What if my partner refuses to have couples counseling?

You want to have couple counseling, but your partner refuses. So, in addition to having arguments about the things you’re having arguments about, you’re now also having an argument about counseling!

It’s not a good idea to have this turn into another subject of disagreement, with each of you pulling into a different direction.

Here’s what I suggest you do.

Give up on the idea of couple counseling, for the time being. Tell your partner that you’re honoring his/her resistance.

In return, ask your partner that the two of you set up some time (say, one hour a week) to schedule a “talk session” just between the two of you. Take this session just as seriously as you would if you were paying for it.

Focus on finding the ways in which you agree on a given subject, as opposed to the ways you disagree. Yes, I am suggesting you do the opposite of what feels natural:

  • Don’t talk about the way you see things differently,
  • But talk about how you see things in a similar way.

In these sessions, you will probably find it helpful to use active listening: After one person talks, the other summarizes and checks that the summary is OK. See: Couples communication exercises.

What if this doesn’t work?

If you try this and it doesn’t work, the good news is that, now, both of you may agree that you need outside help to work things out.

What if the two of you can’t work things out… but your partner insists he/she won’t accept any outside help?

Then it makes sense for you to look for outside help on how you will best deal with this relationship.