It’s the million dollar question that can literally save millions of relationships. How to get your partner to go to couples therapy. And, one of Australia’s most qualified Sex and Relationship Experts, Isiah McKimmie may just have the answer.
“As a couple’s therapist, I’ve personally witnessed dozens of relationships saved by working through their rocky times with therapy,” Isiah explains. “But, deciding to go to therapy can be a difficult conversation, even when the benefits for your relationship are undeniable.”
Not surprisingly, it’s the women who are usually spearheading the conversation – and for good reason, they’re typically the one who is unhappy! Studies even back this up.
“According to research undertaken by Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, women are more likely to be unsatisfied in relationships than men,” explains Isiah. “They’re also more likely to request or initiate couple’s therapy – while many men feel shame, embarrassment and inadequacy when asking for help with their relationship or sex life.”
Given this, broaching the subject can be a minefield of sensitive emotions. And if you, as the initiator aren’t confident leading the ‘chat’, finding your way to the ‘Love Rekindling Office’ could be more difficult than using Apple maps.
Related: What His Kiss Is Really Saying
Now for the good news!
In this special guest post, Isiah shares her professional wisdom and tips to help you feel more empowered to broach the conversation, her advice for inviting your partner to work on your relationship with therapy – and some rebuttal to address the common concerns and objections.
So here it is: how to get your partner to go to couples therapy.
Choose an appropriate time to talk
Timing is everything – so choose wisely. While your partner is distracted or busy, during an argument or when one of you is about to go somewhere is not the ideal times to start this heavy conversation. Gently let your partner know that you’d like to talk to them about something important, and ask them when would be a good time to chat. Your partner may be surprised or concerned by the request, so make sure to reassure them everything is okay.
Begin with appreciation and positive feedback
Start the conversation by reassuring your partner that they, and your relationship, are very important to you. Let them know that your reason for suggesting therapy is simply to improve upon what you already treasure in your relationship, and give them examples of things you really appreciate. Gently remind them that this isn’t about ‘fixing’, or that anyone is doing anything ‘wrong’. Your partner needs to understand that therapy won’t be used as a forum in which to point blame. If there are specific challenges you are both aware of, let them know that you want to find a way through them, together.
Common objections to going to couples therapy
It’s highly likely that you’ll experience objections and concerns from your partner. These are some of the common concerns men have about couple’s therapy, and some ideas for how you can address them.
“Therapy is just about digging up problems—what if it actually makes things worse, or the therapist takes sides?”
Let your partner know that you understand why they could have that idea, and that it’s certainly not what you want, either. As therapists, we are there to provide practical tools and solutions to problems and recurring arguments, rather than talking endlessly about what you aren’t happy with in your relationship – and our focus is on moving you forward together. Remind them that a therapist’s job also isn’t to take sides – their job is to be objective.
“We can fix this ourselves.”
Remind your partner that while you’re both capable and intelligent people, and that if you invested enough time and did your own research you could find the solution yourselves – but you can make the process more effective and efficient by engaging professional support. You’ll then also have the certainty that you’re getting the best tools and professional advice available, and by investing fiscally in your relationship you’ll be more likely to commit to the process of repairing your relationship.
“Things aren’t really that bad, why fix what’s not broken?”
Tell your partner that while you agree that you have a pretty good relationship, but lately you’ve noticed some issues arising between you, and you’d really like to be proactive to resolve them before they get out of control.
“How much will this cost? We can’t afford extra costs right now.”
Let your partner know that you understand that money is a concern for them right now, and that while you love that they make decisions that are best for you as a couple financially -going to therapy is an investment in a healthier sex life, an investment in peace of mind and an investment in relaxing and enjoying each other’s company instead of arguing. It could save your relationship, and that is priceless. Try suggesting that the benefits, tools and skills you’ll gain will be invaluable to your relationship and your family. Try gently asking if you can look at where we can make changes to your budget so that you can do this together.
“What if this doesn’t work?”
Ask your partner to try and stay positive – and that you’re also cautious it won’t solve all your problems, but that you believe you should at least try. Remind them you understand that this is an investment of time and money without a guaranteed outcome, but what you can be certain of is that you’ll get proven, practical tools and advice that you can use for the rest of our lives. You’ll also have the peace of mind knowing that you tried everything possible to make your relationship work.
If your partner still isn’t interested in therapy, you can still make a difference to your relationship by seeking help alone. Your partner may be more willing to come to therapy once they’ve seen the changes you are able to make to the relationship as a result.
ABOUT Isiah McKimmie
Isiah McKimmie is a Couples Therapist, Sex Therapist, Sexologist and Coach who has been helping women and couples discover intimacy and lasting desire for over a decade. Compassionate, understanding and absolutely non-judgemental, she’s built her reputation on getting results.
Isiah has supported thousands of people, taught workshops to hundreds and trained other therapists on how to support people with the vital topic of sex.
One of Australia’s most qualified Sex and Relationship Experts, she holds a Masters degree in Relational Psychotherapy, a Master degree in Science in Medicine (Sexual Counselling/Psychosexual Therapy), a Post-Graduate Diploma of Sexology and a Certificate from the prestigious Institute for the Advanced Studies of Human Sexuality.