Should you force your Spouse into Marriage Counselling?

Published on November 12, 2013

Are you struggle with a marriage that isn't working the way you want it too but your partner isn't as interested or motivated as you are to fix it? Do you really need to have your spouse or romantic partner attend counselling in order to make it better? The short answer is no, you do not.

In fact forcing a person who doesn’t want to go to counselling for whatever reason, is very harmful. Any good that counselling could potentially offer won’t happen because the person who doesn’t want to attend counselling will make sure that the counselling session they are forced to attend will not be successful. They’ll do this by turning up late, not speaking, looking bored or do any behavior to communicate to their spouse and the therapist they do not want to be there. 

Worse yet, many spouses who drag and force their partners into counselling have some magical thoughts as to the power of a therapist and what we can do. A therapist can only help people that want my help or at least want to explore the type of help we can offer. Therapist can provide people with information and skills and tools but they cannot force someone to pick up and use those tools or even listen to or interact with me. When a spouse forces someone into therapy, what they don’t realize is that they turn are turning the therapist into something negative, like a punishment instead of a resource.

As a practicing marriage counsellor, I receive enquiries from people asking me how they can get their spouse into counselling. They are very concerned because they know that their marriage isn’t going well and they firmly believe that they only way to make things better is if the spouse will come to counselling. Sometimes the problem with forcing someone into counselling is that the enforcing spouse may conceptualize counselling incorrectly.

marriage counselligIf you are a spouse trying to force your partner into counselling, make sure you understand how counselling works. In many cases the enforcing spouse is trying to use counselling like a mini-court of law or a moral court in which they can lay out all the horrible things their spouse is doing and have the therapist, a person of authority, agree with them that they are right, the problem is all in the partner. Usually when these type of couples show up in my office the enforcing spouse is disappointed.

Counselling is not a mini-court of law or a place where unhappy spouses come in to complain about their spouse and lay out all the things they don’t like about their spouse and then for the therapist to agree to them. Never are relationship all one person’s fault. If a relationship is not working, both parties are contributing to the unhappiness in different ways.

So if you are the spouse trying to force your partner into marriage, you need to evaluate if you are ready to look at your behavior not just your partner’s. Counselling is helping people work together more effectively and often differently than they currently are doing. It is not about picking a winner or deciding which marital partner is right and the other is wrong. You may want to educate yourself on how counselling works.

Counsellors have no power over your relationship other than what you give to them. Any professionally trained counsellor will not sit in judgment of another person. Even if they should, there is no authority or law that says you or your partner have to listen to them. Counselling is about teaching skills and tools to be better. We cannot force anyone to do anything.

If you are desperate to save your marriage but your spouse doesn’t want to attend counselling, you can do marriage counselling on your own to make things better. You have 100% control over your half of the relationship.  Our counsellor can help you understanding what choices you have over your behavior.  By doing something different and probably more effective you cannot help but create a change in your relationship. By changing how you approach your spouse and respond to what they are doing, you force a change in their reaction because you are behaving differently.

 We can also help you understand what your partner is saying to you even if they don't attend.  Don't make counselling another power struggle between you and your spouse in which you try and force someone to come when they don't want to. If you really want to make your relationship better, don't wait for your spouse to come around- we can help you.

Call us at 90307239 to learn more


Category(s):Couple Counseling, Divorce / Divorce Adjustment, Domestic Violence, Ending a relationship issues, Family Problems, Forgiveness, Marital Counseling, Men's Issues, Post Partum Depression, Pre-Marital Counseling, Sexual Problems / Sex Therapy, Trust Issues, Women's Issues

Written by:

Tammy M. Fontana, MS NCC CTRT Sex Therapist USA

Ms. Fontana is a relationship counsellor specializing in helping people with their relationships whether it is dating, marriage, parenting or with their extended family. Her clients call her approach practical and found solutions to their problems. Ms. Fontana has obtained her Master Degree in Mental Health counselling from the United States and is a USA Nationally Certified Counsellor. She is also a Certified Choice Theory Reality Therapist and is USA trained Sex Therapist.

Tammy M. Fontana, MS NCC CTRT Sex Therapist USA belongs to All in the Family Counselling Centre, PTE LTD in Singapore

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