You’ve likely heard the saying that it “takes two to tango,” right?
The same goes for couples therapy. There is much to be said of individual therapy, as it can also benefit your relationship.
But couples therapy is meant for two people – two willing participants. Sometimes one partner is ready to head right into therapy, while the other partner has their foot on the brakes. As the ready and willing partner, you might feel frustrated, annoyed, angry, and even helpless. Though each of you has the right to make your own choices in life, you’re not helpless in this endeavor. Here are some ways to encourage your partner to go with you to therapy.
1. Explain All the Money You Will Save
Therapy is an investment in your future together as a couple. Maybe this is blatantly obvious to you, but it might not be to your partner.
When you present the idea of therapy to your partner, talk about the exceptionally good ROI (return on investment) therapy offers.
For instance, you’re both likely spending money on things to help you cope with the emotional void you feel. Things like alcohol, shopping sprees, hobbies, etc. all cost money. Sometimes a lot of money.
By introducing therapy as one way to invest in the relationship and ultimately save money, your partner might be more apt to jump on board with the idea.
2. Accept a Big Chunk of Responsibility
It’s not uncommon for one partner to resist therapy because they don’t want their flaws pointed out in front of a therapist for an entire hour. Admittedly, that’s not an inviting thought for anyone.
Encouraging your partner also means accepting your part in the relationship breakdown.
Essentially you don’t want to go to therapy to change your partner. You want therapy to help you change the way you interact and function together as a couple. That concept doesn’t assign blame to one person or the other. So neither should you.
3. Sway on the Side of Positivity
At one point, you might be facing such an extreme level of frustration that you are tempted to get forceful. You may have gone so far as to threaten separation or divorce.
Ultimatums like this back your partner into a corner and attempt to force them to choose one way or the other.
Unfortunately, giving your partner this type of choice will likely produce the opposite effect of what you want, triggering the fight-or-flight response within them.
Avoid creating such an intense and very unnecessary power struggle. It just produces greater distance between you.
4. Entice with Solutions
As mentioned before, the point of therapy isn’t to put your partner on the spot or list off any offenses you have against them. The point is to come to a resolution where you both successfully manage the conflict and maintain your connection.
So shine a light on finding solutions to both of your relationship issues. It’s not just you who is struggling; your partner struggles, too. Be sure to express that you believe therapy can help you reach the resolutions you both desire.
5. Go the Extra Mile
For the especially resistant spouse, you might need to take a step back. For reasons unknown, your partner simply hasn’t warmed to the idea of therapy.
So stop talking about it for a few weeks. During that time, shift focus and go the extra mile. Show your partner that you care.
It’s not bribery, but it is confirming your love for your partner, and letting them see that you really do want to work things out.
Take the first step…
If you’re ready to take a step toward changing your life and relationship for the better, I would like to help. Please contact me by phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT