The primary goals of couples therapy or counseling are to improve relationship satisfaction and conflict resolution between couples. Continue reading to find out more.
Every relationship experiences adversity from time to time. Even when couples are deeply committed and love each other, problems can arise. Financial difficulties can put a strain on a relationship. One partner may feel unloved due to a lack of intimacy. There may be disagreements when deciding how to raise your children. All of these issues are normal in a relationship.
When couples feel stuck and find themselves circling the same issues, couples counseling may be helpful. Working with an experienced couple's therapist can improve communication and assist you with resolving conflicts you may have.
While there are numerous benefits to attending couples counseling, your partner may not be interested. However, following the tips below can help your partner understand your perspective and open up to the possibility of couples therapy.
Prepare for Possible Excuses
It can be frustrating when your spouse refuses therapy. You may analyze their refusal and wish they would just listen to you. But, unfortunately, it's rarely that easy. Although there are many reasons why someone might not want to attend counseling, the following are the most common:
- Your partner may feel they will be blamed for all the problems in the marriage or relationship.
- They may fear being embarrassed in front of a counselor.
- They might believe that couples should be able to resolve their own problems.
- The cost of therapy may be a concern.
- They may not want to fight in front of a counselor.
- If you have been to marriage counseling or couples counseling in the past, your partner might feel it didn't work.
- They may have different opinions about the relationship and think that you're the one who needs counseling.
- In their opinion, a therapist might not be able to provide further insights.
- They may feel like the relationship is not that bad.
Consider the Benefits
If your partner is reluctant to attend couples therapy, you might consider sharing the following benefits:
Therapy can help you clarify your feelings about the relationship.
Understanding how we feel about our partner can sometimes be confusing. While some couples know they want to work on issues and stay together, others may be unsure whether they want to continue the relationship.
Having a weekly time and space for you and your partner to communicate can help you map out the direction you want to take. By offering an objective outside perspective, your therapist can guide you throughout this process, highlighting aspects of your relationship you may not be aware of.
Therapy can help overcome relationship barriers before they become impasses.
Arguing with your partner can either strengthen or weaken your relationship. Many couples seek couples counseling because they are struggling to address topics that have arisen in their relationship. For some, it may involve having children, while for others, it may relate to communication style. Having a private space to discuss these topics can help you improve your relationship by highlighting and understanding both points of view.
Maybe you are not arguing over big decisions but small things like taking out the trash or walking the dog. However, constantly arguing over trivial matters could indicate underlying issues that aren't being addressed. Through couples counseling, potential roadblocks can be addressed before they spiral into a stalemate.
Therapy can strengthen bonding and intimacy.
While some couples come to therapy for constant conflict, others may not argue at all. They may no longer talk or spend time together. They may cease to be intimate and choose to spend time away from home. It might feel like their spark has faded, and there's no way to rekindle it. In their minds, this is the nature of long-term relationships, and they reminisce about the passion they once shared.
Initially, relationships feel exciting because both parties are making an effort. Dates are frequent, and couples spend time talking with one another. Over time, routine and comfort set in, and date nights become relaxing at home and watching TV. When couples attend therapy, their relationship is given some much-needed attention, which can spark passion.
Inviting Your Partner to Couples Counseling
Despite these proven benefits, persuading your partner to attend marriage counseling can sometimes be difficult. If you are struggling to convince your partner that marriage counseling may be helpful, don't lose hope. Here are some strategies to get you started.
Be Open and Honest About Your Problems
Communication is essential to a healthy marriage, but so is choosing your battles. People sometimes convince themselves that something isn't a big deal in order to avoid starting a fight or out of fear of looking irrational to their partner. They brush it under the rug and let it slide. They go months without bringing it up and feel it's too late for it to matter. However, small things can build up and become a huge barrier to communication.
When communication breaks down, you might be concerned that suggesting therapy will send the wrong message to your partner. In most cases, however, your partner is probably aware of the problems in your relationship. In addition, being honest about your struggles can open the door to solution and healing.
Don't Point Fingers
It can be tempting to play the blame game when things aren't going well. However, in most troubled relationships, both parties are at fault. No one is perfect, and there is a good chance both of you contributed to the breakdown of your relationship.
When trying to convince your partner to begin therapy, try not to point fingers and place blame. Instead, tell your partner you care about them and want to improve the relationship. There is a good chance they want to improve your relationship as well. Avoiding blame can prevent defensiveness and make them more open to your thoughts and feelings.
Try Not to Get Defensive
Bringing up counseling to your spouse may cause them to become defensive. This is expected. They may feel you're trying to blame them for an unhappy relationship. They may begin projecting their experiences from previous failed relationships onto you.
While defending yourself against their criticism may be tempting, avoid doing so. Being defensive can exacerbate communication problems and escalate conflict without needing to. Instead, remain calm and avoid raising your voice.
Let Them Decide on Their Own
While you might convince your reluctant spouse to attend counseling, that doesn't mean they are interested in discussing their relationship. Instead, they may be just going along with it and aren't ready to work on your relationship.
Even if you want to go to couples counseling, make sure you communicate with your spouse that they do not have to attend. Let them decide for themselves. When they say yes, you'll know they're committed and ready to make an effort.
Don't expect your partner to change their mind overnight. Let your spouse think about the possibility of seeking couples counseling. Your partner may just need some time to consider it before accepting.
Revisit the idea by asking, "Can we discuss couples therapy, or do you need more time to think about it?" This reduces the pressure while still remaining open.
The main reason why people quit therapy is that they don't feel it's working. If you're fighting over the same issues, why bother? At this point, it's wasting time and money. However, progress is not always linear, particularly when you're going through therapy. Marriage counseling does not solve your problems immediately. It provides tools for improving communication and assists you in resolving conflicts.
To get the most out of therapy, set clear goals and communicate what you hope to accomplish with your spouse. Identify benchmarks you can use to measure progress. For example, you and your partner may want to have fewer fights, reduce the intensity of arguments, increase physical intimacy, or have more date nights. Your goals should be collaborative and reflect both of your desires.
Choose a Therapist Together
It's not uncommon for one spouse to seek counseling before the other. However, it can create a situation where the unwilling spouse just goes along with it. Choosing a therapist on your own might feel like you and your therapist are conspiring against your spouse.
Instead, involve your spouse in selecting a therapist. Research together and determine if your partner has any criteria for finding a qualified therapist.
If your partner is still unwilling to participate in couples counseling, try counseling yourself. Working with a therapist can help you gain a fresh perspective on the issues in your marriage and how to approach them. Your partner may even notice your progress and decide to join you.
Online Marriage Counseling
Whether your relationship is experiencing frequent arguments, you want to repair trust after an affair, or you just want to improve intimacy and communication, couples counseling can be an effective tool to help you achieve those goals.
CHE Behavioral Health Services provides compassionate care for couples facing crises, needing help changing troublesome behaviors, or just wanting to improve their relationship overall. Our providers create a space of trust and safety for you and your significant other, allowing you to be vulnerable and listen to one another.
For more information about couples counseling at CHE Behavioral Health Services, please call 888-515-3834. We are ready to talk, and ready to listen.