How do I convince my spouse to get help with our marriage?


Here is a common phone conversation we have: 

Stranger: “Do you do marriage counseling?”

Us: “Yes. We help couples with marriage. Is your spouse wanting to get help as well?”

Stranger: “Well, not really.” 

It is highly frustrating to be in a bad place in your marriage and your spouse is not willing to get any help. I would like to offer three options on how to approach the subject with your spouse. 

Do not make it about them. Make it about us. 

Normally the person that speaks up first about a marriage problem will appear to be accusing the other person of being in the wrong. This will immediately put your spouse on the defensive. They will feel as though you are tattling on them and they will not be sent to the principal’s office for their punishment. Try saying, “Honey, I know we are both frustrated and we don’t want to be where we are right now. I don’t think we know how to fix this. How about we go let someone help us?”

Do not make it about the past. Make it about the future. 

A lot of junk can quickly pile up in a relationship. The thought of digging into all of the things that have happened is an exhausting thought. One person may want to dig into the past, while the other spouse is horrified to bring up the past. Digging into the past is not the key to having a different future. The past needs to be faced at some point, but it cannot be fixed. Try saying, “When you go golfing do you ever take a mulligan? What if we give ourselves a mulligan? What if we let someone help us figure out how to build a great future for us, our kids, and our future grandchildren?”

Do not make it about their problem. Make it about the life you want to have together. 

The problem is rarely the problem. One spouse may be doing something very objectionable, and it may seem like it’s the problem in the relationship, but it is rarely that simple. Your spouse may be drinking too much, gambling, or doing drugs, but focusing on that problem will not be the pathway forward. Instead, try saying, “I don’t know about you, but I don’t like where I am as a person. I want life to be more than it is, and I fear that I am holding us back. I would love for us to sit down with someone that can help us build the life of our dreams.” 

If you are needing help with your marriage, I want to encourage you to check out this podcast recording we made. This will offer you some hope and perspective.

I hope this has been helpful. 

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Does Marriage Still Work?

Let’s begin by looking at three stats:

  • About 50% of marriages end in divorce. 
  • About 40% of first marriages end in divorce. 
  • 60-70% of second marriages end in divorce.  
  • 80% of people that get divorced are remarried within five years.

What do these statistics show us? It is interesting that the same stats can be used to draw very different conclusions. 

Some people would say that marriage does not work. I would say that we don’t know how to build a marriage. Marriage is not the problem. How we do marriage is the problem. Many things in life require work to be able to accomplish. Most human endeavors will involve failure, or end in failure. How many people experience failure in building a business, learning how to dance, or learning how to play an instrument? Do we say “Building a business no longer works?” Do we say that dancing doesn’t work anymore? Certainly not. But we tend to blame the act of marriage instead of evaluating how people act in that marriage. 

Here is what we find:

1. We don’t know how to be married.

Who teaches us how to be married? There are programs that help us with many of our endeavors, but who helps us learn how to be powerfully married? Building a marriage, just like learning to play a sport, can take much time, practice, and coaching. 

2. We blame our life problems on our spouse or our marriage.

When we become bored or discouraged about our life we look around us for an explanation. It is very common to think our marriage is the reason for our unhappiness. Our life may have become boring and dull. It is easy to look at our marriage and point the blame at it. What if my marriage is only boring because I have become boring? Marriage exposes who we really are. Our fears, our insecurities, and our selfishness will be exposed by this relationship. Human instinct is to see our marriage as the problem instead of seeing our own personal problem. 

3. We have the wrong expectations about marriage.

We want marriage to work for us, but we don’t let marriage work on us. With this wrong expectation we fight against our own marriage. We get bothered when our marriage pressures us to change. We want a marriage that makes us happy, but we don’t let marriage change us in order to find this happiness. 

Why do 80% of people get remarried within 5 years of divorce?

What does this statistic mean? Why would people marry again after going through the pain of divorce? Maybe some people are looking for financial security. Ultimately, this stat shows that people want love. You might even say we are desperate for love. I don’t see that as a human weakness. Nobody would say that someone is weak because they need food and water. Maybe the heart is made for love just as much as the body is made for food.  

If my marriage is off course, can it be brought back on course?

Realize that every marriage gets off course at some point. There is no other option. Some people believe that a marriage will be great as long as nothing goes wrong. This is not the reality. Actually, marriages become great because two people work through the problems. 

A lot of people need some support to work through the problems and build a great marriage. For the average couple, the only thing they need is some guidance and support. But most couples do not get help. Here is why:

  • We are embarrassed that we have problems.
  • We can’t afford to get any help.
  • We don’t believe that anything can help.
  • Only one person is willing to get help. 

I encourage you with one final thought. Marriage does work. We just need to do the work to build it. If we build our marriage, it will build our life. As we do the work to get our marriage back on course, it will help our entire life move forward. 

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