There are many conversations partners have in their lifetime together, and not all of them are necessarily pleasant. But that's life, isn't it? Sometimes, what you need to do and what's best for you aren't t always the easy option. Perhaps that's why it can be so hard to figure out how to talk to your partner about going to marriage counseling. Of course this kind of topic is bound to ruffle feathers, create tension, or temporarily make things awkward before they're better. The very fact that you're saying there's a problem or something that needs to be healed in your marriage is enough to put anyone on the defensive.
The first step is recognizing the signs that you and your partner need to go to couples counseling. After you've done that — and tried your best not to let internet comment boards fill your head with worst case scenarios — you have to find the best way to broach the topic with your significant other. Though it can be a heavy subject, this doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. Thankfully, there are plenty of psychologist and expert-recommended ways to figure out how to talk to your partner about going to marriage counseling. Check these options out and see what feels like the right fit for you.
1. Do The Opposite
This might seem obvious, but if hurling insults got you into this situation, then doing the opposite is a step in the right direction. Dr. Jane Framingham, a relationship expert, told Psych Central that it's time for a conversation when you use hostile words or actions that cause emotional or physical hurt. So try and stay away from being hostile or hurtful.
2. Keep Your Ears Open
Though you're the one that has initiated the talking, a fair amount of listening could actually do you some good. "Listen carefully," Dr. F. Diane Barth, a licensed psychotherapist, told Psychology Today. "Knowing that you are being heard is one of the experiences most likely to cement connection." Making sure that both of you feel like you're being understood is key to having a healthy discussion about therapy.
3. Use The "Me" In "Team"
It could seem like a bad idea to talk about yourself, but according to one expert, that may be the best option. "Use 'I' language instead of 'you' language," Irene Hansen Savarese, a licensed marriage and relationship therapist, told Good Therapy. What does this mean in terms of discussing counseling? Savarese continues, "if the conversation is more about you than your partner, it is easier for your partner to concentrate on what you are saying." Plus, keeping the topic on you helps prevent your partner from feeling attacked.
4. Don't Stew
Obviously you wouldn't be having this conversation with your partner unless you had experienced your fair share of arguments. But that may not be the line you want to open with when talking to your significant other about therapy. Dr. Joyce Morley, a marriage therapist, told Woman's Day, that you should accept responsibility for a mistake and then move on. Stewing on problems or throwing yourself a pity party isn't going to help the counseling process move forward.
5. Get Their Input
You may know exactly why you think you should go to therapy, but what about your partner? According to Guide Doc, a health and wellness resource site, since marriage counseling will inevitably address the conflicts in your relationship, you should ask your spouse what they think are the main issues and what can be done to remedy the situation. This will give you both an idea of what you're hoping to achieve by going to counseling.
6. Stay On Point
It can be easy to get roped into a side argument or defend yourself, but that will only derail your original purpose of talking about therapy options. Dr. John M. Grohol, a mental health expert, told Psych Central that it's important to, "stay focused in the here and now," when discussing marriage counseling. Why is that so key? "Arguments that do veer off tend to escalate and grow larger and larger," Grohol explained. Obviously you want to keep things from getting to that point, so try and reframe things if you feel it going off course.
7. Be Patient
This is just a good rule of thumb in life, but can be especially helpful when it comes to relationships. "Wait until they have finished talking before you express disagreement," Savarese told Good Therapy. Instead of cutting your partner off and telling them why you're right about the need to attend counseling, be patient. Giving your partner the chance to voice their opinion is exactly what you'll be doing in therapy anyways, so why not get a jump-start now?