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Why Couples Counseling is Resisted

Feb 20, 2023

Seeking help for relationship issues is a sign of strength, not weakness. Couples who are willing to take the first step in seeking counseling may find that it is a transformative experience that can help to strengthen and deepen their relationship.

Couples counseling can be resisted for a number of reasons, including:

  1. FEAR OF VULNERABILITY: Some people may be afraid to open up and share their deepest feelings and concerns with a stranger. This can be especially true if they have been hurt in the past or if they have a hard time trusting others.

    I can certainly relate to this fear because I’m naturally skeptical. But if you’ve read or listened to any of Brene Brown’s work, a leading researcher on shame and vulnerability. She discovered vulnerability feels weak so we tend not to be vulnerable in our relationships. But do you know what is received by our partner when we are vulnerable? They see strength. So if you’re looking for a time to feel strong so you can be vulnerable I’m afraid you’re going to be waiting for a long time. Accept the fact it feels weak but remind yourself your partner is seeing a strength in you that draws them towards you.
  2. STIGMA: Seeking help for relationship problems can still be stigmatized in some cultures or communities. People may feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit they need help and worry about being judged by others.

     I’ve always loved and embraced self-improvement books and seminars but I have to admit when I actually had to work out these issues with my husband it was very hard. It was one thing to read about self-improvement when I was single and not bumping into any relational issues. But going to counseling because we couldn’t resolve our conflict felt like a sign of failure. 

    But why would I expect to have all the skills when my family of origin never modeled them for me? Why did it feel shameful to seek out a relationship expert? I’m not embarrassed about hiring a personal trainer, a career coach, or a financial expert. Yet we seem to have a hard time admitting we could use some relationship help to communicate.

    See this video here on the history of why counseling has such a stigma. Marriage Counseling Stigma

  3. DENIAL: One or both partners may deny that there are problems in the relationship or downplay the severity of the issues. They may believe that they can work things out on their own or that seeking counseling is a sign of weakness.

     If you’re married to someone who is a Minimizer, their resistance to counseling can feel very dismissive. If you don’t gain self-awareness it will always be your partner’s fault. They may sincerely think the issues are not so severe that it needs a counselor to step in or they believe common sense can get you through your issues. Unfortunately, common sense only continues behavior you think is “normal” and never applies new ways of interacting.

  4. POWER STRUGGLES: One partner may resist counseling because they fear being "ganged up on" or having the therapist take the other partner's side. They may worry that counseling will only make things worse or that they will be blamed for the problems in the relationship.

    Dr. Gottman, in his book The Science of Trust,” astutely asserts that the failure to trust tends to perpetuate itself. When we don’t trust, over time, we become less able to read other people and deficient in empathy. He states, “Some people are caught in a spiral that keeps them away from others, partly because they withdraw to avoid the potential hurt that could occur from trusting the wrong person. So they trust nobody, even the trustworthy.” 

    We believe the best way to deal with a spouse who is resistant to counseling is to model the behavior you want to see. Go on your own, invite them into a counseling session, not to participate, but to listen and see what you’re working on. It’s the best way to overcome perception with a big dose of reality…what it really looks like to be in counseling.
  5. FINANCIAL CONCERNS: Counseling can be expensive, and some couples may resist it due to concerns about the cost.

     Working on your marriage will take an investment of energy and time. Financial concerns can be a roadblock but seek out Marriage Mentors, a couple who is a decade ahead of you and represents the kind of marriage you want to have. 

    We call ourselves Marriage Mentors and have been in Couples Counseling for 20 years. We’ve taken the decades of lessons down into days for you. We’re a bit unique in that we do charge because of the number of requests we receive. What makes us unique is we can provide a transformative breakthrough for you in just 2 sessions. We’ve seen it time and time again even with couples who have gone through intensive couples counseling. We help bring back the hope and peace you might think is out of reach.

It's important to remember that seeking help for relationship problems is a sign of strength, not weakness. A skilled and experienced therapist can provide a safe and supportive environment where both partners can express themselves and work together to improve their relationship.



Learn new communication skills you can immediately apply in your marriage and some harder skills (with practice) that will transform your marriage.