My partner refuses to go to couples therapy

It is often the case that one partner is less willing to attend couples therapy, or outright refuses to go. If your partner is strongly resistant to going to couples counseling or marriage therapy, then here are some thoughts to consider.


Be clear in yourself

Be clear in yourself that going to couples therapy is something that you believe might really help strengthen or save your relationship. You guys have tried it alone and keep finding yourselves returning to the same unproductive patterns that keep you cycling.  If you’re clear that now is the time to make a change and this is the avenue that you believe will help, then you will express this belief with stability and calm statements of intention and purpose.


A demand for change is not a threat

For some, a demand to go to therapy is seen as a threat by their partner who then become imeadiately resistant to the idea. But a threat is the promise to inflict pain in retribution for an action or inaction. The statement “If you don’t do this, I'll leave you,” might be seen as a threat if interpreted as "if you don't do what I say, I'll hurt you." If heard like this, the underlying meaning and truth of your statement is lost.

What is true is that you know yourself well enough to know that you cannot continue indefinitely with the way things are. Your relationship can’t survive if something doesn't change and you believe that outside help is your best alternative right now. This relationship is important to you and you want your partner and you to make changes, starting with going to therapy. There is nothing here that is a promise to inflict pain in retribution for an action or inaction, therefore it is not a threat.  These are only statements of truth.


Go to couples counseling alone

If your partner absolutely refuses to go, consider starting couples therapy or marriage counseling without them.  Attending couples therapy on your own will often make significant changes within you. These changes typically are beneficial to both yourself and your relationship. Even if your partner won't come in for marriage therapy or couples counseling, you can work on your unproductive patterns that have contributed to your relationship problems. This will impact how you function as a couple. When you stop playing your part in your relational repetitive cycle, the cycle has no option but to change. Your behavior will change and you may find that your partner's behavior will change as a result of what you do.


Be open to alternatives

If in the conversation that you have about going to couples counseling, your partner comes up with alternatives that make sense, be open to them.  Therapy is not for everyone and an open, non-defensive discussion around going to couples therapy may create a space between you where you can explore viable alternative solutions. When looking for alternative solutions, stay focused on what is most important to you and establish mutually agreed upon goals.