catalog everything that their husband has done wrong over the course of their marriage. Men generally don’t keep track of their wife’s shortcomings and tend to forget the discussions about their own.

As a result, they get to therapy and must sit there while their spouse talks about the litany of things that they are doing wrong, and the therapist reacts by ‘asking them how they feel’ about what their wives have just said.


Over the course of the hour, men are forced to think clearly in light of the pain that they have inflicted on their spouse and address the fact that some stranger wants them to talk about it, things that they are not well skilled at or even capable of doing.

Looking at it this way, I totally sympathize with my male clients who go through this. I try to encourage them to talk to the therapist about working on building skills in the marriage and not focusing on the past, as often happens.

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3. They are hiding their heads in the sand.

This, I am afraid, is one of the biggest reasons that many men wait until their wife files for divorce or moves out to seek therapy they just don’t want to believe or admit that anything is wrong in the marriage.


I can’t tell you how many of my male clients are so surprised when they are faced with the fact that their wives are unhappy. That the 1000 little cuts over the course of their marriage have brought them to a place where they have let their wives down and pushed them away, even if they didn’t mean to.

As a result, men don’t tend to see the immediacy of the need for therapy. And, so many men don’t ‘believe’ in therapy.

They believe that the issues will just go away and that they can face them down the road or that a therapist won’t be able to help them anyway.

Unfortunately, none of those things tend to happen. As a result, marriages fall apart every day.


4. They don’t want to make the time.

Ok, how many times have you used the excuse that you just don’t have enough time in your day to go to therapy?

Between work and the kids and date nights and the gym, trying to squeeze therapy in is impossible. So, you don’t.

And then, what happens is that, once men are separated or divorced, they have a lot more free time.

Why? Because they only have the kids part-time and they don’t have to put any time and energy into making their wives happy.

Sure, they can fill their time with the gym and beers out with the guys but that only goes so far.

And going home to an empty house at the end of the day can lead to all sorts of thoughts of self-loathing and depression and fear for the future.


When this happens, they see that there might be a need for therapy, if only just to process the negative thoughts that run around in their brain, before they suck them dry.

5. They want to find someone else.

Ok, I dated for 6 years before I met my new boyfriend. And I am guessing that 80% of the men that I dated had done some kind of therapy after their divorce.

They went to therapy to process what had happened, to learn how to manage the pain, and how to be a good parent or ex after the divorce. What they didn’t know at the time was how important therapy was to find someone new.

For women who have been divorced, we have had a lot of therapy and we have a pretty clear vision of what we want and what we don’t want. And one of the things that we want most is a ‘man who has done his work.’


We want a man who will make the choice to dig into why their marriage fell apart, accept their role in it, and learn what they need to do differently this time around.

Men who haven’t done any work generally don’t get a second date.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Why Your Partner Wants To Go To Couples Therapy That Have Nothing To Do With You

There is one thing that is NOT one of the reasons that men wait to go to therapy  that they don’t love their wives. I can’t state that clearly enough.

If your husband won’t go to therapy, it’s not that he doesn’t love you, and work hard to not let that thought get in your mind and accept it as truth. It will only hamper your work on your marriage.


Many men don’t go to therapy because it’s scary, because they have PTSD from past experience, because they don’t believe it’s necessary, and because they don’t have the time. And then they do go to therapy to find someone new.

Again, this article is not meant to attack men. I know that men only want what is best for their wives and their families but I do believe that, for some men, therapy is just not one of those things that they can do easily and so they put it off.

And that is ok.

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Mitzi Bockmann is a certified life and relationship coach. She has over 10 years of experience in helping people find happiness in life and love.