Feeling like you could benefit from couples counseling? If so, you may fear that your partner won’t want to participate.
That’s a common concern. You obviously can’t physically force your partner to go. Still, there are some things you can do to increase the likelihood they’ll oblige.
What exactly is the best way to invite them? Here are some ideas.
If You Blame, You Lose
Maybe, first, we should look at how not to invite your partner.
This is important to bring up because it’s likely the number-one thing that’ll make your partner shut down, resist and run for cover.
Here’s some dialogue to illustrate the point.
Imagine if your partner requested that you go to couples counseling like this:
“(your name), I’m really concerned about your anger outbursts lately. You don’t help out around the house like you used to. Worse yet, you don’t engage with our family in a meaningful way.”
“I think we should go to counseling to work through these issues.”
How do you think you would respond to that scenario? Would you want to go to counseling?
Because you feel attacked. You feel singled out.
This “invitation” can feel more like an ultimatum (do this or else). Human nature is to rebel.
By zooming in on the shortcomings of your partner, be very surprised if you get what you want.
Be Transparent About Your Own Struggles, Too
Even if you feel that most of your relationship problems are because of your partner, there’s something important to remember.
You both still have challenges you could use help with. Everyone in the world can say that much.
Approach your partner about some of your failures and weaknesses. Ask if they would be willing to help you work through them. If you hurt your partner, admit it, apologize and share how you want to do better.
The truth is that we can only change ourselves so this is a valid way to go about things.
A bit of caution, though. This will backfire and badly if this strategy is used as a manipulation technique.
If you focus on your challenges to get your partner through the “counseling door” and then dump out all the reasons your partner is the problem while in session, that won’t go well for obvious reasons!
Let your partner’s problems come out in the session naturally.
Focus on the Good with the Goal of Better
Focus on the positive and inviting your partner to counseling will be way easier.
Instead of zooming in on all the flaws of your relationship, talk about what’s good already.
Focus on the prospect of counseling as a way to go from good to better instead of a way to fix a relationship “on the edge of the abyss.”
One great way to set this tone is to plan something fun to do after your counseling session to build your relationship. Find something out of the norm from what you do that you’ll both look forward to.
Just have fun. After all, it’s pretty hard to fight when you’re having fun!