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  • Why It’s a Bad Idea to Resist Going To Couples Therapy

    Sometimes when one partner in a relationship senses things have gotten to where the couple needs to seek professional help, the other partner is resistant. The purpose of this article is to explain why resisting is usually a bad idea and does not bode well for the relationship.

    [Read this post on Medium]

    It’s further evidence of not listening

    Often when relationships are breaking down, one or both partners aren’t feeling heard. If one partner suggests it’s time to get therapy, and the other says no it isn’t, that’s going to be seen by the partner who wants therapy as further evidence that they are being ignored, dismissed, and/or invalidated.

    When one partner has a problem in the relationship, the relationship has a problem.

    Saying no to therapy is a way of saying, “Our problems aren’t that serious. We don’t need to bring someone else in. We can do this on our own.”

    This assumes therapy is just one more thing to argue about, that disagreeing about whether you need it is like disagreeing about anything else.

    But it’s not.

    The issue when one partner is convinced therapy is necessary, and the other partner objects, is that this is evidence to the “asker” of how broken the relationship is. Is saying, “We don’t need therapy” more likely to convince that person a) the relationship is fine and help is not needed, or b) that they’re right in their assessment of how broken down it is? The answer, nearly always, is the second one.

    If you’re the partner insisting therapy isn’t necessary, please hear me:  you cannot win this. And neither can your relationship. The problem you are denying is now going to get worse, specifically because of your denial, and refusal to cooperate with your partner to make the relationship better.

    You can’t fix this yourself

    Usually when people deny therapy is necessary, they believe they can just handle the issue in-house. Unfortunately, this is almost never true. If you already had the skills to make your relationship better, you would already know you never win when you blow off something your partner feels strongly about.

    The stakes are too high to insist on getting your own way

    This isn’t just about whether you talk to a therapist or not. It’s about whether your partner feels taken seriously and heard when they tell you they are unhappy and need something important from you.

    If your partner says you should put on your seatbelt and you want to argue that, go for it. Arguments aren’t fun, but the stakes probably aren’t very high in that argument.

    But if your partner feels unhappy enough that they suggest therapy to you, your relationship is almost certainly worse off than you realize in some way. If you value your marriage, this is not a discovery you can afford to make when it’s too late.

    If things really are fine, let the professional tell you both how great things are

    Let’s say you’re right and things aren’t that bad. Let’s say the only real problem is for some ridiculous reason your partner thinks there’s a problem. Why not go with your partner to therapy and let the professional support you and help your partner see how great thing are?

    I mean, if you really believe things are fine, you have nothing to lose.

    That way you’re not resisting your partner, so you get credit for listening and being responsive, and then you have an objective third party, a professional, someone who has studied these things and carries some authority to talk to your partner.

    If you do it this way, you can’t lose.

    If you keep doing it the way you’re doing it now, you can’t win.

    And I want you to win.