by Wendy Bravo, LMFT
Are you considering starting couples therapy but are concerned how to discuss it with your partner? Here are 8 tips that can help your partner feel more at ease and decide to give couples therapy a try.
1. Ask gently and at a good time. Never bring up the topic of couples therapy in the middle of a fight or as an ultimatum. Find a time when you and your partner are calm (not stressed, tired or hungry) and will not be interrupted. Let him/her know how much you enjoy it when both of you are getting along and have a good time together. Let him/her know that you value your relationship and would like it to be better. Share your fears and be willing to be vulnerable. Do this in a gentle and caring way.
2. Do not blame or criticize. Focus on what you would like to improve in yourself to make the relationship better. For instance, “I would like to learn how to communicate with you better, without arguing or fighting.” Use “I” statements to focus on your feelings.
3. Explain the importance of his or her participation. If your partner participates, the therapist will learn a lot about the relationship by observing both of you together and by hearing both points of view. Your partner’s contributions to the success of therapy are valuable, even if he/she decides to go only a few times.
4. Tell him/her what to expect. A good therapist takes a neutral stance and avoids taking sides: their job is to help the relationship improve. This is an advantage over trying to solve problems by asking friends/family for advice, as relatives or friends tend to be biased. Therapy allows both of you to reach your own conclusions regarding what is best for you.
5. Ask him/her to help you choose a therapist. Here at Palo Alto Therapy you can schedule free phone consultations with one or more therapists. During the consultation your partner can ask questions and get a feel for which therapist seems like a good fit.
6. Explain that couples therapy does not have to last a long time. We utilize tools that have been shown to be effective so you can see results in a short amount of time. Depending on your situation and goals, therapy can be finished in just a few months. A lot depends on each partner’s motivation and taking responsibility for their part.
7. Explain some of the results that can be expected. Some of the areas that can be improved with couples therapy are: communication, sexual life and intimacy, friendship and connection, dealing with disagreement and anger, and overall closeness. The strength of our relationships tend to have a major impact on our overall happiness.
8. Explain that therapy is an active process. Our therapists are active and involved in maximizing your time in therapy. We assign homework and things to try in-between meetings. We give and ask for feedback. Both you and your partner will be asked to give feedback at the end of each session so your therapist knows what is working or not working and can adjust accordingly.
If your partner still will not come to therapy, don’t give up on your relationship. Remember what motivated you to seek therapy: your love for your partner and your desire to have a better, happier relationship. Go to therapy by yourself and become a better partner. Maybe after seeing your changes your partner will want to participate in therapy. And remember that if you change and learn better ways to be in the relationship, the relationship will also change for the better.
Contact us to schedule an appointment by calling 650-461-9026