Talking to your partner about couples therapy is one of the bravest, yet terrifying things that you can do. Many people are very fearful of what bringing up relationship counseling will do to the relationship. Unfortunately, this vulnerability leaves many in silence, rather than opening up this doorway to addressing serious relationship problems.
There is one key word that I suggest you focus on when bringing up such a challenging topic. When preparing yourself to talk about couples therapy, you need to remember to focus on “I”. It’s important to tell your partner what your hopes are and how you hope it can help you grow. This will help to prevent misunderstandings and feelings of being blamed. For example, you can say something to the effect of, “I wanted to bring up something that is very difficult and vulnerable for me. I’m wanting us to consider going to couples therapy, because I would love to feel closer to you. There are things that I need to work on, and I want you to be there with me when I do.” This is just one example, but within it you can see that the focus is on your desires and even your issues. It doesn’t come across as defensive or aggressive.
Remember that couples therapy is an opportunity, not a punishment or burden. If you can remember that for yourself, you’re less likely to enter any conversations about relationship therapy with resentment or an energy that will put your partner on the defensive. This means that your partner is more likely to see it as a possibility to grow, better enjoy time with each other, and reach goals.
You would also benefit from giving your partner some decision-making power in this. I highly suggest you consider seeking out a therapist who is trained in the Gottman method of couples therapy, because this approach is so well-researched. However, you can give your partner decision-making power for other issues, such as the gender of the therapist, proximity to your home, etc. This will make the process less threatening, and less like an intervention to blame, shame, or criticize your partner. You could also encourage your partner to list relationship concerns that he/she/they has, and would prefer to discuss. This will show that you have are opening a door to making changes as well.
It’s also key to note what kinds of things would prevent your partner from wanting to engage in therapy. What are your partner’s fears and apprehensions? Recognize and listen to these. Reassure your partner that these things should be brought up to your therapist.
Reassure your partner that you’re trying to make things work. Many times people are afraid of the vulnerability that couples therapy will lead both parties to realize that they don’t belong together. There is some chance of this happening, however the focus of couples therapy is to help the couple find their hope and build on this. Thus, reassuring your partner that you’re not trying to find a way out can help ease some anxiety.
Going to a relationship therapist can be a terrifying prospect. Many times, people are defensive, fearful, and apprehensive of the possibility of this. By listening and respecting these emotions, you’re much less likely to run into a wall when trying to bring these things up. You’re also much more likely to get your partner on board with attending and engaging in a way that will make the time and money more useful.[mc4wp_form]