Simple steps to convince your husband to go to marriage counseling
There are some good reasons that could make your husband refuse marriage counseling. Fortunately, you can overcome his objections by helping him to see what is in it for him. Here are some ideas that you can use to motivate him.
Use questions rather than statements
If you try to tell your husband what to do, he will immediately resist and formulate his argument before you even finish your sentence. By asking questions instead, you bypass immediate resistance and get him to consider what you are saying. And, if you ask the right questions, you really don’t need to get the answers. Your goal is simply to make him uncomfortable with doing nothing. Here are the questions that you can ask him.
Do you like the way that our marriage has become?
Do you think our marriage is going to get better if we don’t do something about it?
Do you really want to have this kind of marriage for the rest of your life?
Please notice that there are no questions about counseling–yet.
Choose the right time to ask
The best time to ask these questions is when things are going relatively well. If you say them in the heat of battle, they will tend to be discounted as you are just slinging mud because your emotions are getting out of control. When you ask them at a time when things are relatively calm, they take on a whole new meaning. Although people try to get others to take them more seriously by shouting, that effect quickly wears off. It’s what you say when you are calm that will have the most impact. The better you are getting along at the time you ask these questions, the more your husband will be able to listen to you.
If you get a rejecting response
If you are afraid to ask these questions because you think he will want to get out of the marriage, you need to remember that you won’t be putting these ideas into his mind. If he wants out of your marriage, he has already thought of that. It’s better to open up a dialogue about it now than to wait until he has completely made up his mind. By the time a man tell you that he needs time to figure out what he wants, he has already planned his exit from the marriage. Getting to him before he completes his plan will give you a better chance to convince your husband to go to counseling.
A closing message to convince husband
Whether or not your husband answers your questions, you need to say one more thing before you finish your conversation with him:
I do want our marriage to continue, but not like it is now.
This message should both reassure him and scare him. It reassures him that there is still time to fix things. It scares him into seeing the ending of your marriage if things don’t change. Many women make the mistake of only giving half of this message. If she says that she wants the marriage to continue, he is too reassured, resulting in no action. If she says she does not want the marriage to continue, then he is likely to be too reactive and may immediately reject his wife. By combining these messages, you end up with a loving message with a good boundary that is most likely to convince husband to go to counseling with you. Unless he suggests counseling, don’t bring it up quite yet.
Don’t expect results the first time you say this
After your husband has had some time to consider these questions (perhaps after a week), it will be time to ask the same questions again. Why is that? Especially with men, it is very helpful to say things twice. More than that turns into nagging, but less than that is often forgotten. If you don’t say it again, he will just attribute it to your having been in a weird mood. If you have been married for a while, doubtless you have seen that demonstrated a number of times.
Soliciting his ideas
The next step is getting your husband’s ideas about how to fix the problems in your marriage. I don’t recommend you try to convince husband to go to counseling before getting his ideas. If he has an idea, and you don’t think it will work, but it would not be harmful to try, then tell him you are willing to try his idea for one month as long as he is willing to try your idea if his doesn’t help. Hopefully, he will then ask what your idea is. Then say,
My idea is we get marriage counseling or at least marriage coaching.
Waiting until he asks will help him to consider better, and giving him two choices (counseling or coaching) will also help him not to just give you a blanket refusal.
Understanding why this works
One reason that this way works is that it puts off the counseling or coaching for a month, while also giving him more motivation to work on the relationship in the meantime. Not wanting to go to counseling or coaching can help him to “get with the program,” and make more of an effort with your relationship. But, if counseling or coaching were set at some indefinite time in the future, he would probably just delay and avoid.
If he has no idea, then ask him straight out which choice he prefers…
If he says he has no idea what he wants or thinks, then ask him directly:
Would you rather get coaching or counseling with me now, or just let our relationship come to a natural end?
He still may have no answer for you. That’s okay. Give him time to process. If he is computer savvy, he may do some research on coaching vs.counseling. As much as possible, let the idea come from him. Give him a sense of control. Making a man feel like he has no option or like he is being dragged into counseling may result in his sabotaging the counseling. If he asks you the difference between counseling and coaching, you can just give him basic information such as,
Counseling will help us deal with the emotional and practical issues that create conflict; coaching on the other hand, will teach us how to start over and reconnect with each other.
You can ask him which one sounds to him like it would be more helpful for your relationship. Again, you want him to own the idea as much as possible.
If he continues to refuse
If this method does not convince husband to go to counseling, then just let him know that you will start without him. Tell him honestly that you don’t know exactly what you will be doing in counseling or coaching, but you are sure that things will change one way or the other. This alone will make many men go to counseling because they are afraid of what will happen between you and the counselor (or coach).
Your husband’s refusal to go to counseling in no way blocks you from improving your relationship. The majority of married people that I help, start out with just one of the partners getting coaching. We work on building the communication and collaboration to the point that either couple’s coaching is not necessary (due to improvement) or to the point where their spouse joins in. Here are five free lessons to get you started improving your relationship with your husband.