My Spouse Refuses Marriage Counseling

It is not unusual for a marriage counselor to come across cases where one partner is not willing to take part in marriage counseling or couples therapy. If your partner is not willing to give marriage counseling a try, read on as we will help you cope with such a situation.

Understand Why Your Partner Objects to Marriage Counseling

Following are common reasons why partners refuse to go to couples counseling. He or she may …

  • have previously attended marriage counseling and it has not yielded any results.
  • not want to talk about their marriage issues with a stranger, even if it is a professional.
  • believe that couples counseling ends up in a breakup more often than not.
  • be afraid.
  • not want to talk about problems.
  • think that the marriage cannot be fixed.
  • think it is a waste of time.
  • not see how a third person can solve the problem.
  • be in denial about the marriage troubles.

Do Not Blame

Marriage and relationship counseling should be looked at as a step you and your partner take together to work on your relationship. If it turns into a blame game where one partner starts blaming the other for the troubles in the marriage, then it is likely your partner will refuse to participate.


Your partner may have certain misconceptions about couple’s counseling which is making him or her hesitant to attend the first session. If this is the case, you need to talk about it. A good question to find out what he or she is thinking, is to ask an open-ended question like what do you know about marriage counseling? If he or she says, “Nothing,” then you have an opportunity to provide some valuable information that might be persuasive. If the answer is one of the myths listed above, talk about that together and arm yourself with more facts.

Try Again

Before you ask, it’s important to think it through so you can ask the question in the right way. A good way to ask the question is by first stating your thoughts, then your feelings, then your wishes. For example, “I have been noticing that we are arguing more lately and going to bed angry. This worries me and scares me because I want our marriage to work. It’s important to me that we work on it. Would you be willing to consider going to a marriage counseling session with me?”

Tell your partner how your relationship has nothing to lose by attending a couple’s counseling session, and if it is effective, it could end up saving your marriage. Tell your partner about how it is about correcting toxic patterns and tendencies in the marriage, something that both of you will be working toward as a team.

Don’t make the mistake of constantly justifying or nagging your partner about attending counseling if he or she is strongly against it. Ask him or her to take your request seriously only once. Make sure he or she is aware that it is not an ultimatum, but a sincere and important request. Also, give your partner time to think about it. It’s ok to wait a few days to make a decision. This way, they will know that you respect their decision and their space.

Should You Go Alone?

Marriage or couples counseling requires the couple to be present in order to be effective. It’s important for both partners to be there, so both partners can “move toward each other” in terms of the relationship. However, if your partner continues to refuse counseling, go ahead and go by yourself.

You may not be able to fix every aspect of your marriage in individual counseling, but it can certainly help you gain some clarity on how certain behaviors may be negatively impacting your relationship. This enables you to start making the changes that are within your control.

Both couples and individual therapists can recommend exercises to improve your relationship dynamics, which you can start using even without your partner coming in to the session. There have been cases where partners who have previously refused to attend relationship counseling, have later joined their spouse after noticing how their changed behavior is improving the relationship dynamics.

Novus Relationship Counseling Center has offices that are convenient to most areas of Orange County, including Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Orange, and Fullerton. Locations are easily accessible from South Orange County, North Orange County, and Central Orange County.

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