When you tell your spouse you want to go to couples therapy; they are likely to say no. With these suggestions, you can get over their resistance.
Couples therapy, relationship therapy, and marriage therapy can help you overcome your challenges. Marriage therapists can provide the space needed when both sides are ready to confront the obstacles and work together to develop win-win solutions in marriage therapy.
Consider the following two points. To begin with, relationships are not better if they are conflict-free; in fact, all relationships should naturally include some level of conflict. Secondly, the goal of conflict isn’t to resolve it. The goal of conflict is to get a better understanding of your partner.
Couples often lack the communication skills and resources necessary to work through even the most treatable issues in their relationship. Taking a course on positive conflict resolution* helps build a stable foundation in your relationship, which encourages the elimination of unresolved difficulties, bad relationship practices, and emotional detachment.
At this point, you are most likely the partner looking for assistance because you understand the value of expert relationship advice. However, your other half is refusing to come, regardless of how you spin the benefits of couples therapy.
When you ask your spouse: “Do you want to go to couples therapy?” and they say no, it’s definitely discouraging. For a moment, let’s look beyond the “no”, and the reasons behind it. Your partner could have a misunderstanding about couples therapy. They could be afraid of exposing their weaknesses to you or feeling completely vulnerable. Maybe they have already given couples therapy a go in their previous relationship, and they ended up being a punching bag for their spouse.
*View our selected course, a 4-hour online guidance on positive conflict resolution called transformative communication course to create an extraordinary relationship.
Don’t wait for it to get bad
Some couples may utilize marriage therapy as a last attempt to improve their relationship rather than as a preventive measure. “Couples generally wait six years before seeking treatment with their relationship problems,” according to Dr. John M. Gottman, an American psychological researcher, and clinician, who carried out studies on thousands of couples.
After one spouse has already become emotionally withdrawn from the relationship, they may call the marriage therapist. As a result, it’s a considerable difficulty. When both feet are already out the door, it’s pretty challenging to persuade someone to commit to anything. Indeed, one or both partners’ lack of commitment might be a factor in a therapy’s failure.
There is, however, hope for couples who are prepared to commit and work through their challenges. “Even a marriage that is ready to reach rock bottom may be saved with the correct intervention,” says Dr. Gottman.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with a plan for encouraging your spouse to attend couples therapy using their free will. You’ll also discover some couples therapy strategies that you can use right now to strengthen your relationship.
Couples Therapy Step 1: Make an Emotional Connection.
During an argument with your spouse, saying something like “We need serious assistance” is not likely to get your spouse to go to couples therapy or marriage therapy. Getting upset and manipulating them into attending will weaken the therapy’s efficacy.
When and how you bring up the concept must be considered. As you’ll discover in couples therapy, the effectiveness of an argument is determined by how you argue with one another, not the content of the flight itself. When a partner begins a discussion forcefully, it will almost always conclude with both sides angry.
It’s critical that you emotionally connect with your spouse before contemplating couples therapy. Make them feel valued, cared for, and heck maybe you even have some fun with each other! Here are some suggestions:
- Watch a comedy show together
- Prepare a meal with them
- Play a game of cards or do a round of miniature golf
- Make a list of five qualities about your partner that you admire and share your results
You’ll make your spouse feel important by doing so, which in turn will encourage them to be more open, relaxed, and responsive with you.
When you do have this chat about couples therapy, make sure it is at a time when they are available. It’s best not to do it just before work or when our partner is anxious or in a rush. It will be easier if they are more calm and relaxed.
Couples Therapy Step 2: Initiating the Discussion
Now is the moment to inquire if they want to discuss your relationship. Here are 3 examples to get to talking with your boo:
- “Honey, I’d like to talk to you about what you want out of our relationship.”
- “I want you to believe that you are enough for me, that you are accepted for who you are, and that this is a great opportunity for us.”
- “Would you be interested in having a brief chat with me?”
It’s important to note that when you use one of these phrases, make sure you speak in a gentle manner that focuses on sharing your experience throughout the process. It will help to keep your spouse at ease and avoid bringing out their defensive behavior.
If your spouse has a tendency to avoid relationship talk, use the steps above as a guide to writing a letter to them. This letter can be highly beneficial since it allows them time to think and go ahead on their terms. However, the letter should be written so that it invites rather than replaces a dialogue.
When pitching the idea of attending couples therapy, it’s best to concentrate on speaking at no more than three sentences at a time. Then stop, allowing your spouse time and space to reply.
Anxious lovers prefer talking things out, but they tend to repeat themselves for 10 to 15 minutes before giving their spouse a chance to respond when left alone. It will ruin your chances of getting your spouse to listen to you since they will feel overwhelmed and excluded from what seems to be a one-sided discussion.
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Couples Therapy Step 3: Identify the Differences
Focus on understanding more about your partner’s perspective on the relationship. What do they want now that you’ve both sat down to talk? If they don’t know what they want out of the relationship and can’t understand how therapy would help them better connect with you, it will be hard to persuade them to go to couples therapy.
Start the conversation with a question. “Sweetheart, what would our relationship feel like for you if things were going well?; What should we do more of, and what should we step away from?; How might we go about doing things differently?”
“I want you to quit starting all these fights,” your spouse could remark. “You always seem to have a problem.”
If your spouse begins blaming you, recognize that it’s a manifestation of their grief, and look for the “hidden need,” as Dr. Gottman describes it. Remember, people in pain inflict pain on others. Focus on non-judgmental listening by reflecting on and empathizing with your partner’s underlying sentiments and asking open-ended questions to grasp better what they’re saying.
Respond to any charges with a kind and curious tone. “I hear you claim that our constant fighting burns you out. I’m in the same boat. How do you think our relationship would change if we solved our issues and stopped arguing all the time?”
