How to Tell Your Partner You Want to Try Couples Therapy
Without making them think a breakup is coming
No relationship is perfect. (Remember how even the Obamas went to marriage counseling?) Even if you’re crazy about your partner, maybe their workaholic tendencies are putting a strain on the time you spend together. Maybe you disagree about how to manage and spend money. Maybe your different approaches to conflict resolution cause small issues to blow up into big arguments.
Whatever it is, a complicated relationship issue doesn’t have to be a chronic one. Think of the health of your relationship the same way you would think of your own physical health: You wouldn’t wait months to see a doctor about a throbbing ankle. You wouldn’t let years go by before doing something about a nagging stomach ache.
But when it comes to relationships, it’s all too easy to punt on issues that are causing real pain. After all, avoidance is so much easier than addressing problems head on, which involves admitting that they are problems in the first place.
Ideally, any two people in a healthy relationship would have regular checkups to keep it that way, says Emily Stone, a therapist at the Austin-based practice Just Mind Counseling. In this non-ideal world, therapy can be expensive and often carries a stigma, and most people don’t have the resources or the willingness to be that proactive. But if you are open to a “well visit,” or if tension between you and your significant other is becoming more frequent or intense, a professional can help you through it.
Therapy isn’t always an easy sell. Your partner may balk. They may insist you don’t need it. They may think of it as the death knell of your relationship. Here’s how to thoughtfully, lovingly convince them that therapy can be part of the regular care of a healthy relationship.
Don’t present therapy as a threat
An especially heated conflict or a prolonged period of tension might prompt you to finally have the conversation about counseling, but that conversation shouldn’t happen in the moment of crisis. Resist the urge to spit out the word “therapy” mid-fight. Wait to bring it up at a time when it will feel…