How to Talk About Couples Therapy With Your Partner

Check out our top tips and video below on how to talk about couples therapy with your partner. In our last post, we shared how you can tell if you need couples therapy (and can’t do it on your own).

Although the stigma around therapy is changing, most people still feel some degree of uneasiness about asking for help. To ask for help and let someone into your relationship problems may seem extra hard to do.  So, how can you talk about couples therapy with your partner so it goes well? What if they don’t want to go? What if one or both of you are nervous about couples therapy? 

For a moment, let’s put ourselves in your partner’s shoes.

When it comes to the idea of couples counseling, your partner may experience shame, embarrassment, or fears of what it will be like, or fear of the unknown outcome. There also may be some feelings of failure if you are the one who is introducing the subject.

Try to come from a place of empathy that this might be a scary or uncomfortable experience for your partner.

While there may be things in therapy that are uncomfortable or difficult to talk about, remember the end result and goal you are looking for is, a positive change!

Although it’s not easy, there is good news:  introducing therapy to your partner does not need to be a negative experience!

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Top Tips – How to Talk About Couples Therapy in a Gentle and Non-Confrontational Way:

Tip #1:  Pick the Right Time

Do not bring up the idea of Couples Therapy in the middle of an argument.

-Conflict makes it very difficult for your partner to hear or understand your concerns when all they hear is yelling, blaming and that they are the problem that needs to be fixed.

-Don’t present a list of complaints. This can feel overwhelming and will just trigger your partner’s defenses.

Try and listen carefully to your partner’s response. Perhaps share some of your fears or concerns about counseling as well. Honesty (delivered gently) is so important.

-Once you understand the reason your partner is resistant or fearful of counseling, you can work through the issue together and decide how to move forward as a couple.

Tip #2: Share your Vision

Tell your partner what you hope to accomplish.

-Being told your partner wants couple therapy can be a scary experience for some people. Your partner might worry you intend to leave, blame them, or that you believe that the relationship is doomed. It can go a long way to share your vision. Say something like, “I want us to be so much better together.” “I hope we can get help to start communicating better.” 

Sharing your hopes and dreams for your relationship will make your talk about couples therapy feel much more comfortable and reassuring to your partner.

-Some people are concerned that therapy could actually make their relationship or marriage worse, while others feel that therapy is a stigmatizing process. Strong couples get good help for their relationship. Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is considered the most successful method of helping couples, and a large majority of couples who seek EFT improve their communication and create stronger relationships.

-Some people fear that they will be the one to blame for all of the problems and the sessions will be focused on “fixing” them. This is a common misconception that good Couples Therapists work very hard to avoid. Tell your partner you want to find a Couples Therapist you both like and feel comfortable with.

Tip #3: Use the Free Phone Consult to Talk about Couples Therapy

Set up a free phone consultation. This is something that many therapists offer, including our team of Greenwood Village Marriage Counselors here at Thrive. Call 303-513-8975, X1.

-A free phone consultation allows you and your partner (if possible) to create a connection with your therapist. 

-This gives you the opportunity to share a little of what brings you into therapy, some of your goals and ask any questions you might have.

-Phone consultations can create a sense of reassurance and increase comfort with the idea of couples therapy. It helps especially with some of the fears of the unknown. 

-It is so important to find someone you both like. We know from research this is a critical factor to the success of any therapy. This is true for couples therapy also. You want to come away feeling like this team of therapists is likeable, know what they are doing with couples and can help you achieve the relationship goals you have. 

The intention of therapy is ultimately about how to make the partnership happier, healthier and more fulfilling. So make it a collaboration and focus more on the positive changes you want to see verses the negative behaviors you want to change.

If you are looking for a Greenwood Village couples counselor or marriage counselor, call us at Thrive, 303-513-8975 today to speak to our team about how we can help you and your partner take the first step toward healing your relationship.

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Stay tuned for the next post on how to revitalize your relationship. Sign up here to be notified when it’s live. 

About the Author

Denver Tech Center Counselors specializing in Couples Therapy, Marriage Counseling, Pre-Marital Counseling, and Individual Therapy for Relationship Issues.

14 Comments

  1. Jeff

    Posted on April 15, 2016 at 1:47 am

    I always think that just getting to talk about it is one massive step towards getting a better relationship. It means at least one of the partners admits there’s a problem and are willing to work on it, which is bigger than people think. And it’s very important to stay calm, whether you are the one suggesting it or the one getting the suggestion. Anger won’t help at all.

