My partner refuses to go to couples counselling. Now what?

May 1, 2020
By mentalpros
Whether you’re married, dating, in a long-term relationship, or it’s something more complicated, we all experience life’s ups and downs as part of our partnerships. Few, if any relationships exist without some form of conflict. That could be in the form of the odd disagreement, bickering, or something bigger and more serious.

At some point, you may begin to question if things can last; your first instinct may be to try and work through any problems alone, or to deny that there’s anything wrong and to try and push through. But when our relationships start to cause us worry, upset, or new levels of stress, this can affect our physical and mental well-being.

Speaking with an outside, impartial person can help to give you both the space to talk, explore what is really causing you issues, and to find new ways you can work together on your relationship (and yourselves) to feel happier, more fulfilled, and able to face the world together.
But what happens if your partner refuses to consider relationship counselling? If only one of you is on board with trying couples’ therapy, what can you do to still support your relationship, without creating further hurt feelings?

We spoke with relationship counsellor Beverly Hills, to find out more about what counselling can – and can’t – do for our relationships.

“Relationship counselling is not about fixing the relationship, like any counselling it’s more about helping you to facilitate change or indeed it could be about helping you reach an amicable break up.” Beverley explains.

Relationship therapy, also known as couples counselling, is a type of talking therapy designed to give both of you a safe space to talk. It can help you to discover ways you can improve your communication and resolve any issues that may be causing tension or strain in your relationship.
“If one partner is reluctant to come to counselling then the chances of ‘persuading’ them can often fail and no counsellor can work with resistance, which begs the question: how do you convince your partner this is the right course of action for you both?”

If your partner is reluctant to open up and speak candidly about why they aren’t keen to try counselling, it could be worth considering why this is. As Beverley explains,
“Consider framing the notion from the other person’s point of view. This is a good way to help them see you have their best interests at heart and is the basis of true empathy. Why would your other half be resistant? Well they may imagine the counsellor and the partner will gang up on them.

“Assure them that ethically, the counsellor will be totally impartial. Whether they are male or female, therapists never ‘take sides’ and it will be a confidential safe space for both partners to express their feelings and opinions about issues which have made living together difficult.
“Perhaps they may feel as though they will be blamed for whatever is going wrong. Again, like most counselling, relationship counselling is not about blame but about circumstance. Together we look at the various events which led to this situation so you both become aware and share the accountability.”

If you have already begun research into couples counselling, what it involves, and how it can help, Beverley suggests it could be a good starting point to share this information with your partner. Getting them involved in the process can help them to feel more comfortable and included.

“Suggest sharing the resources you’ve found, so you can choose who you see together. Offering your partner collective power can often help them become less reluctant.

“In my experience as a relationship counsellor, the emotional healing process doesn’t happen overnight; imagine you’ve had all these years to get to this point so it’s going to take a while to understand how and why you got there, both as individuals and as a couple so I’d advocate patience with yourself and your partner. With the support of a good relationship counsellor you will get there in the end.”

By Bonnie Evie Gifford, writer at Counselling Directory