Portland Relationship Counseling: Getting a Reluctant Partner to Come

July 1, 2015 by

Making the decision to seek guidance in counseling is a defining moment in your relationship. Couples therapy can be a powerful move towards saving a troubled union, healing hurts, or simply helping a healthy relationship grow even healthier.

But the most effective couples counseling requires input and cooperation from both of you. So what do you do if your partner refuses to join you in relationship counseling?

Whether your partner is embarrassed, skeptical, or adamantly opposed to the idea of counseling in general, convincing a reluctant partner to try marriage counseling out can be tough. Below, I’ve listed some steps for persuading your partner to give counseling a shot.

Choose the right moment. It’s rarely a good idea to bring up marriage counseling when the two of you are fighting. Instead, try to wait for a time when you are both getting along to ask your partner about attending counseling. Your partner is more likely to have an open mind when he or she is calm, and is less likely to see your suggestion as a threat or attack.

Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Your spouse may be more open to your suggestion if you allow yourself to become vulnerable rather than judgmental or controlling. Talk to your partner openly about your concerns, explaining how much you value your relationship and want to help make it stronger.

Don’t point fingers. You may feel your partner’s actions and behaviors are to blame, but making accusations will only put your partner on defense. You should try to be constructive in your statements, and admit to the role you may have played in creating relationship problems, however small.

Offer a compromise. Instead of trying to sell a skeptical partner on marriage counseling, ask them to join you in counseling as a favor to you. If your partner is still reluctant, you could offer them a favor in return.

Present the facts. Your partner may be reluctant to attend counseling because of a misconstrued idea of what counseling is. Help him or her understand that marriage counseling is incredibly common among modern day couples—you don’t have to be crazy, depressed, or troubled to attend. And marriage counselors are not there to take sides or punish, but rather to serve as an impartial guide towards a happier and healthier relationship. Any insight, reading materials, and “homework” you can present your partner can help!

Talk to your counselor. If your spouse is still reluctant to accompany you, this doesn’t mean you can’t seek help in Portland relationship counseling on your own! Relationships can benefit even if just one seek help alone. In Portland relationship counseling, I’m happy to teach individuals practical skills for problem solving and improving their relationship—partner may join when they are ready.