Once you’ve figured out what your partner wants from the relationship, look into what’s keeping it from being that way right now, and know that relationship therapy can help.
“I completely realize how exhausting all of this conflict is for you. What do you believe is preventing us from having fewer conflicts, addressing our difficulties, and enjoying each other more in our relationship?”
Listen to them without becoming defensive about what they perceive is getting in the way. It may differ from your findings. That’s quite typical. Focus on pondering on what your spouse is saying, empathizing, and asking additional open-ended questions if you don’t understand the obstacles your spouse is expressing.
Couples Therapy Step 4: Repair the Couples’ Division
You now want to bridge the gap between your current situation and the sort of relationship you and your partner want.
When doing so, keep the talk focused on how you want to enhance your relationship rather than how you wish to change your spouse. Nobody wants to be told that they need to be “fixed.” The issue is often not the person but the patterns of interaction that couples build together.
Instead of saying, “You’re a damaged partner who needs treatment,” emphasize that relationship therapy is about altering the habits, restoring your link, and improving your partnership.
In terms of what both of you desire for the relationship, list the advantages of marriage therapy to your spouse, and what your reality could look like today if you had gone to counseling and expressed your concerns with a marriage therapist.
Here’s an example: “Sweetheart, I’d like for us to go to couples therapy to improve our communication. I’m looking forward to it because I believe it will help me learn more about you and be a better partner. I believe that if we do it, we will have fewer disagreements, have more sex, and be happy in each other’s company. Would that be the kind of connection you’re looking for as well?”
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Couples Therapy Step 5: Make an Invitation.
You’ve made it to the final step- hoorah! It’s time to make your move. Openly ask them to do couples therapy or marriage therapy with you, without putting any pressure on them to do so. Rather than forcing our partners to join us, we want to ask them to join us.
Requests become demands when our partner feels they will be blamed or punished if they don’t cooperate. Our partners feel that they are trapped when they are left with “two options: submission or revolt”.
As a result, you should propose couples therapy as an option. “I adore you, and our bond is essential to me. Couples therapy, I believe, might help us stop arguing and become closer and happy together. I’d love for you to join me, but you also have the option to decline.”
If they say yes, show them some love, and tell them, “I’m determined to become a better partner so we can produce more of what we want in our relationship.”
If they ask you a question, try your best to answer it, and if you’re not sure, say, “I’m not 100% sure. Let’s do a Google search or go to a marriage therapist to get some ideas.”
Don’t take your displeasure out on them if they say no. Instead, say something like, “Thank you for having an open and honest discussion with me.”
They will be surprised since they are expecting punishment and pressure.
Getting around no
If your spouse says no, express your respect for their decision and your desire to learn why.
You can say something along the lines of: “Would you be prepared to explain why you’ve decided against marriage therapy? I believe that it would be quite beneficial, and I realize you may disagree, so could you kindly explain?”
It’s imperative to make every effort to address their problems openly and honestly without putting them under any pressure. If you believe you’ve reached their issues, ask, “Would you be prepared to explore attending couples therapy with me after your issues have been addressed?”
Allow the discussion to stop if they continue to say no, and remind them that you accept their decision and love them. Your companion will most likely think about it for a few days.
Patience is required. If you respect your partner’s decision to go to couples therapy or marriage therapy, they may change their mind. Concentrate on becoming the relationship’s change agent. It’s possible that doing so will encourage them to want to work with you more. A change in your conduct, as 50% of the partnership, has incredible potential to improve the relationship overall.
Listen without deciding how to react to your partner’s problems. Reflect on their worries or comments. Ask them two questions: “Is there another reason you don’t want to try it?” and “Do you believe I understand your concerns?” if they indicate there is a disconnect between your understanding and their understanding of the matter at hand, then you can bridge the gap of your communication.
Verifying that you understand them can help you establish trust. This can also help to understand your partner’s viewpoint during relationship therapy. Above all, sympathize with your partner’s suffering, frustrations, and concerns.
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Couples Therapy: Common Concerns
And here’s how you can react:
- We can’t afford it: “Let’s find a marriage therapist with lesser costs or become inventive with alternative costs we can eliminate to go to therapy.”
- I don’t need treatment: “Would you be open to attending a workshop instead of marriage therapy?” If you and your spouse attend a session and the techniques you learned aren’t being put into practice, it’s a beautiful time to bring up private couples therapy for more specialized help.
- You and the marriage therapist will team up on me. “That is not true. I’m in this relationship, and the marriage therapist will be a neutral third party who won’t take sides. I’m sure there are things I can improve in our relationship, and I’m looking forward to the marriage therapist pointing them out.”
Remember that you want your spouse to feel like they have a voice in this decision, not that they were forced into relationship therapy.
Marriage therapy is quite beneficial. Most marriage therapists are happy to address any questions or concerns you and your spouse may have before starting.
To depart – extraordinary relationships
Love and connection are fundamental needs. Love is life’s oxygen. It’s what we all crave and want the most. We feel alive when we love entirely, yet the anguish of losing love is so enormous that most people settle just for connection, the crumbs of love.
You must begin with yourself if you want to develop a special connection with your spouse. Remember, a relationship isn’t about receiving; it’s about giving — giving your full attention, giving your energy, giving your affection, and giving your heart. The beauty of giving this much is that you receive much more in return.
Cultivate a sense of pleasure, passion, trust, and closeness that outlasts any barrier or hardship that comes your way. The worst periods in your relationship’s journey can be seen as a blessing in disguise, a gift that enables you and your spouse to grow as a team.
We wish you all the love!
NOTE: Make sure your spouse understands that the marriage therapist is a skilled professional specializing in couples therapy. If you are looking for an experienced couples therapist, take a look at our selected course, a 4-hour online guidance on positive conflict resolution called transformative communication.