Telling your spouse or partner you want to go to couples counseling can be really tricky for some people. In fact, I often get calls from people asking this very question. They know they need help but aren’t sure how to approach their partner and they aren’t sure what to say. Here are my suggestions.
First, make it about you. Do not make it about them. Try something like this: “I am having trouble communicating with you and think I need some help in figuring this out. I think it would be great if we both went together. We could get a few tips and some new skills. What do you think?” Or: “I would love to learn how to approach you in a new way so that maybe you can hear me better. And sometimes I don’t do a good job of hearing or listening to you either. Would you be willing to go to couples counseling with me?” Or: “Honey, we know we are both really struggling right now, we have the same fights over and over. I think this is at least a 50 / 50 thing between us and I think we could use a little help here. I don’t think either one of us is to blame. How would you feel about some couples therapy to get us both back on track?”
If you make it about the other person, you are assigning blame. Nobody wants to be the bad guy. Plus, the research shows that when couples are in conflict, it is almost always a 50 / 50 deal where no one person is more at fault.
What’s best is if you can pinpoint the things you want to work on personally and name them. Perhaps you want to figure out how to be more flexible, a bit more forgiving, not running away when things get tough, learning how to control your temper, not lashing out when the dish is left in the sink (it’s never about the dish anyway).
Another option is letting your partner know that you sense this pattern that gets played out over and over again and you want to figure out how to jump out of it before it takes over again. Think of the pattern as a weapon that is wounding each of you. We can lay the weapon on the table and disarm both of you. When we know what we are dealing with (the weapon, the pattern), we can then tease it apart and put you both back on the path to success so that you can thrive in your relationship.
Ready to start working on your relationship? Call us today so we can help you and your partner get back to where you want to be.