If you think you and your spouse or long term partner could benefit from some couples counseling, you may be on to a very good idea. Many couples have worked through issues, learned to communicate and express their feelings better, and strengthened their relationships by talking to an independent and professionally trained person. However, it can be hard to raise the subject, and not everyone is open to the idea of seeking professional help for private matters. Here is some advice if you want to persuade your partner that going for counseling sessions would benefit you both:
Don’t Raise It During an Argument
Some people take suggestions of marriage counseling as a criticism of how they are ‘performing’ as a partner. This makes them feel defensive, and like they are being judged. Of course, this makes them far less receptive to the idea, and they can also begin to feel insecure that you consider the relationship to be in trouble. To minimize the chances of them taking it in this way, never raise the matter during an argument, or when you are upset. You shouldn’t make it feel like you want to go to counseling because of something they have said or done in a given moment, but as a means to generally improve your relationship.
Naturally, some situations are different, for example if you want to seek counseling to help your relationship get over an instance of infidelity, it is natural that you won’t be on an even footing in deciding to do it. However, in most cases where you just want to improve communication and reduce friction, it is more constructive to raise it as something that stands to make your relationship ‘even better’, rather than to correct one sided issues.
Consider Their Objections
If your partner objects at first, don’t just write this off as being stubborn. Try to find out just why they are uncomfortable with the idea, and give them reassurance or information to help assuage their concerns. Perhaps they feel that you don’t need it, because they think counseling is for couples on the brink of divorce. If that is the case, assure them that many people who are in strong, stable relationships go to counseling to keep working to keep their relationships strong. Maybe they don’t like the idea of talking to a stranger about personal things. In this case, you could show them some research into why counseling is effective. Try and understand where they are coming from, rather than pushing through their concerns.
Think About Other Options
Some people simply aren’t comfortable with the idea of going to therapy sessions, but you don’t need to give up. You can also consider the option of online marriage counseling. This would allow your partner to feel things were a bit more private and discrete, which may be enough to persuade them to give it a try.
Remember that one of the points of counseling is to improve communication. So try and make sure the way you communicate and how much you are willing to compromise while trying to persuade your partner to attend is already showing you moving in the right direction.