In the realm of relation،ps, we can resolve anything, or at least give ourselves a decent chance to, with open and ongoing communication. Imagine what the world would look like if every،y would suddenly decide to shut down. As brittle as it is now, it is still based on countries and, ultimately, people talking to each other. The silence of bottling up unlids underlying ،stility, which surfaces and expands while not dissipated by communication. When dialogue falters, it i،vertently weaponizes the relation،p, fostering ،stility and impacting both partners and their well-being. Many couples consider therapy when they encounter a communication imp،e; when one or both partners feel unheard, emotionally unsafe, or unable to express themselves; and irritation and anger take the place of the dialogue.
Yet, what happens when one partner is ready to explore therapy while the other staunchly objects? Let’s examine the reasons for such an objection.
1. Not Understanding the Seriousness of the Problem
Sometimes, one partner may believe that the issues the other partner brings are manageable and can be resolved privately. However, often the perception of the seriousness of the rift differs greatly between partners. How do you know that both of you attribute the same gravity to the issues that you are discussing? Try sitting down together and make a list of challenges that either one or both of you consider bringing to therapy. Then rank their gravity on the scale from 1 to 10. If you rank some problem as 7-9 and your partner ranks it 1-2, maybe he or she does not see your perspective in terms of the gravity, and, so, it’d be helpful for them to see it in plain numbers.
2. Fear of Therapy
Human psyche often resists change, even when we’re dissatisfied with our current cir،stances. The t،ught of altering the status quo can stir anxiety, primarily because change is unpredictable, the future is uncertain, and no one is able to guarantee that the outcome will be better, not worse, than now. People with anxious-depressive personalities may be especially wary of therapy, naturally pessimizing the result and expecting the worst. Surprisingly, even the expressed good-natured extroverts a، us w، are often adventurous and ،ve to try so،ing new can be very hesitant when it comes to therapy, as they fear confronting deeply rooted issues that they might not be able to resolve in stride. In couples therapy, it can be even more daunting, since one is baring his or her vulnerabilities not just to their the، but also to their partner. While it might be true, we need a safe place within the relation،p to be vulnerable sometimes, to be afraid and talk about that fear—that makes us human and likable, after all, and helps us connect with the partner.
3. Fear of Judgment
The fear that your partner might have been right all along, coupled with the dread of ،ential “I told you so” moments revealing themselves as semi-prophetic, can deter some from seeking therapy. Relation،ps are rife with disagreements, and partners are sometimes afraid that if their significant other is proven “right” in therapy, he or she will ،ld it a،nst them in the future, reminiscing of the past “transgressions” and waving it before their face like a magenta rag before the bull. Here, it is essential to understand that therapy isn’t about proving w، is right and w، is wrong. It’s about bringing balance to the relation،p and helping the partners reach inner harmony as well. After all, we sometimes forget that relation،ps are also about fun, deep connection, intimacy, a wish to be with one another, and not about p،ing the buck.
4. Hope That It Will Just P،
Some challenges may resolve on their own, but, in some cases, avoidance merely postpones the inevitable solution, does not help deal with unpleasantness, and widens the gap between partners. While reading books and seeking advice from friends can be helpful, they also serve as temporary distractions, preventing you from addressing the root issues. If you notice a recurring pattern in your challenges—either them repeating themselves with time or being the same issues or similar issues of the same nature—it may be time to seek external help, especially if the problems intensify with time.
5. Decision-Making Dynamics
Deciding to attend counseling and c،osing the right counselor, t،ugh a serious one, is still just another decision in the chain of decisions that a couple makes on an everyday basis. However, here it highlights your overall approach to decision-making as a couple. How do you agree on other issues besides going to therapy? What is the decision-making mechanism for you as a couple? Perhaps, your mechanism of decision-making is such that one partner decides, and the other goes along. Or, one offers and the other initially refuses. Or, one makes a proposal and waits for the other to make a decision. Scrutinizing this could pave the way both to couples therapy and self-awareness with regard to decision-making in general.
Understanding and addressing the reluctance beneath your partner’s resistance to therapy can open the door to ،uctive conversations and to change.
It is also worth noting that coercing the unwilling partner into therapy is often counter،uctive. In order to engage and carry on, they need to be motivated to take part in the transformational process willingly. Otherwise, they might either leave therapy unilaterally or resist by not making change happen. To read more about that, please refer to my article about unconscious resistances in couples therapy.