How to Ask your Partner for Marriage Counselling
I have lost count of the number of times that one half of a couple (usually a female in a heterosexual relationship) have called me for an initial ‘Getting to Know You’ session.
They quickly understand from our discussion that marriage counselling doesn’t mean marriage failure and that their marriage or relationship can more often than not be restored and refreshed to its former glory or better than it was before.
Sadly for the now hopeful partner, they become quickly deflated when they tell their other half about the exciting opportunity to work together and the response is ‘what did you do that for’ or ‘we can’t afford marriage counselling’ or worse still ‘there’s nothing wrong with our relationship, you are just over sensitive’.
On these occasions I then receive at very apologetic message or email following up telling me that ‘he’ isn’t interested or she’s moving out.
One of the first things that Imago Couples Therapists learn is that it takes two to create a problem in a relationship and therefore it needs the same two to work on repairing the lost connection and love.
We see that it is important, vital even, that in the first instance the couple both agree that they want to have marriage counselling.
There is often a ‘dragger’ and a ‘draggee’. The dragger is the partner who realises that things will not get better by themselves and that the couple need help. The ‘draggee’ is the other half who is in complete denial that anything is wrong, or is frightened to go anywhere where feelings are going to be exposed.
As marriage counsellors we completely understand this fear! Our job is to create a safe and positive environment with no shame, no blame and no criticism. We teach the couple how to express their pain and concerns whilst keeping both parties safe.
So how do you ask your partner for marriage or relationship counselling? I find that if one partner is prepared to be just vulnerable enough to tell their partner that they accept some of the responsibility for the breakdown and they ask for ‘help’ from their partner to commit to improving things they will very often get support.
Sometimes it can be as simple as ‘I really need you to help me get things right so that I don’t hurt you so much and if we could go together to marriage counselling, I think I will be able to understand what I/we need to change’.
This is a clear and direct way of taking ownership for your part in the problem and hopefully will help your partner see that they will not be blamed by you when you go into your Imago Relationship Therapy session.
And don’t forget, asking for what you want in a relationship is important – your partner can’t read your mind!