You need help saving your marriage, but your husband refuses to see a counselor. These tips on how to get him to go to marriage counseling will help you move forward.
One More Try: What to Do When Your Marriage Is Falling Apart by Gary D Chapman is an excellent book to read if you know your husband will never see a marriage counselor. Chapman says that marriage problems – or even separation – does not necessarily mean divorce is imminent. Actually, separation may even lead to a restored, enriched, growing marriage. The outcome of this time of transition is determined solely by you and your husband. If you’re willing to make the most of that process, read this step-by-step book that will take you towards healing and hope for your marriage.
I love Anthony Storr’s quotation about marriage and happiness: “If we did not look to marriage as the principal source of happiness, fewer marriages would end in tears.” If you’re scared your relationship will end in tears, read How Do You Know When Your Marriage is Over?
Marriage relationships can get extremely complicated because we let things pile up and up and up, without dealing with them properly. We don’t take care of problems or solve conflicts when they come up. We let things build until they’re super-emotional and suffocating…and then we feel overwhelmed at the amount of work we have to do.
I’m a firm believer in marriage counseling; my husband and I did two pre-marital courses (one through the Catholic Church, one through a marriage mentoring program). Then, a couple years after we got married, we went to a counselor for a tune-up. That was six years ago. My husband would go to marriage counseling again if I wanted, but I don’t feel like we have issues big enough to discuss with a counselor. I’d like to go on a marriage retreat or a marriage encounter weekend.
And that’s the problem! I wrote, “I don’t feel like we have issues big enough to discuss with a counselor.” It’s the truth, but it’s a problem because those little issues that I don’t think are a big deal have the potential to become huge problems in our marriage.
How to Get Your Husband to Go to Marriage Counseling
These tips won’t work on all husbands – you need to figure out what motivates your husband to make healthy choices and to sacrifice his own comfort for the sake of the marriage. These are just a few ideas on how to encourage your husband to see that marriage counseling is a healthy choice that will give him a happier life.
Learn how counseling prevents physical and emotional health problems
“When spouses have a bad day, in a happy marriage, they’re more likely to support each other and empathize with each other,” says BYU family life researcher Rick Miller in research study that will be published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family. “That support reduces stress and helps buffer against a decline in health.”
A happy, positive marriage can sustain your physical and emotional health over the long run. Marriage problems and unresolved conflict puts you and your spouse at risk for poor health. If you have existing health conditions, such as diabetes or chronic illness, then you’re may be letting it get worse if you don’t take care of your marriage.
Will therapy help? Read 4 Signs Marriage Counseling Will Improve Your Relationship.
Happily married spouses encourage one another to stay current on doctor’s appointments, sleep better, drink less and participate in healthy activities. Previous research studies show that meaningful relationships help individuals live longer. They have a greater sense of purpose, and take fewer unhealthy risks.
“Couples that fight or argue frequently should get professional help to reduce their conflict because it is affecting their health,” says Miller. In fact, he hopes the increasing research on the importance of marriage catches the attention of policy makers. Why? He believes health insurance should cover marriage counseling because it can help shore up marriage and prevent future health problems.
Ask him for 3 reasons why he doesn’t want to go to marriage counseling
My husband recently took a layoff package from work, and we’re both a bit anxious about our future! We owe hundreds of thousands of dollars on the house, and live in a very expensive city (Vancouver, BC). But when we talked through our “fears” we realized that we have nothing to be scared of. We can handle the mortgage payments for awhile, and he can go back to bar tending (he is a geologist) if he needs to.
How does this related to getting your husband to go to marriage counseling? It’s all about talking through the reasons he doesn’t want to go, not just his reluctance. Ask if he can share three reasons he doesn’t want to go to marriage counseling. Don’t argue with his reasons; just listen. Don’t shoot him down or criticize him; just listen.
Knowing his reasons may or may not get your husband to marriage counseling, but it may open some doors in your relationship. You may learn more about him, which may change how you communicate with him.
Don’t let your husband stop you from getting counseling
I often encourage readers to go for counseling on their own if their husbands won’t go. You can gain a great deal of insight and information into your marriage even if it’s just you – and you’ll get healthier, stronger, and better able to make important decisions about your future. Plus, your husband may see the changes in you and decide he wants to take part.
Maybe the best way to get your husband to go to marriage counseling is to just start going on your own! It really depends on your husband’s personality, lifestyle, motivation, etc.
Try a marriage coach (not counselor)
Another option is online marriage coaching. It’s less expensive than marriage counseling, and doesn’t have the same stigma as sitting in front of a therapist. Mort Fertel is a marriage coach who offers free advice and a free marriage assessment – his information is just below. He offers 7 secrets to a happy marriage, which is both free and helpful.
Would this research finding – that a happy marriage makes you healthier – convince your husband to go to marriage counseling? I welcome your thoughts on marriage counseling below, but I can’t offer advice.
For more tips on couples therapy, read 4 Reasons Marriage Counseling Leads to Divorce.
Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.
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Source of the quotes and research info on marriage counseling: Happily married means a healthier ever after.