To have a happy, healthy marriage, it takes work. Sometimes, it takes a lot of work. Usually, after the “honeymoon phase” ends, the reality of life sets in. When you’re married, things like job changes, unemployment, substance abuse, adultery, a lack of intimacy, money problems, spending problems, and even in-laws, children, and weight gain can all put a marriage to the test.
If your marriage has been “on the rocks for years” or if you’ve simply been unhappy, or if things have gotten so bad that you don’t want to be in the same room as your spouse, you may have fantasized about divorce a thousand times but to be the bigger person, to do the “right thing,” you wanted to try marriage counseling first.
If you approached your spouse about going to marriage counseling and their response caught you by surprise, if they came back with a flat out, “No way, I’m not going to counseling!” you may be worried about what you should do next. Should you stay or should you go? Is your spouse’s refusal to get help a sign that things are worse off than you thought? Or, does it simply mean that your spouse is happy and content and you’re overthinking things?
Why Spouses Refuse Counseling
When it comes to spouses who receive counseling, they typically fall into three categories: 1) a happy spouse who doesn’t think their marriage needs to be fixed, 2) a prideful spouse who does not want other people meddling into their personal business, or 3) a spouse who knows there’s a problem but they refuse to cooperate in making the marriage better.
The question is, which type of spouse are you dealing with? Are they happy, prideful, or uncooperative? If your spouse is the first, you have hope. If your spouse falls into category two or three and they won’t seek help, a divorce may be on the horizon.
1. The Happy Spouse
Perhaps you have a wonderful, loving spouse who is absolutely content with the marriage. They are madly in love with you and they don’t think you’re anywhere near needing counseling. If this is your situation, our question is, do you want to stay in the marriage?
If you do, perhaps the best thing to do is see a counselor by yourself and focus on self-improvement. There may be things that you can change about yourself that will make you much happier and in effect, make your marriage stronger.
How do you feel about these areas of your life? If you are not happy with any of them, would changing them make you happier and your marriage better?
- Your career
- Your education
- Your weight
- Your health
- Your job
- Your duties at home
- Your family life
- Where you live
2. The Prideful Spouse
A lot of spouses think they don’t need marriage counseling. They think, “Our problems aren’t that bad.” They think they can handle their issues without an outsider’s input, but what they fail to realize is that if their spouse is asking for counseling, he or she is hurting and that alone should be a reason to stop, listen up, and do what’s necessary to address the health of the marriage.
If your spouse refuses to go to marriage counseling even though you really want it, you can still see a counselor yourself and focus on self-improvement. If that still does not improve the underlying issuesenough to fix your marriage, try getting your spouse to counseling again. If all else fails and you’re miserable, you can always consider your other options, which may involve a divorce.
3. The Uncooperative Spouse
This is the toughest type of spouse, and if he or she refuses to listen to you and see a counselor, you’ll have to think long and hard about your marriage. As with the first two types of spouses, it’s always wise to seek help on your own even if your spouse won’t go with you to counseling sessions.
In the case of a spouse who refuses to go to marriage counseling, you’ll have to ask yourself some important questions, such as:
- Is my spouse physically or verbally abusive?
- Is my spouse loving and supportive?
- Do I love my spouse?
- Does my spouse love me?
- Is my spouse a good mother or father?
- Is my spouse kind?
- How does my spouse make me feel?
- Do we enjoy each other’s company?
- Can I live like this the rest of my life?
- Is my spouse treating me right?
- Is my spouse a good income-earner?
- Would I be happier if I filed for divorce?
- Is my spouse mistreating our children or me?
- Is my spouse being faithful to me?
No one can tell you what to do in regards to your spouse, so the right answer to the divorce question will have to come from you. If your marriage is not that broken and you can be happy without marriage counseling, then perhaps you can find other ways to strengthen your bond and get closer to each other.
Related: Divorcing Because You’re Not on the Same Page
On the other hand, if you are extremely unhappy, especially due to infidelity, domestic violence, controlling behavior, belittling, and other unhealthy behaviors that should NOT be present in a good marriage, perhaps your spouse’s refusal to go to counseling should be taken as a huge indicator that you should see a divorce attorney without delay.