I can’t tell you how many women call The Couple Zone and make a new appointment for marriage counseling, only to call back and cancel before the first session.
“My husband just won’t come to counseling,” is a common reason for cancelling.
I find that many men (I admit myself included) are very wary of going to marriage counseling despite the warning signs that marriage counseling is needed. A great fear of many men is that they will be ganged-up on by two women once that counseling room door is shut.
It’s like they will be put in a torture device. Who in the heck would want to go do that? And pay for it!!!!
A part of me thinks, “Give me a break. Are these men adults or babies?” If they care, they should get over their reservations.
I have been doing marriage counseling for 20 years now. I got into this field to see couples in the first place. I can honestly say that I have had many couples come in through the years that have previously seen a different counselor for marriage counseling, and it hadn’t gone well.
“We saw another counselor for about a month,” a recent wife told me. “But she sided with me way too much. I mean, I have to admit it, if I were him I wouldn’t go back to see her either.”
Another common scene plays out like this: “Our past counselor saw me as The Problem,” the husband reported. “He called me a narcissist.” “Is this how it really happened?” I ask the wife. “Oh yeah,” she affirmed. “He told me that in private, and also told us together during the session. I couldn’t believe it. He just met us!”
Theory Matters – Do Your Homework
All counselors have been trained in certain models that guide them in the way they treat clients. And these models can vary greatly. In my opinion, if it is difficult or impossible to get your husband to agree to marriage counseling, then it is best to do your homework before seeing any counselor.
You have every right to read the counselor’s website thoroughly to find out how they view marriage and relationships. If that is not made clear on their website, that may be a warning sign in and of itself. At the Couple Zone, for example, we are very clear on how we work and view relationship distress. We have even written a book on couple’s counseling (available here on amazon.com). We lay out in plain sight how our counseling proceeds on our website.
If it’s not on a counselor’s website, call or email them and ask them questions about how they work. Ask them what theoretical models they use in couples counseling. Ask them to be specific, and tell them you want to look these models up on the Internet because you are looking into several counseling options.
Then go to the Internet and look these models up. Do they make sense to you? Do they sound blaming? Is there research support? Do they view problems in ways that match your worldview or make sense to you? Do they sound far removed from what you really think you two are struggling with?
Again, you are the consumer. You have every right to read counselors “labels” before seeing them in such a personal way as counseling.
You read the labels on foods; it’s time to start reading the labels on counselors.
Remember, the problem we are discussing here is getting your husband to agree to go to counseling in the first place. If the counselor sounds put off – move on to someone else. You’ve just saved yourself valuable time and money.
Once you find someone whom you believe fits with you and your husband’s worldview, belief system, morality, ethics etc., you have taken a good first step in being ready to reassure your husband that his fears are real, but that you have taken them to heart and done your homework with him in mind.
This can be a helpful step that encourages a wary husband to give marriage counseling a try.
For the next steps, stay tuned to my next blog entry.