Choose a time of day when your partner is able to listen and consider your request without distractions, such as at dinner one night. Do not begin the conversation in the midst of a problem, unless there will be clear agreement that you both need help. Do not discuss problems in the bedroom, or as you are going to bed.
The day after a fight is concluded, when the emotional response is cooled but the memory of the pain of conflict is still there, is a good time to start a motivated conversation that could go like this.
You can even avoid the words “therapy”, “therapist”, “counseling” or “counselor”, which to some people imply problems, fault-finding, blame, or even mental illness (mistakenly of course!)
Avoid ultimatums and threats, which may seem to succeed in forcing them to attend, but typically create a great deal of resistance and non-cooperation that is extremely difficult to overcome. It is better to focus on the positive, rather than on the negative. Suggest that you want to attend because “there is some stuff between us that could be easier, or more problem-free”, and “make our relationship even better.” You might say “Sometimes I don’t know how to best support our relationship. Is that also true for you? I want us to learn how.”
Men in particular may have a dislike of what they imagine therapy to be, particularly if they see it as challenging their competence, shaming them, or focusing on feelings too much. Ask for their help, and give them a chance to have their input and fix the situation. You may present it as a couple tune-up, where they will learn procedures and techniques that make their life and relationship flow more smoothly and have fewer problems. Do not put on a big “sales job”, but allow them to explore our web site on their own. Afterwards, ask them and see if it makes sense for them, or what they would prefer. In addition to our service, you may provide another alternative practitioner, or offer that they can suggest their own.
Ask your partner what improvements they might want to see in the relationship. Offer the idea that getting along better means more for your partner as well as for you: perhaps more or better sex! Invite them to come and have a say.
Start by assuming they will be a hero for agreeing, rather than a disappointment for refusing. If you like, tell us when booking that your partner is reluctant, and it would be better if he or she had a “pain-free” session. Tell them that there is a no-charge introductory session, and that they are not under any obligation to return.
If necessary, tell them that you could attend on your own, but it would be so important to you to have them come along. Lastly, you can escalate that you will go alone if necessary, but you feel it is a chance for beneficial change, and you do not want to leave them behind. If you make a commitment to therapy, the relationship is bound to change, regardless of whether or not your partner participates.
Soon after you attend any individual session, find an appropriate time to tell them in a conversational way what you learned. This will keep them up to date, show them that it is not threatening, and not about you vilifying them. Especially tell them about how you are working on making the relationship better for them, giving examples of that, and asking them for their help in you doing so. If they criticize or make fun of it, do not react defensively or counterattack. Just inform them of that you are finding it helpful in making things run smoother between the two of you. And tell them they are quite welcome to come with you next time, and that would really please you.