When Husband Won't Go to Marriage Counseling

Updated on September 21, 2011
K.R. asks from Petersburg, IL
17 answers

I posted yesterday about husband, issues we are having, etc. Thank you for all the wonderful answers.

I have seen a marriage counselor. I made the first appointment and they got me in VERY quickly, so hubby said he couldn't go. Completely understandable as it was last minute, and I did want to go alone in a way to just really let it all out.

But after the session, I went home and hubby asked how it went. I told him fine, and that the therapist would really like for him to join us, as would I, so he is able to "tell his side of it" and really be there to join in on the discussion. I told him it was difficult for me to answer questions such as "what is the most stressful part of your husband's job" because though I think I may know, I may be wrong.

His response was" "All therapists or people who study psychology are crazy. This is a waste of time and pointless. This woman, or any therapist, it not going to miraculously cure us, do you think that is going to happen?! I do not want people meddling in my business and I am not going".

So, now what? I just continue to go and hope it helps me? I can tell you what is likely going to happen if he doesn;t go - we are likely to divorce, given all the issues and his unwillingness to address them. So, how on earth can I continue going with this despair feeling? I really need some encouragement, support and advice here moms. I am so terrified. I don't know if I have the strength to go through a divorce with him. I know he will fight me and it will take all I have in me to power through it.

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

I think I should add - he has always been against marriage counseling. He has said the same rationale for years....this is nothing new. I have requested or mentioned marriage counseling in the past and he always refused, so I just never looked into it any further. Now, I have taken the next step and gone myself.

I am so scared moms. I feel like all I have ever wanted is a nice, healthy family. I feel like that isn't going to happen for me. I am so scared for my kids.

Addition: Thanks moms. I will continue to go. I guess it is just hard for me to understand how our marraige can grow and benefit when the other party is not there.

Featured Answers


answers from La Crosse on

I have never been to one... but I know others who have. Some both go for others its the same situation as you.. the spouse refuses to go. For those that went alone, they were able to get the issues off of thier chest and get help with those feelings and was able to take home ideas on how to fix it or change things or ways of handling things when the issues arose. So yes I think it will be benifical for you to keep going. Hopefully he will have a change of heart and will want to join you at some point.

Edit My Answer
4 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Redding on

You can't change your husband but you can change yourself. Continue the therapy without him. You arent the first one to have to go to marriage counseling without an involved spouse and your therapist should know how to help you to become stronger and will give you the tools for the future to help with your decision to either stay or go.
As he sees you change and your commitment to therapy, he might change too.... ya just never know.
I do know this, you have to do EVERYTHING you can to save a failing marriage before you end it, you are doing the right thing by trying your best. If it ends in divorce at least you can rest knowing you pulled out all the stops to make it work first.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

IMHO, typically the people who resist counseling are the ones who need it the most.

If I were you I would continue to go, just so I had someone to talk to about all this. Hopefully you can come to a workable resolution that's in the best interests of your children and yourself.

Good luck.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I am sorry he's not willing to go with you. My suggestion is that even if he won't go - you continue to go. It's important for you to know how some things may impact you and how you react to them. You will gain a lot of understanding about yourself and it will help with any ill feelings you feel for him regarding him not going.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Continue to go strong mama, when you change you, you change your enviroment and sometimes the people in it. Change is always scary in the beginning but a beautiful thing!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Yes, you continue to go to counselfing and it WILL help you. You can't control your husband's choices. You can only control you own, and now and in the future you will have a lot of choices to make. You will get an objective point of view and advice from her. You will get someone who will hear you and not judge. You will become empowered and your feelings of despair will get batter. Because, that's where those feelings come from, aren't they? They come from feeling helpless, powerless, confused, hurt, rejected, invalidated, and ignored.

Go see this person and talk to her. You won't feel so powerless. You will be helping yourself, so you won't feel so helpless. You will be working through whats happening in your life and marriage and you won't feel so confused. You will know how you want to handle those other feelings and you will come to a place where you can make the best choices for yourself and your children.

