When Your Partner is Resistant to Marriage Counseling
The most popular view of marriage counseling is as a last resort for couples who want to save a marriage is falling apart. This makes it hard to figure out what to do if you just want some advice on how to make your relationship work, or if you feel as though you’re having problems but your partner doesn’t think that marriage counseling is a good idea. What most people don’t know is that marriage counselors are more than just relationship salvage crews; they can help you even if you’re not in serious trouble or if your spouse doesn’t want to show up.
Feeling Resistant to Therapy
In the majority of marriages, one or both partners feel that counseling isn’t appropriate. This can occur because the process is seen as too inconvenient, too expensive, or only for people who have tried everything else. It’s harder for most couples to get help for their relationship problems than it is for individuals to see a therapist for anxiety, depression and other problems.
Your initial response to the idea of marriage counseling, especially if you’d have to go by yourself, may be negative. Try to overcome this feeling. After all, there’s nothing wrong with getting help if it feels like things are starting to go off the rails. If your partner won’t get on board with the idea of therapy, be willing to go it alone, at least at first. There’s a good chance you’ll end up going as a couple eventually.
When to Seek Counseling
Marriage counseling isn’t just for people who feel like things are about to fall apart. In fact, it can provide a much greater benefit if you seek out a therapist before major marital strife occurs. That’s because it’s easier to fix conflicts if you don’t feel like you’re at the end of your rope. A regular “marriage checkup” could help you avoid situations that lead to unhappiness and divorce. Remember: you don’t have to stay in counseling if you feel like it’s not working for you, but it can feel difficult to get into if things get really bad.
Going It Alone
Couples therapy is much more effective if both people attend, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options if your partner is feeling resistant. You can start seeing a therapist on your own and use the assistance of an objective outside person to solve problems in your relationship. The same thing holds true for situations where you start therapy as a couple, but one partner stops being interested. Your therapist can still help you figure out how to be happy in the relationship, even if you’re the only one present.
Making the Most of Non-traditional Models
Even therapists still subscribe to the model of marriage counseling as a fix for last resorts, so you’ll need to pay attention to a few things if your situation is different. Look for a counselor who has a lot of experience with couples, rather than a traditional individual counselor. Find someone who is interested in evidence-based approaches that will help you change your current situation instead of someone who prefers looking at the past. Avoid coercing your partner to come to therapy, but do encourage them; you can even share some of the insights you learn. You may be surprised by how much better your relationship becomes.