When you ask your spouse to go to marriage counseling with you, what he/she hears you saying is, “There’s something wrong with you and we need someone to fix it.”
No one wants to be fixed.
No one wants to feel like there’s something wrong with them.
So, they have two options:
1. Defend themselves and don’t admit there’s a problem
2. Crumble and admit that there’s something wrong and that he/she needs someone else to fix it for them, which is incredibly disempowering.
Here are a couple more reasons why it’s a bad idea:
The marriage counselor is placed in the role of the middleman in the relationship, and almost inevitably he or she will resonate with one partner more than the other. That leaves the other spouse feeling unheard and outnumbered.
Then, they shut down and don’t want to keep going to the sessions. The relationship continues to worsen and you either throw-in the towel because you now think you have tried everything and it didn’t work or you stay stuck in the same painful patterns together for many more years.
In marriage counseling, you’re working on the relationship that exists between you and your spouse. You’re rarely working on yourselves individually, and spend most of your time on communication and gaining a better understanding of one another.
This is important and necessary, but if you don’t start with personal growth and development for you, you won’t heal what brought you to this place. Plus if the marriage doesn’t last, you’ll take all that pain and all those unhealed wounds with you into the next relationship as baggage, because you never worked it out in marriage counseling.
What to Do Instead
Asking your spouse to go to marriage counseling with you may not be your best idea. But you need to do something, because the way it’s been going certainly hasn’t been working.
If you genuinely feel like you need help and support….get help and support.
If you feel like you need more tools to help you meet your needs and improve communication, then go to a teacher who can equip you with those insights and tools.
If you need a guide to help you find your answer for your life and your heart, hire someone who knows the way.
And of course, if your spouse needs tools and support, he/she should absolutely get that as well.
When you both feel whole, happy and emotionally healthy as individuals, the relationship between you will automatically change.
If you still want that space between you to grow and develop, then that’s a great time to go to marriage counseling together.