Hope this helps,


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Continue to go by yourself. You do not need him there to benefit from therapy. Besides, if his heart isn't into it, or he's really against therapy there is no point in making him go.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from La Crosse on

I have never been to one... but I know others who have. Some both go for others its the same situation as you.. the spouse refuses to go. For those that went alone, they were able to get the issues off of thier chest and get help with those feelings and was able to take home ideas on how to fix it or change things or ways of handling things when the issues arose. So yes I think it will be benifical for you to keep going. Hopefully he will have a change of heart and will want to join you at some point.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Like Theresa, I'm impressed with the speed of your action! You're a woman who knows there is a problem.
Go yourself. It will give you perspective on your situation. It will reinforce what you know--that you're not crazy, you're not imagining an *issue*.
Don't expect your husband to support this. His world of denial is closing in around him now. Of course he's not going to support it! Therapy and Alanon are going to make you the kind of spouse that's able to call a spade a spade....remember, an alcoholic that's not in recovery will mostly speak in self-serving lies, excuses and denial. Therapy and support will do you a world of good in dealing with the real issue: which is not your marriage, it's his drinking. Think about it. If the drinking magically disappeared tomorrow, I'm betting 95% of your marital problems would as well. Best of luck! Way to take the bull by the horns. Never forget what *normal* looks like!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Just go on your own.
You will find the help you need.
Do not feel like this is frivolous.
This is just like a regular Doctor. If you were ill, you would keep going till you were better.

I am sending you strength and clairity.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

You will grow, you will be able to have a person who has no vested interest in the outcome to help you find what is truly the issue and how you want to work through them. You will learn what you think is...acceptable and what is totally not acceptable and a deal breaker. The therapist will help you to get in contact with your heart and then your brain. You will find that you will be able to look at some things with a different attitude and then the decisions will be much easier to make and feel good about.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I haven't read through all of the other posts, so I'm sorry if this is redundant.

If he isn't willing to address the problems in your marriage, then you don't have a marriage. You have a living arrangement, and he's made it readily clear that he doesn't care enough to try.

Sorry if that's harsh, but that's the reality.

So, file for a separation. I have a friend going through this exact same thing. Husband wouldn't go, wouldn't work on things...
He was SHOCKED when she took the next step. You need to let him know that you mean business.

Realize that you CAN'T change his behavior. Only the way that you react to it. And I understand the desire to make an effort to save things. But if the other person doesn't care to make the same effort....why do you? Do you want to spend your entire life with someone like that? Diluting yourself into "feeling better" when he never addresses anything that's wrong?

You can do better for yourself. Just find the inner strength to do it.
Best wishes mama.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Hi ST, I'd like to say I am deeply impressed you made that call and went to your visit. I know how difficult that can be. It's like saying out loud in front of a mirror, 'something's not right here and I need help'.

I also know how awkward it can be to try to explain your problems to a professional. It made me feel like a big whiner at first.

As you might imagine, my husband refused to go as well. I started lying or hiding when my next appointment was because he would make an effort to be home when I got home, drinking, of course....soooo....what'd the quack say today about your miserable husband? He'd ask.

He also tried to find ways to make it financially impossible to go.

I hope you can stay strong, keep going to your therapy.

I'll be cheering for you!


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

my hubby was the same way for a long time. then the proverbial shiz hit the fan - and we knew something had to change or our marriage would not make it through.

then he agreed to counseling - and has worked really hard to be a better dad, person, husband - but it all comes down to THEM deciding it's worthwhile - you can't force it.

Keep going - stay strong - and maybe the counselor can help you communicate better with your husband - or help you see the light and determine he is not the husband for you. that in and of itself might turn your hubby around - its scary when they realize you are calling their bluff.

good luck

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Some are nuts. I started studying psychology because it helped me understand my children better. Am I sane, probably not, am I crazy, nope. :p

A good couples therapist will never take sides. What they do is help you understand your own feelings and translate the other's feelings into the appropriate gender.

