Need Marriage Counseling? 4 Tips for Dealing with a Resistant Partner

Marriage counseling is a good investment for the future of your relationship, even before problems occur. If you have a partner who is not open to the suggestion of attending counseling, there are ways to help cope with your partner's resistance and possibly encourage them to reconsider.

Figure Out the Real Reason

Do not immediately assume your partner is resistant to the idea of counseling because they do not see problems in your relationship or are being defiant. Pick a time when both of you are relaxed and can be attentive to each other. Ask your partner directly why they do not want to attend counseling.

It is possible your partner views counseling as an imminent sign of divorce or they believe you should not discuss problems within a marriage with anyone outside of the relationship. Sometimes a direct question can open a dialogue. Underlying problems rooted in the past abuse, physical intimacy or illness can cause feelings of embarrassment or shame and make it difficult for your partner to open up about problems, especially to a stranger.

Avoid Threatening Language

It is easy to become frustrated with your partner when they are resistant to seeking outside help to fix marital problems. You need to figure out a way to bring up the subject in a way that seems non-threatening. Try explaining how you feel about the status of the relationship and why you think it is important to seek outside help. Tell your partner what you want to achieve by going to counseling.

Your partner is more likely to be open to hearing what you have to say when you are expressing your thoughts and feelings, rather than telling them what they are doing wrong or being critical.

Do not use ultimatums as a method of luring your partner into counseling. An ultimatum will likely make your partner more defensive and just spiral into another argument. Furthermore, if you need to use ultimatums for your partner to take relationship concerns seriously, this can be a sign you both value the relationship differently.

Go Alone

When your partner resists counseling, they may hope you will give up on the idea. Even if your partner refuses to attend counseling, keep your appointment and talk to the counselor one-on-one. Showing you are serious about counseling and are assertive enough to go alone is important. After speaking with your counselor about problems in the relationship, you and the counselor can formulate ideas that are more likely to make your partner less guarded about counseling.

Some partners are more likely to warm up to the idea when the topic does not create additional tension in the relationship. If you attend sessions alone and treat it like any other appointment, your partner may eventually become inquisitive about the process and want to attend. Maybe your partner would agree to marriage counseling if you each talked to separate counselors or had individual sessions. If your partner is willing to attend counseling sessions separately, as they become more comfortable with the process they might be willing to begin joint sessions.

Know When Enough Is Enough

The objective of marriage counseling is to help two people work through problems and to possibly save the marriage. Since you cannot force your partner to attend counseling, you will eventually need to decide what their resistance means for your relationship. A partner who is unwilling to work through problems will make the marriage difficult or impossible to maintain.

When your marriage could benefit from counseling, having a partner who is resistant to counseling can add more strain to the relationship. In some cases, using the right approach can help your partner warm up to the idea of counseling. Click here to start connecting with counselors and get the ball rolling.