“Our marriage needs help but my husband won’t go to therapy.”
I’ve heard this statement often and it is usually filled with frustration, sadness and sometimes anger. A relationship is in trouble but one spouse refuses to get help.
If a marriage is going to be helped, both people need to go to therapy. Men are typically the ones who aren’t keen on the idea. For one thing, therapy tends to be talk-oriented, making some men uncomfortable since women talk more about their feelings.
So how do you overcome an unwilling partner when it comes to attending couples therapy? Here are 10 tips:
1) Stress the ACTION of therapy. The purpose is to make change and practice new ways of doing things, not simply talk. Yes, feelings will be discussed, but therapy involves action steps to change.
2) Talk ahead of time about the purpose of therapy. Therapy is not a place to fight or blame. A good therapist interrupts the problem patterns and helps you have a positive experience in the room with the hope that news ways of behaving will carry over outside of therapy.
3) Talk ROI (Return On Investment). If you put the time and effort into marital therapy, the results are good. Trained therapist know how to move people from problems to success.
4) Focus on taking responsibility for your own behavior. The purpose is NOT to change the other person.
5) Discuss what changes you would both like to see. Be specific like improve your sex life, do more activities together, etc. Be concrete about what you expect to see at the end of the process.
6) Don’t threaten divorce or separation as a reason to go to therapy. Stay positive and go because you believe that changes can be made and the marriage can be better for both of you.
7) Find two or three referrals and discuss which one looks the best. Sometimes by doing the work ahead and having options, the other person will be more willing to go.
8) Remind yourselves that relationships are work because they invoke skills. If you want to get better at something, you often need a coach or mentor. A therapist can provide that function and help you be a better you!
9) Change your thinking from “I” to “We.” Think of yourself as a couple, not just two individuals with issues. What do you bring to the table that helps or hinders the relationship?
10) Stay humble. No one is good at everything. And many of us need help with our relationships. If you humble yourself enough to say, “Yes, we need help,” the possibilities are endless.