When Your Spouse Won’t Go to Counseling with You

June 07, 2023

Spouse Wants a Divorce

Marriage counseling can be a very effective way to work on your relationship, but what if your spouse is not willing to attend sessions with you? 

For some, having a spouse that won’t work on the marriage becomes the perfect recipe for feeling stuck and resigning yourself to an unhappy marriage or an eventual divorce. But it doesn’t have to be. When someone tells me their spouse won’t come to counseling, my answer is always “Come alone”.

Controlling What You Can Control

Here’s the thing. No matter what your spouse chooses to do or not do, you still have the opportunity to decide how you want to show up in the relationship. You still control you. Your actions. Your reactions. Your choices. And when it comes to seeking help for your marriage, you still can make the choice to work on YOU and YOUR marriage, regardless of whether your spouse is willing to do the same. That is where your real power is.

Think of It Like a Dance

I routinely use the analogy of a dance. In a dance, each partner is responsible for their steps and how they show up on the dance floor. Sometimes the two partners are in sync with each other and the dance is flawless. But other times, they are completely out of sync and the dance looks and feels off. 

If you feel out of sync and want to change the dance, you have to be willing to change your steps. Why? Because it will change the entire dance. For both of you. By focusing on yourself and making some positive changes in you, you can shift the dynamics of your entire relationship – even without your spouse committed (yet) to counseling.

But It Feels Unfair

You may be thinking “That isn’t fair.” Your spouse may be behaving badly. There may be an ongoing affair or an unaddressed addiction. They may have abandoned you emotionally or physically. None of that is fair. 

But this isn’t about being fair or 50/50. Waiting for it to be fair or blaming your spouse will keep you stuck. This is about you doing everything you can to achieve the relationship you want. If you want to heal your relationship, then you have to be willing to shake things up. That starts with taking responsibility for your own behavior and how it may be contributing to the issues in your marriage. 

When you are willing to work on yourself and be the best version of you, you will create the optimal environment to encourage your spouse to be willing to do the same at some point too. 

Where to Start

The first step to changing the narrative of your relationship is to turn inward and take stock of your own habits, patterns, and behavior. Ask yourself:

  • “When and why do conflicts arise between me and my partner?”
  • “What is my communication style in stressful situations?” 
  • “Do I manage my own emotional responses in a way that allows me to be authentic and honest, but doesn’t add fuel to the fire?”
  • “Am I truly open to feedback about my own part in the relationship struggles?”

Once you’ve identified your triggers and tendencies, consider what changes you can make to create a more positive, supportive atmosphere for your relationship. Whether it’s practicing better self-care or setting healthy boundaries that protect you and honor the relationship, every small step counts.

Couples Counseling for One

Yes, you can do Relationship Counseling (aka Couples Counseling) by yourself.

While your spouse may not be interested in attending counseling, that doesn’t mean you have to navigate your relationship struggles alone. At The Marriage Place, we routinely work with clients who are working solo to improve or save their relationship. 

Our Marriage Counselors and Coaches are specifically trained to help you do this using a customized-to-you plan to improve your marriage by changing the only part of the equation you have the power to change… YOU.

Knowledge is power! If you want to achieve a big shift in your relationship, you’ll need to be willing to shift first and change the dynamics. Even making small changes can have a positive impact in how your spouse responds to you, as well as de-escalating conflict and creating positive change in the relationship.  

Be Kind To Yourself

I try to regularly remind my clients to be patient and kind to themselves and their partner. After all, change is hard and it takes time.

But get started! Don’t put it off and leave yourself stuck in an unhappy, unfulfilling marriage. Seriously…one step at a time and your next step is simply to call us. See if our services are a good fit for you and we can help you determine your next step.

If you’d like to try our custom guided support, let us hear from you. You can schedule a free 15-minute Discovery Call to learn more and get answers to your questions. Don’t let feeling overwhelmed or hopeless keep you stuck.


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