Amidst the day-to-day chaos of life, it becomes very easy to find yourself putting your relationship on the back burner. You may begin to feel disconnected from your partner, find your arguments becoming repetitive with no compromise or resolution, and can’t figure out how to break out of unhealthy communication patterns. This can be downright overwhelming and can feel very isolating. You don’t have to walk this road alone… couples counseling can be very beneficial.
Couples counseling can help by providing a safe and neutral space for both partners to express their thoughts and feelings and help them see one another’s perspective. A trained professional can assist the couple by teaching them skills to improve communication and self-regulation, helping them identify and address underlying issues, and providing tools and strategies to strengthen the relationship.
So you bring couples counseling up to your partner and you are met with a resounding no…what now? Your partner might be resistant to counseling for many different reasons including a previous negative experience with counseling, fear of the unknown and unsure of what to expect, believing counseling will cause the relationship to end, or feeling that they can address the concerns in the relationship without outside support. Hope is not all lost. If your partner doesn’t want to go to couples counseling, there are a few ways you can approach this topic and explore what options you may have.
1.Have an Open and Vulnerable Conversation About It
To have this conversation with your partner, it is important to approach it with genuine curiosity and empathy. Find a calm moment when you are both available to discuss this with minimal distractions and explore what their view is on counseling. Talk openly with your partner about why they don’t want to go to couples counseling and try to understand their perspective and find common ground. Openly express your feelings towards counseling and any concerns you may have in an attempt to normalize and validate any concerns that might be running through your partner‘s mind. Though the view of counseling has drastically changed in the last few years, there is still a stigma surrounding counseling that lingers. Share your reasons for wanting to go and how you feel it could benefit your relationship. Utilize “I-messages” when expressing yourself to ensure clear and assertive communication without placing blame. Remember to be patient and respectful throughout the conversation.
2.Opt for a Trial Run and Set Ground Rules
Explore if your partner would be willing to agree to try an agreed-upon set number of sessions to test out couples counseling. While you cannot force your partner to engage in counseling, you can offer to start with a brief trial period of a few sessions to see if it could prove to be beneficial for the growth and improvement of your relationship. Set ground rules and boundaries that feel right for both of you including agreeing that either of you can choose to end counseling at any time, choosing to end work with a therapist if they are not a good fit, or not answering certain questions in therapy if either of you are not comfortable enough to do so. Often clients come in apprehensive and through the initial stages of building rapport they gain buy-in with their trusted professional and become more receptive to the idea of continuing counseling if the therapist feels like a good fit. This trial period of a few sessions can remove the mystery of what couples counseling truly entails and allow each partner to get a sense if the therapist is a good fit.
3.Research Alternative Routes
If your partner is still not willing to go to couples counseling after open conversations surrounding the idea, explore other forms of relationship support. Alternative routes instead of couples counseling can include books, workshops, or online resources, that you can both engage in together. A few book suggestions that our counselors recommend for improving relationships include:
- For married couples – Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships by David Schnarch PhD
- For couples who are ethically non-monogamous – Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy by Jessica Fern
- For couples exploring attachment styles – Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love by Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel Heller, M.A.
Ultimately, it is essential to find a solution that works for both of you and respects each other’s boundaries.
4.Try Individual Counseling
Just because your partner doesn’t want to go to couples counseling, doesn’t mean you can’t find professional support for yourself. You may consider seeking individual counseling to increase your insight, identify your contribution to the challenges you are facing with your partner, and learn tools to navigate the ongoing challenges within your relationship. Focusing on yourself can encourage your partner to have the desire to invest in themselves and make necessary changes to improve the relationship or give you the insight needed to reevaluate the relationship and if it is helpful to continue or begin exploring uncoupling if necessary.
Couples counseling can offer guidance and support from a trained professional to navigate challenges and work towards a healthier and more fulfilling partnership. If your partner is not ready to take this step, try a few of the suggestions from this blog to see if you can come to a compromise on working towards improving your relationship. If you need support, our counselors at Natural Balance Counseling would be honored to walk alongside you on this journey. Reach out today to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation.