If you are having trouble in your relationship, you may feel that there is nothing left to save. However, do not give up until you have done everything possible to save what once was. Couples counseling can be a saving grace to any relationship, that is, if you can get both partners to attend and interact. One of the most common challenges of couples therapy is getting your partner to attend with you. The idea of sharing all of your deep, dark feelings and problems with a complete stranger can be incredibly intimidating, especially if you have never received any kind of counseling before. The pathway to couples counseling may need to be tread lightly. Here are a few tips to help it go more smoothly:
Discuss The Need
Please note that this section is not called "Tell them there is a need". Talk to your partner about how things have been going in your relationship, and discuss ways that things could be resolved. Though you may feel that couples counseling is the solution to everything, your partner may have other methods of rectifying things. Discuss the subject between you. What are the pros and cons of receiving couples counseling? What else could you try?
Do Not Assign Blame
During this conversation, try not to assign blame to your partner, or yourself for that matter. It takes more than one person to have marital problems, and if you begin to assign blame the conversation will quickly turn into a fight. Assigning blame is usually interpreted as attacking your partner. Instead of saying things like 'This is all your fault', 'You always do this', or 'You never listen to me', use more open language, such as there is a problem, 'there is a problem', this happens frequently', or 'I feel unheard'.
Give Them Time
Do not expect your partner to be completely okay with the idea of counseling overnight. Do not schedule a counseling appointment before you have talked to them, unless you are okay going to it alone. Respect your partner's feelings enough to give them a chance to wrap their head around the situation.
In conclusion, the ultimate truth of the matter is that you cannot force your partner to do anything they do not wish to do. You can invite them in a nonthreatening manner and give them the time and space they need, but ultimately it is their choice. If they decide that they will not attend with you, find the courage within yourself to go alone. Your counselor will likely be able to give you tools that you can use to figure out exactly how to help your relationship, or if it is time to try other strategies.
After developing a chronic physical illness, I soon began realizing that the disease plagued my mind almost more than it did my body. While my illness is not life-threatening, it was very difficult accepting that I would have to take medication for the rest of my life and eat a strict diet. After a year of depression, I finally overcame my fear of "exposing" my feelings to others and made an appointment with a mental health counselor. With her help, I was able to see the "silver linings" in life that I had greatly taken for granted before I became ill. I now encourage anyone who is battling an illness of any type to seek the psychological help they need. I plan to post lots of little mental health tips and tricks on my new blog along with advice for choosing a good counselor. Please come back soon!