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  • Caleb Birkhoff

8 Tips on How to Ask Your Partner to Start Couples Therapy

Relationships can be challenging and require a lot of hard work. No matter how much couples love each other, there will undoubtedly be conflicts and setbacks along the way. Seeking couples therapy can be an incredibly helpful tool to work through these challenges and strengthen your bond. Looking for couples therapy in San Francisco can be a powerful decision for the health, happiness, and sustainability of your relationship.

Couples counseling is often used as an encompassing term, and searching for something specific when you search for a therapist neat me can save you considerable time in consultations. You might be looking for pre-marital counseling in San Francisco, marital counseling in the Bay Area, couples counseling near me, or relationship therapy; use those phrases in your search or inquiries with therapists. However, bringing up the idea of counseling to your partner may be difficult, and you might be worried about how they will react. This not uncommon, couples therapy often elicits the idea of the end of a relationship, but most often it’s focused on strengthening partnerships (or any other constellation of relationship). Let’s explore some tips on how to ask your partner to start couples therapy in a way that is empathetic, supportive, and encouraging.

1. Why can it be nerve-wracking to tell your partner you want to try couples therapy in San Francisco?

It can be nerve wracking to tell you partner you want couples therapy because of cultural and societal narratives about what it means to go to couples therapy. Martial and couples therapy is where flailing relationships limp to for a desperate Hail Mary. Though that’s the story we hear out in the wild, it’s far from the truth. A request for couples therapy is a vulnerable one, it opens the door to potentially challenging conversations and revelations, but with so much potential for positive and sustainable change.

2. Be honest about your feelings

The first step in asking your partner to consider couples therapy is honesty, tell them the truth! Expressing your feelings and concerns in a non-judgmental way can help create space for your partner to share their thoughts as well. Let your partner know how important your relationship is to you and how you believe counseling can help strengthen and improve it. Avoid blaming or attacking your partner and instead focus on your shared relationship goals.

3. Acknowledge your partner's concerns

Your partner may be hesitant to start couples therapy for many reasons, such as fear of opening up, lack of confidence in the therapist, or not agreeing that anything is wrong in your relationship. It's essential to acknowledge and validate their concerns while also expressing your desire to work together to improve your relationship. Work together on a plan that addresses any potential barriers or concerns. Contact a couple’s counselor in San Francisco and get support from them about how to talk to your partner if they’re resistant.

4. Choose the Right Time and Place

Timing is important! The best time to bring up this conversation is not on the heels of an argument or fight, or even in the heat of the moment. The notion then is leveraged and weaponized against your partner and will likely always be associated with those big feelings and high stakes. Choose a time when you have both calmed down and feel that you can have an open and honest conversation. Also, be mindful of the setting you choose. A quiet and private setting will help create a space where your partner feels comfortable expressing their thoughts and emotions. I find it’s best to set aside time to broach the topic, to have a clear idea of what you’re wanting to achieve in couples therapy, and a way to explore how it will be mutually beneficial.

5. Goals of Couples Therapy in San Francisco

It’s important to be able to talk about the request, and follow through, as a win/win proposition. Couples therapy is rooted in communication skills, strengthening connection, and boundary setting. It can function as a safe place to explore difficult topics, that argument you just can’t seem to stop having. It’s also helpful to acknowledge that not all disagreements/arguments will be solved in any relationship, so it’s a place to learn how to disagree more gracefully and to repair these ruptures more tactfully and expediently.

6. What to do if your partner isn't open to the idea of couples therapy? Are there other options to try?

A great place to start is with individual therapy. It can offer a place to explore your own process and maybe build some skills to assertively advocate for the support that couples therapy can provide. Additionally, most therapists offer consultations for therapy, a small ask of fifteen minutes to even explore the idea can be a good place to start. There are also many great resources on communication and relationship styles from self-help to workbooks.

7. Be patient and understanding

Bringing up couples therapy is a big step, and your partner may need some time to process and consider your request. Be patient and take their response to heart, which is not the same as dropping the topic. Remember that therapy is a significant commitment and may be a scary prospect for your partner. If they are hesitant, respectfully ask them to think over and revisit the conversation when they are ready.

8. Offer support and reassurance

Starting couples therapy can be a daunting experience, and it's normal if your partner feels nervous or overwhelmed. Offering your support and reassurance can help ease some of the anxiety that they may be experiencing. Let them know that you will be there to support them throughout the process and that you both will work as a team to achieve your shared relationship goals. A nice way to achieve this is to look for a couples therapist in San Francisco together. It’s helpful to search together, it can help your partner feel connected to the process, and that you’re not in cahoots with a therapist to blame them for the issues in your relationship.

Couples Counseling can Work for You!

Bringing up the idea of couples therapy in San Francisco to your partner can be challenging, but it's an essential step to strengthening and improving your relationship. By following these tips, you can approach the conversation in a way that is empathetic, supportive, and encouraging. Remember that starting therapy is a big step, and it's essential to be patient and understanding of your partner's concerns. Working together, you can navigate the challenges of your relationship and create a stronger, healthier bond.

I hope that this list helps you feel more confident to initiate couples therapy in San Francisco. If after reading all of that, you’re still swirling with questions feel free to call me at 415-990-1452 for a free 15-minute phone consultation, and to get some questions answered. I would be happy to hear what is happening for you, what you’re looking for and provide some direction to finding the right therapist for you.

If you are seeking help with couples therapy, drugs and alcohol, life transitions, discovering yourself, or therapy for men’s issues, you can read more about how I might be able to help by clicking here!

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