    • Allison Rimland, LPC Says :

      Posted on April 15, 2016 at 6:41 am

      I completely agree Jeff! It is brave to talk about problems in the relationship, and avoiding them only makes them worse. That’s a great tip to think about staying calm. It’s true that attacking and defending with anger will fuel the negative cycle between a couple.

      When angry feelings do arise in spite of ourselves, delivery counts a lot too. If we can explain why something makes us angry, without all the angry behaviors, that helps. It also helps both people to talk about what else is going on because anger rarely rides alone. For example, maybe for one person there is also scared feeling because it seems their partner is sending messages that the relationship is in jeopardy, and they feel pulled to defend themselves/the relationship. Putting all that on the table can help a lot.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Baxter Abel

    Posted on November 2, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    I like what you said about putting yourself in your partners shoes when talking about couples counseling with them. I’ve always found that it helps so much when I try and put myself in my wife’s shoes when talking about hard things. I also really like what you said about sharing your vision with them about what you hope to accomplish with couples counseling. Thanks for the tips!

    • Thrive Couple and Family Counseling Says :

      Posted on November 3, 2016 at 7:40 am

      Yes, it’s so true! Asking for couples counseling can be scary for both. Simply seeing and reaching out to your partner to acknowledge that and offer reassurance can get couples off to a great start in therapy.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Baxter!

  3. Barbera Peters

    Posted on September 19, 2017 at 8:58 am

    I have been wanting to start couples therapy with my husband ever since his mother passed away last year. You mentioned that it is important to not suggest couples therapy during an argument or when complaining. That is a great point to make since bringing up therapy during conflict could show attack. Thank you for the great point that I will keep in mind as I look for a place to start therapy with him.

    • Thrive Couple and Family Counseling Says :

      Posted on September 19, 2017 at 11:44 pm

      Oh, I’m so glad you found our article Barbara, and that it was helpful to you. It is not easy to talk to your partner about entering couples counseling under any circumstances, but certainly, we can do a lot to help the conversation go better. We are always happy to be a resource to you to find a couples counselor in your area. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

  4. Steele Honda

    Posted on October 3, 2017 at 6:33 am

    I totally agree that sharing your hopes and dreams for the relationship is very important. My husband and I are going through a rough period in our lives and I have decided to get some professional help. I hope this will help us to solve this issue together!

  5. Oscar O'Malley

    Posted on October 18, 2017 at 7:34 am

    I’m so glad you mentioned how important it is to share aspirations with a spouse. My wife and I have talked about the idea of counseling, and are currently doing what we can on our own at home. Knowing the success a shared vision can have and how it can strengthen my marriage is very important to me, and I’ll be doing that soon.

  6. Kayla

    Posted on December 7, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    I agree that there may be uneasiness or embarrassment when talking about couples counseling. My sister and her husband are having frequent misunderstandings. My mom suggested going to couples counseling and shared this article with her. It says that conflict makes it very difficult for your partner to hear or understand your concerns when all they hear is yelling, blaming and that they are the problem that needs to be fixed.

    • Thrive Couple and Family Counseling Says :

      Posted on December 13, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      Glad you and your mom found it helpful Kayla. I hope your sister and husband are able to get some support! It can be so helpful to see a couples counseling specialist so couples can break out of those negative patterns and really start to communicate. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Jeremy Thompson

    Posted on January 8, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    I do love your tip to make sure that you are asking your partner to a couple’s therapy in a gentle way with proper timing and not during in the middle of an argument which could end up being more of a problem. That is simply perfect as I was just going to suggest to my sister and her husband to seek out a marriage counseling session. Their kids are already troubled enough to want to stay with us as they are consistently fighting. Hopefully, that session would help them out listen more to each other and lower their feelings of pride. Thanks!

  8. Jenna Hunter

    Posted on April 30, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    I appreciate your tips on how to get into the subject of couples therapy with your spouse. It is important to have empathy for them as well and not attack them with it. My husband and I might be in need of therapy, so I will remember your advice when I bring it up with him.

    • Thrive Couple and Family Counseling Says :

      Posted on April 30, 2018 at 5:51 pm

      Glad to hear you found it helpful Jenna. Starting couples counseling can bring up lots of feelings for both sides, so I love the idea of approaching it with empathy and connecting together around how hard it is to where you are!

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