When your Husband Won't Go to Marriage Counseling

Every marriage goes through rough patches. While many of these are a normal part of the process of two people living together, sometimes issues cannot be resolved by the couple alone and may require the guidance of a marriage counselor. However very often the male partner is unwilling to seek professional help for various reasons and would rather go on with an unhappy marriage. If you find yourself in such a situation, here are a few things you can do.

Make another attempt

 In the past, you may have tried speaking to your husband about the need to see a marriage counselor but met with a negative response. And now you have take it for granted that there is no use in trying again. But if it has been some time, say a month, since you made the initial effort, how about trying again? For all you know, his perceptions may have changed in the time being and he may be waiting for you to ask again. Even if they haven’t, avoid making your spouse’s reluctance to deal with issues an excuse for your own inertia. It will help nobody if you keep postponing having a meaningful conversation with your spouse – the sooner you face issues troubling your marriage, the sooner you can do something about it. However when you decide to make the attempt, focus on doing something you have not done before – if you have never expressed your feelings previously, decide to do it this time. On the other hand if you find both you and your spouse engaging in the same argument over and over, decide that you will not rehash the issue and try another approach.

Determine strategies for difficult conversation

If you are planning on asking your husband another time to see a marriage counselor, first of all get a grip on the situation yourself. Focus exactly on the issues that you think are troubling your marriage and what has happened to make you think so. If necessary write down about previous instances and actions which made you feel that you need to see a marriage counselor. Decide to talk about specific events and behaviors and not feelings and perceptions. If you are having doubts about your love for your husband, make a list of all the things you love about your partner now. When you are ready yourself, set an appropriate time and place for conversation with your husband. As far as possible ensure that you will not be distracted and have a reasonable level of privacy. Don’t choose a time when your husband is tired or has other things on his mind. Talk about what is bothering you but remain non-confrontational. Don’t let the conversation turn into a blame-game with each of you accusing the other of the wrongs that he/she did in the past. Keep the focus on the topic and clarify how the problem is impacting your marriage. While emphasizing that you love your husband, express your fears about the future of your marriage. Talk about what you want in your relationship, not about what you don't want. Discuss what makes you both happy and fulfilled. Invite him to discuss solutions to the problem and as one of the solutions, bring up the possibility of marriage counselling. Try to close the conversation by agreeing to set a time frame to re-evaluate how things are going.

Face the facts

If despite the conversation, your spouse still remains reluctant to see a marriage counsellor, perhaps it is time for you to face facts. The bitter truth is that you cannot force another person to change and in this case you cannot compel your spouse to seek professional help. Perhaps he may not feel so frustrated in the marriage as to see the necessity for therapy. More likely his male ego balks at the idea of airing intimate matters before a third person and the implication that he cannot solve his own problems. Under these circumstances there is little else that you but explore options that do not require direct participation from your husband.

Let the change begin with you

Even though you have no control over your husband’s behaviour, you do have control over your own. Get to know yourself and look at your own attitudes, memories, behaviors, expectations, hopes, concerns and fears, not only in the marriage but also as an individual. Ask yourself how long you think you can stay in your marriage if things don't improve. Accept the fact that you can surely change yourself and your own reactions to your spouse’s intractable behavior. And for all you know, changing your own behavior may trigger your spouse to want to make changes.  Therefore consider going to a counselor on your own. This will not only prevent you feeling depressed or helpless but also go a long way in helping you to understand your role in the conflict in your marriage and to clarify your plans for your future.

Re-evaluate your situation

Whether or not you decide to seek professional help, finally you need to reevaluate your priorities, both as a partner and an individual. Decide which of your spouse's negative behaviors you can live with and which ones are impossible to accept. Asking yourself questions like “is this a temporary crisis or the end of your marriage”, “what is the best and worst thing that could happen if you decide to divorce” and “what is the best and worst thing that could happen if you decide to stay together” may help to make things a little clearer. Above all don’t endanger your safety or that of your dependents by remaining in a violent and abusive relationship.

In the end, there are no easy answers when your spouse doesn’t want to go to a marriage counsellor and indeed can see no reason for change. Some situations can be dealt with and other situations are deal breakers. Only you know what you can tolerate and still be true to yourself.