5 Tips to Talk to Your Partner About Starting Couples Counseling
Couples counseling has been shown to help couples work through their issues to help improve their relationship. A skilled and licensed couples counselor can provide you and your partner the space to finally talk about the issues that you have been struggling with in a safe space. Together you can learn how to build better communication skills, improve your intimacy, and strengthen their bond. A couples counselor can give you the tools needed to accomplish those goals.
For many couples, the idea of couples counseling feels like a game changer. They want to improve their relationship, but there is one problem. They must convince their partner to come.
I am sure you feel the same way. You have realized that things in your relationship have changed, and you want to fix it before things get worse. Problem is, you must talk with your partner, and you don’t know how they will take it.
As a couples counselor, I hear it time and time again: “We really need couples therapy, but I don’t think my partner will be open to it” or “they don’t realize how bad things are. I am ready to leave.” It can be a big barrier in a lot of relationships, when one person isn’t happy and feels that their partner is not willing to work on it. That only leads to more disconnect and resentment, which leads to divorce/separation.
Most relationship issues can be resolved. Healing can start but it requires both parties to be on board. Not all is lost though… otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this blog.
So, for those that are ready to start couples therapy and aren’t sure if their partner wants to join, here are some tips for you:
Communicate your feelings:
Find a time where you can have an uninterrupted conversation so that you guys can speak openly and honestly. Start by telling your partner how you feel and why you think couples counseling would be beneficial. Be honest, direct, and respectful. Avoid blaming or criticizing your partner. Not sure exactly what you want to say? Write it out, but make sure to use “I” statements and not “you” statements. For example, “I feel overwhelmed with everything in the house” versus “You don’t help me enough.” Through this conversation, it is important to understand that you might not get the immediate response that you want, and that’s ok. Consider scheduling a later time to follow up, so that your partner can think things through and not feel pressured.
Listen to your partner:
Listen to your partner's concerns and objections. Try to understand their perspective and address their fears or reservations about counseling. Make notes as to what their concerns could be so that you can potentially discuss them during your consultation call with a couples therapist. This will allow you to find the best fit if they choose to move forward.
For example, if your partner is concerned about finances and the time commitment, you can ask a potential couples therapist their fees and average length of therapy. You can also discuss any potential concerns that they may have about what therapy could look like. Make sure that they understand that both of you need to make changes to make the relationship work.
Highlight the benefits:
Highlight the benefits for both of you, not just yourself. This is where “we/us” statements come into play. Many partners might feel that they will be the only one that needs to change, and that’s simply not how couples therapy works. Let them know that you also need guidance on how to improve and a couples counselor can help you do that.
Couples counseling can help with the following:
increasing intimacy and connection,
and addressing specific issues like infidelity, trust, or parenting disagreements
Find a counselor together:
Look for a counselor together and involve your partner in the process. Find a counselor that you both feel comfortable with and who specializes in the issues you want to work on. Ask your partner if they have any preferences when it comes to couples counseling. Do they prefer male or female? In-person or online?
Be patient with your partner and don't push them into counseling. It's important that they feel comfortable and willing to participate in the process. Couples counseling will ONLY work if BOTH partners are willing to work in the relationship.
So, while you may want to push them to start couples counseling, it is important for them to be on board. Otherwise, you won’t get the results you are seeking, and it may taint your image of couples counseling moving forward. Remember, couples counseling is most effective when both partners are willing to participate and committed to making positive changes in the relationship.
If your partner isn’t ready or open to couples counseling, it is possible to seek relationship counseling individually. Sounds weird, but it is possible. I have worked with many clients who wanted to seek couples counseling, but their partner wasn’t open to it. While they were initially disappointed, once they started making positive changes, it opened the door for their partner to see the benefits of therapy. That allowed them to have an even deeper conversation about their relationship and couples counseling was back on the table.
I understand that no one is “happy” to come into therapy (I don’t take offense to it lol), it can really change lives and relationships for the better. Hopefully there will come a day where we don’t have to convince our loved ones to attend but until then, don’t let the stigma of couples counseling hold you back from a happy relationship.
If you need more support in your relationship from an expert couples counselor, contact me for your complimentary consultation at 954-391-5305. I’d be happy to discuss how I can help you improve your relationship.
I provide counseling for adults and couples at our beautiful Coral Springs and Fort Lauderdale offices and across the state of Florida via online therapy through our secure telehealth platform. For more information about my services, click here.
I look forward to speaking with you!