What to do when my spouse is unwilling to try counseling

  • Strategies to start the conversation
    1. If your spouse is detail-oriented, get the details about providers, costs, appointment time
    2. Ask your spouse for input in choosing a marriage counselor
    3. Ask your spouse to agree to just one appointment
    4. If your spouse likes the facts, do your research (e.g. getting a divorce has a 50% chance of making things better; divorce can bring problems caused by financial stress, strain on family life, loss of friends, loss of retirement security)
    5. If you have children, let your spouse know how the marriage is affecting the family
  • Reluctance is normal. Your strategy is to understand reluctance rather than overcome it. But do not be passive, either. “I want to try some counseling for us …but I know you don’t like the idea, can you tell me why?” Simply re-state objections. Thank your spouse to letting you know their objections. Consider this as a start in the process and return to the conversation later.
  • If you feel stuck in a bad marriage and are suffering because of it, get some individual counseling to help you decide what to do about it. Talking over your options can help. You want to avoid threats to leave the marriage, as they are usually viewed as manipulations.