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.