Trying to convince a resistant partner to see a couples therapist? A professional addresses the most common arguments against seeking relationship therapy.
Certified Sex Therapist & Clinical Counsellor
0 minute read
It’s an increasingly common dilemma.
Romantic relationships are hard work. Like, really hard work. And therapy of any kind can be intimidating. Open up to a complete stranger? Yikes!
If you’re someone who wants to do relationship therapy but your partner is resistant, this article will provide suggestions on how to manage that.
If you’re someone who is resistant to therapy and your partner sent you this in an attempt to coax you into the idea, welcome. There are things here for you too.
According to John and Julie Gottman, every relationship has a perpetual problem. That is to say, no matter who you date, marry, or have kids with; you will disagree on something. And it will persist as a problem for most of your relationship.
Thanks to decades of research and this finding, we can see that couples therapy could be helpful for learning how to navigate the inevitable.
Whether you’re married, single, or dating; your patterns of communication might become repetitive and cyclical. It can be difficult to know exactly how to enact change.
Amongst the kids, jobs, bills, and burning planet, people often put their romantic relationships last. Relationship therapy creates a space to focus on your relationship, and maintain its wellbeing.
Your relationship is like a car that you’re neglecting until the check engine light starts flashing at you. If you maintain it, you avoid the thing falling apart.
So here are some classic reasons against couples therapy, and some counter arguments for you to argue about. Because you argue about everything now. And it could be solved with therapy…
True. It is. So is your car, and so is a divorce.
You can cover most therapy on health insurance, so do check whether your cover includes psychology/counselling.
If therapy is too much, try attending workshops. These are less expensive.
Relationships 101 - don’t give ultimatums, they don’t produce good results.
Be honest about why you want to go to therapy. And reassure your partner that the therapy is for them too. Discuss what you would each like to address in therapy.
This usually tells me there is a lot of shame around the issues in a relationship.
Allow me to reassure you: EVERYONE has dirty laundry. And Therapists love the smell. They’re there to help you manage the laundry, not judge the shit stains on the undies.
Be compassionate with a partner who is hesitant here - shame is a strong emotion.
Validate that it’s a nerve wracking process, but that it may be worthwhile.
Avoidance is an effective strategy in the short term, but you’ll feel the consequences in the long term.
I won’t lie to you, therapy involves emotional vulnerability, honesty, and a lot of courage. But you always start off slow. You’re not expected to jump straight in. It’s natural to take time to build trust with a therapist.
Playing the blame game is unproductive, and a couples therapist will usually interrupt it if it happens.
No one likes being attacked, which is probably why you’re fighting.
In therapy you’ll learn how to approach hard topics gently, and each take responsibility for your part.
Your therapist is not a referee for your screaming matches.
When I see a couple, I am seeing just that, the couple. A good therapist will validate both partner’s perspectives so everyone feels heard and understood.
There’s a negative stigma around therapy that implies this. But it’s not always true. Therapy can help save relationships, especially if you seek support before damage has been done.
It’s a lot like seeing the dentist for your teeth. If you go regularly, all you need is a check up and clean. Sure it’s a little uncomfortable, but nothing you can’t handle. If you neglect your teeth for a long period, we’re looking at a full blown extraction, and it’s gonna hurt.
Even then, those who are in crisis or processing affairs can still come out the other end. Relationships are resilient if the people in them are motivated to keep them alive.
Relationships are hard work. Very few people were raised witnessing healthy communication in their households. There’s no shame in learning how to work on your relationship.
You may even find that you are then modelling patience, kindness, and mutual respect to your children and other family members.
If you’re still unsure, engage with podcasts, books, or workshops to get familiar with the benefits of therapy.
Certified Sex Therapist & Clinical Counsellor