How To Ask Your Partner To Go To Couple's Therapy

Oftentimes, the idea of trying couple's therapy comes up when your relationship is almost hitting rock bottom. In fact, New York-based sex therapist Dr. Rosara Torrisi told Vice that there is no need to wait till "breaking point" to seek outside help. Couples can benefit from attending therapy together at an earlier stage when unsolvable disagreements consistently crop up. If you feel like your partner keeps pushing your buttons or they feel the same way, and you can't seem to meet in the middle, it might be time to try couple's counseling.

But deciding to go to therapy might not always be a choice you both arrive at together. There could be an occasion when you've gotten there first and now you're pondering how best to broach the topic with your significant other. Perhaps you're aware of your partner's prejudices or general feelings toward therapy. It is not uncommon for them to think that they don't need outside help (via The Gottman Institute). Or maybe there are worries about finances, being forced to open up and discuss their emotions, or that they'd be targeted by the therapist and you during the sessions. 

Whatever the reasons, the thought of asking your partner to seek professional help to sort out deeply personal matters can be daunting. Here are some ways in which you can navigate it. 

Be honest and loving when you talk about it

Getting candid about your problems with yourself and with your partner is important when you're about to discuss going to couple's therapy (via Our Relationship) but try your best not to point fingers during the conversation. It's important to let your partner know that you still love them and that the reason you're suggesting this route is because of that love. Therapist Leda Kaveh told Fatherly that you would be better off using "I" statements which are less likely to make your partner get defensive. No one likes to feel like they are entirely to blame for the relationship's struggles. 

New York-based sex therapist Dr. Torrisi told Vice that she "likes the idea of sandwiching information so that somebody feels loved and supported." Try and come from a positive and empowering place rather than a negative and criticizing one. Choose your words with care. If your partner is not someone who handles feelings well or if they are unaware of their own struggles, try and approach the topic with facts, per Fatherly. 

And whatever you do, don't bring the topic up during an argument, warned Torrisi, per Vice. "A fight is when people are slinging cheap shots with the purpose of hurting each other," she explained. Timing is everything when it comes to talking to your partner about seeking outside help for your relationship problems.  

Find a way to compromise if your partner is saying no

Even if you found an open and caring way to bring up the topic, there's a good chance that your partner won't want to go. How you react to this resistance is important, per The Gottman Institute. Be respectful and ask them why they feel that way. This will open a window for you to listen to their concerns and address them lovingly. The solutions or alternatives you come up with should be ones your partner is comfortable with, sex therapist Dr. Torrisi told Vice. Alternatives could include workbooks or even YouTube videos. "... if your partner is super opposed to therapy, but would be willing to do workbooks or watch YouTube videos with you or whatever, then like, okay, let's do that," said Torrisi. 

Sharing your own experience with counseling and showing how it's changed you can be a powerful motivator for your partner too, per Fatherly. And who knows? Perhaps you and your relationship could benefit from trying couple's therapy without your partner present

The bottom line is that you can't force your partner to go with you. You can only ask. The decision has to come from them.

 If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.