Do you feel like your relationship is on the rocks? Are you willing to do what it takes to save it?
I think you are since you are obviously interested in seeking couples counselling to save and strengthen your relationship! This is great, but how do you go about convincing your partner to join you?
It’s actually less about convincing and more about approaching the topic with love and sensitivity. Keep reading to find out how you can talk to your partner about starting couples counselling:
Be Clear About Your Issues and Set Clear Goals
Before you can approach your partner about your issues, you need to have a clear idea of what they are first. Take some time to really think about what is bothering you and the challenges you face in your relationship.
It’s also worth establishing some clear goals you would like to achieve. Are you looking to improve communication? Your sex life?
Having goals will help you feel as if you and your partner are accomplishing something during couples counselling. Otherwise, you and your partner may feel that you are wasting your time and your money.
When you do approach your partner about seeing a therapist, communicate your goals. If your partner is on the same page, they are more likely to agree to see a couples counsellor with you.
Choose the Right Moment to Bring It Up
Choosing the right moment to bring it up is key in convincing your partner to start couples counselling.
If you are considering couples therapy, it’s likely that you are frustrated with your relationship and your partner. However, in those moments of frustration and anger, it doesn’t help to throw in the idea of therapy.
This is a serious and sensitive topic, so you want to approach it when all parties are calm and less likely to get defensive (which we’ll talk about in a bit). Avoid bringing up the idea of couples counselling during an argument or a fight.
Find a time when you are getting along so that your suggestion doesn’t feel like a threat or blame. Frame the idea with the fact that these moments of getting along are valuable to the relationship and you fear losing these wonderful moments.
If you approach the conversation about therapy from a place of love and understanding, you’re more likely to get a positive response.
Make It An “Us” Thing
No one likes to be blamed for anything so it’s important to make your partner feel that therapy is a team effort and not an attempt to fix one person in the relationship. It’s important that your partner doesn’t feel attacked.
Ensure them that this is something that will benefit everyone and get both of you on the same page. Explain that professional therapists do not choose sides and they are simply there to help couples create their best relationships.
It would also help to tell your partner that you want to learn how to treat them better and work on improving aspects of the relationship such as communication, feeling understood, better sex, more confidence, and feeling connected.
Be sure that you take ownership in your relationship struggles. Your issues are a two-way street and the more you take responsibility the more likely your partner will be willing to try couples counselling.
Be Honest and Approach the Topic With Love
When I talked about the right time to mention therapy, I touched on the idea of approaching the topic with love. This, and being honest, are important if you’re trying to convince your partner to start couples counselling.
The foundation of a healthy relationship is built on open and honest communication.
It’s likely that your partner has recognized that your relationship is not ideal but if you simply throw therapy on the table, they may feel that you are not happy with them anymore and that the relationship is “broken”.
Being honest about your struggles to your partner, and communicating how much you love them and want to fix things, helps your partner feel that the relationship is still important and worth saving.
Don’t Place Blame on Your Partner
I touched on this as well but it’s worth mentioning again: Don’t blame your partner for your relationship issues.
As the saying goes: It takes two to tango. Nobody’s perfect and if you’re struggling in your relationship, you have both contributed to the situation in some way.
Pointing the finger while suggesting couples counselling will not work. Ensure your partner that you don’t care whose fault it is and that you want to make a personal effort to save the relationship and make it better.
Keeping blame out of the equation will keep your partner from getting defensive, which it what we’ll talk about next.
Don’t Get Defensive
When you mention the idea of couples therapy to your partner, they will likely get defensive. This is a natural reaction and one that you should avoid feeding into.
As a defense, they may turn the blame toward you. Your partner may project their shortcomings on you or make assumptions based on failed marriages they’ve witnessed.
You are going to feel the natural urge to defend yourself, but don’t do it. Becoming defensive is only going to make your communication problems worse and escalate the discussion into an argument or conflict.
Stay calm and let your partner say what they have to say. It may help to let the discussion rest for a bit before mentioning it again when you are both calm and relaxed.
Let Your Partner Make the Decision
You’ve already made the decision that you want to seek couples counselling to strengthen your relationship but there’s really no “convincing” your partner unless they choose to go as well.
As part of your discussion about couples counselling, make sure to tell your partner that they don’t have to do it. Simply list the benefits of therapy and you’re desired goals and let them make the final decision.
Don’t give them ultimatums or threaten to leave if they don’t comply. Coercing or manipulating your partner into therapy is not going to help at all.
It’s better to see a therapist later down the road when your partner is more open to the idea than to try and work through your issues with a stubborn partner who doesn’t want to be there.
Choose a Couples Therapist Together
In order for your partner to feel that they have an equal say in the decision to seek counselling, have them choose a couples therapist with you.
This will also help your partner feel less like they are being ganged up on.
If your partner is open to starting couples counselling, I invite both of you to get in touch with me or one of our trained psychotherapists today. We would love to meet with both of you to determine if we are a good fit.