Are you worried about how to approach your partner to start couples therapy for your relationship? No matter what stage your relationship is in, couples therapy can help, but often times partners can be hesitant in the beginning stages. This hesitation can be due a multitude of factors including stigmas surrounding therapy, worry about the relationship ending, and feeling uncomfortable talking about feelings. This article discusses how to initiate the difficult discussion with your partner so your relationship can get the help that it needs!
Find the Right Timing
When to bring up this conversation to your partner might be the most important step of all. Using therapy as a weapon or a threat in the relationship is never a good way to bring up the subject, as it can be perceived as a punishment for your partner. Post-argument or during feelings of strong resentment are also a bad time to bring up the conversation. Make sure that you and your partner are in a moderately good headspace and aren’t still recovering from any individual or relationship problem that day. When that is not possible, try to self-soothe beforehand! You can do this by deep breathing, going for a walk, or whatever you need to do for total relaxation.
Listen To Your Partner
You may initially receive feedback of uncertainty or defensiveness about the process, and that is okay! It is understandable that your partner might be hesitant, especially if they don’t know much about how therapy works. Be open to listening to what your partner has to say about the process, whether you agree with it or not. Validate their concerns and try to be as supportive as possible of their feelings during this time.
Don’t Blame Your Partner for the Problems
One of the worst ways to initiate couples therapy or relationship counseling is to make your partner the “identified patient”. Blaming your partner for the total destruction of the relationship will not help. Especially if your partner is already hesitant about therapy in general, insinuating that couple’s services will “fix their character flaws” could actually turn them away from the process all together. Couples therapy is meant to better the relationship dynamics, and not “fix” the individual people.
Giving your partner information about how therapy works, and what couples therapy may look like, could help ease some of their concerns. They may find it interesting or helpful to do their own research as well. You can also write down questions you or your partner have and bring these questions to the phone consultation. Giving your partner the time they need to feel well educated about the process before taking the next steps will help facilitate a smooth transition into starting therapy.
Keep Them a Part of The Process
If your partner does decide to start the process of couples therapy, it is always a good idea to keep them included in the steps you take along the way. This could be adding their email address in the email dialogue between you and the therapist. Or making sure to include them in the initial phone consultation! Starting this process with as much transparency as possible will help your partner to feel just as aligned with the therapist as you are. If you both don’t blend well with the initial therapist you choose, see if there is another therapist out there that you both want to work with and make the switch! Finding the right therapist is essential in fostering motivation to put in the work and achieving your relationship goals.
Starting couples or relationship therapy can be a scary process for many people, and how you start your journey with your partner can set the tone for the steps to follow. These first few steps can be difficult for some due to many factors but commend yourself for the brave journey you are taking in starting this process!
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