Relationship expert Jason Fierstein describes how a woman can approach her partner about her desire to engage in couple's counseling in a way that will not cause the man to feel defensive or threatened.
There’s a couple of things that you can do to warm your guy up and get him more comfortable with the process of counseling and so here is a couple of those things – the first thing is to set a safe environment by communicating with him about your own feelings, your problems with the relationship and not criticizing or judging him.
Guys are very sensitive, just like women in that way, and so when they perceive judgment or criticism or that they are doing something wrong or that they are somehow at fault or inferior in their minds, they’re not going to want to come into counseling. So not communicating those things, communicating your own experience, what your problems are in the relationship and work on a solution-oriented way to get them in because guys like to be able to fix things.
So say, “I’m having a problem in our marriage. I don’t feel like we are spending enough time together and I’d like to see us be able to have more free time together, communicate more and I think going into couple’s counseling is the way to do that, you know? Would you be able to help me and help us in our marriage? This is important to me.”
And another tip is to research it with your guy and to also let him know that this is something that is growth promoting in your marriage or relationship because I think a lot of guys feel threatened by the idea of counseling that, “Uh-oh, my relationship might end,” and I think just validating that and saying, you know, “This is something I want to work on together and it’s not that I want to leave you or I’m going to be abandoning you,” because that’s a major issue for a lot of guys.
So communicating that we are in this together, doing the research together, coming up with strategies about how to do it. And another tip is don’t have that conversation after a fight. Don’t have it during the fight because that’s going to go nowhere. When you have a fight and then you say, “Okay, I want to get into a couple’s counseling.” It doesn’t sync very well.
So I think taking the timeout, going outside of the house, going to get some Starbucks or something and sitting down and saying, “Okay, I want to communicate how important this is to me, and so we’re doing it outside of the house. We are not doing it right after a fight, and so to communicate that to you and to let you know how important this is to me I’m talking with you about it right now. So we’re not having a fight. I’m not feeling reactive to you and I’m wanting some feedback from you about how you feel about couple’s counseling.”
About Jason Fierstein, M.A., L.P.C.:
I am a State of Arizona board-licensed professional counselor practicing in Phoenix. My master’s degree is in psychology, with a counseling emphasis, and I have a post-graduate certification in Gestalt Therapy. I have been counseling a variety of different clients for nine years, and have been practicing privately for five.