What to do if your partner rejects the idea of couples counselling?

Maggie Morrow Award Winning Therapist
Author: Maggie Morrow, Award Winning Psychotherapist, Counsellor & Life Coach
Last updated: 23rd September 2021

Annoyed couple ignoring each other

When things go wrong in a relationship and you don’t know what to do to improve things, couples therapy can help you find a way forward. Perhaps you’re not communicating as well as you used to or are arguing all the time? Maybe it feels as if you’re drifting apart or there’s been a break of trust – whatever it is, something doesn’t feel good.

At KlearMinds, our specially trained relationship and marriage counsellors can help you understand where things are going wrong and what steps you can take to rebuild a future together that feels fulfilling and fun for both of you.

Which is all very well, you may say, but what if your partner doesn’t want to go? Whether they are in denial about the poor state of your relationship, blame you for the difficulties you are having as a couple, or refuse to share private problems with a stranger, it can be frustrating if they reject the idea of seeking professional help out of hand.

It is important to understand that making the choice to have counselling for your relationship issues is a huge step, and not everyone is comfortable with the idea. Of course, even if you partner won’t take part, it is still possible to get them to respond differently by making simple changes in your own behaviour. But in order to achieve the best possible outcome, it is preferable that both partners are fully engaged in therapy.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common concerns about relationship counselling and some ideas on how to approach this sensitive topic with your other half.

‘There’s nothing really wrong with our relationship’

If your partner doesn’t see any major problems and is broadly happy with things as they are, they may not see the point in having counselling – even if you do. But here’s the thing: you don’t have to go to therapy because of major issues. Many couples take the opportunity to prioritise the relationship and make what you have even better. In the same way that you would take your car for an annual MOT, it cannot hurt to check in with your relationship too.

‘I don’t want to hurt his/her feelings’

Are you unhappy in your relationship and worry that talking to your partner about getting professional help will upset them? Maybe you suggested it before and got a negative reaction? The danger is that by not being able to have important conversations, nothing will change and the relationship will slowly deteriorate. Try reassuring your partner that you want to try counselling to improve things so you can have the best possible relationship with each other.

‘I don’t want to provoke another argument’

Keeping quiet because you are worried about your partner’s reaction is not a good strategy to manage your relationship. If you are struggling with constant heated arguments and angry outbursts, perhaps suggest that having a third party present can soften the intensity of the arguments and give both of you a chance to speak and feel heard. Reassure your other half that you are committed to the relationship and want to do whatever you can to make it better.

‘S/he doesn’t believe in counselling’

Many people are anxious or sceptical about counselling as a positive relationship tool. Perhaps they’ve had an unhelpful experience in the past or feel uneasy sharing their innermost thoughts in front of a stranger. Some people strongly believe that if a relationship is meant to be, it shouldn’t need any help. Once you know why your partner is so against the idea, you can start to challenge their assumptions and encourage them to open their mind.

It may be difficult to encourage a reluctant partner to come along to a couple’s therapy session, but here are some possible avenues you could pursue:

• Ask why they are against the idea of relationship counselling? Did they have a bad experience? Do they think therapy leads to divorce? You may be able to address their objections with empathy and patience.
• Ask what kind of therapist they would prefer. Would they feel more comfortable talking to a man or woman? Counsellor or psychologist? Marriage guidance counsellor or family therapist? Any age or race preference? What about religion?
• Ask what time and location would work best for sessions. Would they prefer in-person sessions or online counselling? Overcome practical obstacles by offering your partner convenient choices.
• Ask if they would be willing to look at some counselling websites, or read a book or blog post written by a therapist. You could watch a YouTube video together or attend a lecture given by a therapist on a relevant relationship topic.
• Ask if they would be OK to talk to a couple of counsellors over the phone, or go to an initial no-obligations meeting with a therapist? It’s an opportunity for both of you to discuss the problems you are encountering and see if you can build a useful rapport with a couple’s counsellor.

Above all, your partner should understand how much it would mean to you if they agreed to do some of the things mentioned above. Let them know how much happier and encouraged it would make you feel and, conversely, how sad you would feel if they chose not to engage.

What happens at your first appointment?

Your first appointment with KlearMinds provides an opportunity for each of you to identify the difficulties you are experiencing within the relationship. Our therapist will help you set specific goals and start a process of open and constructive communication. Rest assured that all couples counselling sessions are handled confidentially, sensitively and without bias, and you won’t be judged on your personal situation or sexual preference.

It is entirely normal for both partners to feel apprehensive at the first meeting. Our highly experienced marriage counselling and couples’ therapists will help facilitate dialogue by listening to both parties equally, understand the problems you are facing and help you communicate more effectively with each other. We will help you develop a new, empowering level of understanding to build lasting trust and create a positive future for your relationship. Contact us today to find out more.

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