I often hear, “I would love to come to counseling, but my husband/wife won’t come.” I get it. Marriage counseling is often thought of as the last thing you do before you get divorced. There is a misconception that you should only go to marriage counseling if you are in crisis/on the verge of divorce. There are also many folks who go for a session or 2, so that they can say they “tried counseling” even though their minds were already made up and they didn’t actually try at all. The truth is most couple’s wait 6 years to come to therapy after the issues begin (Gottman). That means, most people do wait until they are in crisis/make or break/verge of divorce mode. And this is a huge problem.Waiting too long means one person (likely the one asking for counseling 6 years ago) hasn’t felt loved in a long time, and is now on the verge of leaving or filing for divorce. At this point, the other partner finally gets it and offers counseling instead. The issue with this is that it’s too late. The spouse who hasn’t felt loved in a long time is now numb. This numbness is why marriage counseling will have less odds of being helpful. Numb folks won’t make the effort (they’ve emotionally given up) and have usually already made up their minds. So, now that we’ve established the importance of not waiting until you’re in crisis mode…what are some tips for getting your partner to come?
Remember, counseling can be a really scary thing for some people. Unknown things usually are. Be compassionate, but firm. If you think you need marriage counseling, you probably do. Don’t give up! I’ve found that I can win skeptics in the first session, because I have a practical plan and structure for marriage sessions and because I incorporate humor with compassion and tough love.
Written & Provided by: Lauren Dack, LMFT of Joyful Life Counseling. Email Lauren if you’re interested in counseling.