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When You Want Couples Counseling but Your Partner Doesn’t

By: Ready Nest Intern, Ryann Christ


Relationships are complex and sometimes, the idea of seeking couples counseling might be met with hesitation, uncertainty, or even resistance from one partner. It's a common scenario faced by many couples. If you're in this situation, it's essential to approach your partner with understanding, patience, and open communication. Here’s a guide on what to do when you want couples counseling but your partner doesn't feel ready to take that step.


Statistics show that the utilization of couples counseling has been on the rise in recent years. According to the American Psychological Association, around 44% of couples have sought or considered therapy to improve their relationship. However, despite its increasing popularity, it's not uncommon for one partner to be hesitant or resistant.


Seek to Understand Your Partner's Hesitations


It's vital to acknowledge and understand your partner's reservations about counseling. Studies indicate that common reasons for reluctance include fear of being judged, concerns about the counselor taking sides, or worries about the effectiveness of therapy. These apprehensions can be significant barriers to starting the counseling journey together.


Tips for Approachable Communication

  1. Open Communication without Pressure: Start by having an open and non-confrontational conversation with your partner. Express your desire for counseling without applying pressure or making them feel coerced. Use "I" statements to convey your feelings, such as "I feel that couples counseling could help us communicate better and understand each other."

  2. Share the Potential Benefits: Highlight the potential positive outcomes of couples counseling. Emphasize the statistics showing the effectiveness of therapy in improving relationships. Sharing success stories or benefits can ease concerns about the process and its impact.

  3. Propose a Trial Period: Suggest a trial period for couples counseling, a few sessions to experience what it’s like. Assure your partner that it’s a low-pressure introduction, and if after this trial, they remain uncomfortable, you'll reconsider the approach. This easy to approach introduction allows them to witness potential benefits firsthand.

  4. Choose the Right Time: Start the conversation when both you and your partner are in a relaxed state and have sufficient time to have a calm, open conversation. Avoid initiating this conversation during periods of high stress or tension.


Approachable Tips for Navigating the Situation

  1. Understanding Their Perspective: Understanding your partner's hesitations is vital. Ask them to share their reasons for hesitating without aiming to change their mind. Identifying concerns is crucial to creating a safe space for open and honest conversations. It's about working together towards a solution that suits both of you.

  2. Master your Communication: When your partner isn't sold on couples therapy, avoid power struggles and express your feelings without letting the blame game get in the way. Statements like: I feel "..." when I hear or see that you are "..." allow you to convey emotions without attacking your partner.

  3. Embracing Solo Couples Therapy: If your partner remains unwilling to engage in couples counseling, consider individual therapy for yourself. Choosing solo couples therapy is a powerful step towards personal transformation. It's not about changing your partner; it's about taking control of your own growth and development. This demonstrates dedication to nurturing the relationship, even if your partner isn't ready. Seeing an individual therapist or couples counselor individually can provide insights, strategies, and support in understanding how to approach the relationship and communicate effectively, even if your partner isn't currently involved.

  4. The Ripple Effect: When your partner sees the positive changes in you, they may feel inspired to join in. It sets off a ripple effect of growth and improvement in your relationship. Remember, it's not about changing your partner's mind; it's about taking charge of your own journey towards a better relationship.

  5. Embrace Different Approaches: If traditional couples therapy isn't appealing, online platforms like the Gottman Institute offer skill-building exercises. Immersive workshops are also fantastic alternatives.


Focusing on What You Can Do

  1. Welcoming Acceptance: Accepting your partner's choice not to engage in counseling is crucial. It creates a safe space for genuine connection, fostering authenticity and intimacy.

  2. Celebrate Contributions - Big and Small: Recognizing and appreciating your partner's contributions, no matter how small, strengthens emotional closeness. Expressing gratitude for these gestures builds a stronger bond.

  3. Navigate with Hope: Bumps in the road don’t mean the end of the journey. Seeking individual therapy for personal growth can lead to positive shifts in the partnership. Understanding yourself better equips you to lead the relationship with confidence and compassion.


Embracing Growth Through Couples Counseling


Couples counseling holds the potential to transform your relationship and provides a safe space to address concerns, communicate more clearly, and foster a deeper understanding. This care isn't just for troubled relationships. Seeking professional help is a sign of dedication to growth and harmony.


Remember, the journey of relationship growth is a shared one. Understanding, supporting, and communicating with one another are the cornerstones of a strong partnership. Embrace the potential for growth, and know that you're not alone in this journey. Keep moving forward, and your efforts will make a real difference. You've got this!

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If you find yourself in need of professional help, don't hesitate to reach out to us and schedule a session. Our dedicated team at Ready Nest Counseling is here to help you navigate life's challenges and transitions with care and compassion. Whether you're experiencing difficulties related to conception, pregnancy, postpartum, infertility, loss, parenting, or relationships our therapists are ready to support you. We offer both in-person and virtual therapy. Schedule a therapy session with us today and take the first step towards a healthier you. Ready Nest Counseling also offers support groups for new moms and those who have experienced pregnancy loss. Remember, you don't have to face it alone – we're here for you.


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