How to Approach a Wary Partner About Pre-Marital Counseling

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What are the most common — and perhaps most offbeat — excuses you’ve heard for avoiding therapy? Often people are afraid of exacerbating existing issues or finding new ones they didn’t know about.. 

There are, of course, crisis-related reasons that lead a person or couple to pursue therapy. However, counseling can play a very positive role when it comes to addressing issues before they reach the level of crisis.

A Few General Reasons Why Some People Are Wary of Therapy

Counseling and/or therapy have the potential to help in a very wide variety of ways. Still, there are countless unique reasons why someone decides to try therapy or not. That said, the rationales for wariness often fall into a few broad categories, e.g.:

Stigma

Great strides have been made in the realm of counseling. Even so, in our society, there remains a negative stigma about mental health problems.  Since therapy is almost instantly associated with severe mental health problems, this can scare some people away from relational therapy.

Privacy

You may wish to gain insight into your psyche and find new ways to approach life, but you a) don’t want others to know and/or b) remain uncomfortable about opening up to a stranger.

Diagnosis

It does not seem natural to tell your inner thoughts or intimate relationship challenges to a stranger. Yet, the “blank slate” aspect of the therapist-client connection is quite often an advantage. Another diagnosis-related factor is the myth that once you start counseling, you’re in it forever. In truth, you and your partner remain the drivers of your help and healing.

Why is Pre-Marital Counseling Worth Exploring?

The above concerns exist with all forms of therapy — including pre-marital counseling. One partner, for example, may understandably fear others finding out. Relationships are personal and we usually like to keep things in-house, so to speak. Fortunately, there is a growing trend toward the idea of dealing with potential problems before they inevitably rear their ugly heads. Nearly half of today’s married couples tried therapy together before their wedding!

Pre-marital counseling is rarely about your state of love. Rather, it’s a preemptive step to discuss and manage your state of compatibility. You may experience love at first sight and be that couple who can finish each other’s sentences. This does not change the fact that you are two individuals with different personalities and histories who will continue to evolve as individuals.

With this in mind, one of the major goals of pre-marital counseling is to focus on your communication styles. Even during times of strong disagreement, healthy communication is the path towards healing and resolution.

How to Approach a Wary Partner About Pre-Marital Counseling

If your partner is wary about pre-marital counseling, you will indeed be calling upon your communication skills. A big part of that task will be outlining the many benefits of committing together to counseling, for example:

  • Cultivate Mutual and Individual Goals: Such goals create balance and energy for your relationship.

  • Prepare for the Inevitable Conflicts: There is no value is hoping that things will always be “like this” (read: as they are now).

  • Use Communication to Lay the Groundwork for Reconciliation: The skills you learn together now will help guide you in the future.

What If I Still Can’t Convince My Partner to Try Pre-Marital Counseling?

There is still a valuable step you can take: Come in on your own.

Individual counseling can still assist you in meeting your couple goals. You’ll learn more about yourself as a part of a partnership and find new ways to interact with your spouse. These positive changes can frequently soothe a partner’s concerns and make it more likely that they will also take a few steps toward professional guidance. In the meantime, you are doing the work to forge a healthy relationship!