Tips for Getting Your Partner on Board With Couples Counseling

Tips for Getting Your Partner on Board With Couples Counseling

Couples counseling, by its definition, takes two. No matter how much you’d like to improve your relationship and strengthen communication between you and your partner, the first step is to make sure that your partner is on board.

But what if they aren’t? Is that a sign it’s time to break up? Or do you go it alone, with one-on-one counseling and hope that your new skills are sufficient to improve your relationship?

At The Soho Center for Mental Health Counseling, our caring counselors diagnose help you and your partner connect at our offices in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City or through secure teletherapy. Couples can benefit from therapy at any stage of their relationship, including the very beginning.

Most couples, though, wait at least six years before getting involved in couples therapy. Unfortunately, almost 70% of problems in relationships don’t resolve themselves on their own. 

Do you want to convince your partner to jump on board for couples therapy to strengthen your relationship? Here are a few tips on how to accomplish that.

Stay light … and connected

When you’re eager to “fix” your relationship, your partner can feel your tension and stress. They may feel threatened or judged by your unhappiness or discontent. They may worry that you want to go into couples therapy so that the therapist will take sides against them.

Before bringing up serious issues, like working on your relationship, take time to connect in a light or playful way. Do something that you both enjoy, such as going to the movies, watching TV, or playing a game.

Also, be sure that your partner has the time to engage in a serious conversation. If they’re rushing out the door or are overly exhausted, bide your time. Wait until they’re calm and relaxed.

Ask them if they want to talk

If you take an aggressive approach by laying out your complaints or frustrations, it’s sure to backfire. Conversations that start with aggression tend to end with worsened aggression.

Instead, invite your partner into a conversation or discussion of their own needs. For instance, you may start by appreciating your partner and assuring them of their importance to you. Then, ask them what they want from the relationship.

Keep your voice light. Let go of any expectations if you can. This stage is simply to introduce the idea in a non-threatening way. 

By assuring them of their importance to you and by asking them how they’d like the relationship to develop, you lessen the chance that they feel blamed or threatened for your discontent.

Just listen

Though you may be tempted to jump in and change your partner’s mind or defend yourself, depending on what they say, it’s time to simply listen and gather information. They may see your relationship far differently than you do. 

If they have questions, answer them as honestly and non-confrontationally as you can. If you don’t know the answer, it may be something that the two of you can look up online together.

Reframe the idea

Your partner may reject the idea of a therapist because of the implication that there’s something “wrong” with them or “wrong” with the relationship. Seeking a counselor’s help may sound like the relationship is already doomed.

You could reframe the idea of therapy as a coaching session. Top athletes, pro sports teams, and many successful business people benefit from coaches who take them to the next level. 

There’s no shame in wanting to be better and to excel in any area of your life… especially your intimate relationship. You could improve communication, bonding, and your sex life, too.

Don’t be discouraged by “no”

You probably took a long time to get to a place where you felt you needed couples therapy. Your partner may not be there yet. 

You can ask them why they aren’t interested. Again, it’s best to just listen without trying to change their mind or convince them they’re wrong. 

They may have concerns that you can address. Or they may simply not want to do it. At that point, move the conversation onto other topics. They may need a few days to think about it.

In the meantime, getting counseling for yourself can help you navigate the frustrations you face in your relationship. You can learn new skills that make you a better communicator and may inspire your partner to wish to learn them, too.

When your partner is ready to start couples therapy, or if you’d like to start with individual therapy, contact our caring and sensitive team by phone or using our online form. We also offer telehealth counseling sessions.


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