How To Talk To Your Partner About Couples Therapy

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Dr. Chris Tickner

It’s a difficult discussion to have. No doubt. You’re not happy. You think they’re not happy. Something isn’t working. And you know that doing some couples therapy would probably really help. But you have a hunch they are not on board. Here are three helpful tips to talk about couples therapy with your partner.

Bring It Up When You’re Both Calm

When you’re angry, frustrated, resentful or hopeless is the exact wrong time to talk about going to couples therapy! And yet we do it all the time. If you bring it up in the heat of the battle, your partner will naturally want to resist and push back. Instead, wait until a time when you guys are at peace. Maybe during a meal, or just before sitting down or just after watching a movie. Set the scene, but don’t be fake about it. Make good eye contact, hold hands, speak softly and gently. Make it safe and approachable for your partner.

Make It About You

We all blame our significant others all the time. Like it or not, it’s just human. Don’t feel bad about it. And, don’t use your partner’s shortcomings as a reason to go into couples therapy. Make it about you. Talk about how you are suffering, what you know you want to change about how you are in the relationship. “Honey, I am really struggling with being nice lately, I know that. And I could really use some help, and I think one way that would really work is if you would come with me to do some couples work.” “I have not been available to you. I know that. And I’m sorry. There’s something going on and I don’t think we can figure it out without some help. Would you do some marriage counseling with me?”

Predict Resistance, And Add Support

You know your partner better than anybody else on this planet. Predict why they might be unwilling to go to therapy with you. What’s underneath that for them? What can you do or say to help them overcome that fear or concern. Here is a list of the usual suspects along with an antidote for each.

We can’t afford it!I was worried about the cost, but I did some research and I think we can make it work. It’s so important.
I don’t want to be vulnerable, or talk about hard stuff.I’ve been hesitant to even want to do this becuase I know it’s going to be hard. We’re going to have to say and feel difficult things. But I also know that there are really good, geunine, and caring therapists out there who see this all the time.
I don’t have the time.We’re both so busy, I think we can figure out a time to make this work. I can shift my yoga class on Wednesdays because I know you are free then.
We don’t need some stranger telling us what to do. We can do this on our own.I think it will be hard at first, getting used to someone else seeing our dirty laundry. But I also know that there are some things that we have struggled with for years, and without some expert help, I’m concerned about what might happen.

Bottom Line

Your relationship is the most important thing in your life. And it deserves care and attention. With just a little forethought and planning, you can find a way to approach this difficult topic in away that will feel loving and supportive. As a couples therapist in Pasadena, CA, I find that once reluctant partners sit down in session, or even have a free video consultation with me, they are much more likely to want to come. Let me know if I can help!

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