In some ways your husband is right, they cannot fix things. You have to be open to change and some of it is hard. I knew exactly where my issues came from, I knew they were not my fault, it took being pushed to the limits of my being to finally push myself to accept those facts. The best psychologist on earth could not have known what it took and honestly I think they would have broken some oath to advise me to go through what I did if they did figure it out.

Meh, I don't know the answer. You could try explaining to him that you want to understand him better and the therapist is willing to translate male for you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Yes... continue to go. Even if he won't go it will be good for you to talk to someone because they will be able to ask you questions and help guide you through problems. And they will probably be able to help you communicate more effectively with your husband. Most importantly, you'll be able to work through your own issues and make things clearer for yourself about what is best for you and your kids. If your husband doesn't want to recognize that there are problems or if he doesn't want to do anything to fix them, there isn't much you can do to change him.

Sometimes one person changing and growing in the relationship can make a difference that affects the other person and improves the relationship. Sometimes, the changes create more distance especially if the other person is unwilling to try. You are stronger than you think, and you'll find that out through therapy.

Best of luck to you, Mama.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Hey Sweet Tooth!!

I am sorry you are going through this!!!

it sucks to be in a marriage where only one person is truly working on it....I would go to the counseling myself - to get what I need out and to hopefully improve myself.

I do agree with your husband TO A POINT that some are crazy. I also agree that it is NOT a quick fix. And they aren't going to "cure" you...but they should help you COMMUNICATE better so that you can make your marriage work. Many men deny counseling because they don't "need to be fixed"...however, your husband is in denial regarding his alcohol use as well, so he will be in denial about many things...and unfortunately, the only way he can help himself is IF HE WANTS to...that's the hard part - he has to WANT to quit drinking...you can't force him...most alcoholics have to hit rock bottom before they acknowledge they have a problem (i.e. arrested for a DUI, lose their job, family, etc.)..

Since I've not walked in your shoes - I can't tell you the answer to this question - are you better off with or without him??? ONLY YOU can answer that...

In the mean time - go to counseling and include Ala-Non as well so you can UNDERSTAND the addiction and not enable him..


1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Oh sweetie..my heart breaks for you. But you are a strong woman,wife and mother. Keep going..keep going!

Men often fight having to deal with emotions...having to admit when they are wrong and need to change. They don't like being told what to do...especially by an outsider with a degree. Men need to build a trust with someone before unleashing their feelings/emotions. They find it easier to unleash frustration,anger, and find fault in anyone and everyone else.

There are some whackjob therapists out there...but many are compassionate, know their stuff and are really trying to help...and are not crazy.

Just keep going. Try to give your husbands' side of the story if asked...and tell the truth. If you are bitchy...whiney...needy...spiteful...withold affection... then own it and say it.(I am not saying you are any of those...just saying those tend to be womanly traits that dig at a husband and we need to fess up when it is the case. Witholding info from his point of view won't help address the problem.)

Don't come home and tell your husband what he needs to do. Just do what the therapist tells YOU to do. You don't even need to tell your husband the nitty gritty details. Just say the session went well. If you tell him all the stuff you unloaded to the therapist it will just piss him off. It would help him to hear that the therapist is helping you to be a better wife and mom...he needs to see that YOU need some work too and it is not all about him.

I wish you the best. I will give you this tidbit of advice that really helped me understand my husband and it is my personal marriage therapy book. It is "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands".(The title usually turns most women off from reading it...it is not a slam against women. It gives women understanding, compassion and tools for working with their man) It was like going to therapy on my own. Then my husband and I read it together and it opened alot of really healthy and helpful dialogue. We also read "The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriages" I can't say enough about how these books helped my marriage. I married a wonderful man...so helpful...thoughtful and loving. Yet...he is a man. Men are very different from women and these books have helped us become one.

Good luck and best wishes at finding a happy place within your marriage!! Fight for your marriage with all your strength.

1 mom found this helpful

Next question: Choice Between Me or Alcohol