Dear Wendy,

We’ve been going to couples counseling for a while, but my partner no longer wants to come in because he believes the therapist is “just taking our money”. I thought we were really getting somewhere but now I’m fearful we will stop going just after I thought we were making head way. What are your thoughts? How can I make him go?


Dear Defeated,

I don’t hear this often because when you are in private practice, people come in by choice. Since couples work is NOT covered under insurance (because marriage is not considered a mental illness), most therapists will not serve on their panels thereby eliminating insurance coverage as an option. My couples all pay for their sessions because they want to INVEST IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP.  This eliminates them investing in their divorce…which is NOT covered by insurance either.

In all cases though, clients choose when and how long they come to counseling. The therapist does not choose for them.  They usually direct the sessions on what is important to them and what they need to learn about themselves. No one is every forced to come to therapy unless through a court mandate.

It sounds like your partner maybe using money as a smoke screen for more deep-seeded issues. In my experience, couples miss the boat a lot when counseling is important to one and not important to the other. The healthiest couples are the ones who work together on issues that are important to both of them, come up with a plan and execute that plan together. How long it takes them to do this is up to them. The more they use excuses such as time and money, the more likely they are to slip back into old destructive patterns of behavior.  And by the way, time and money are excuses for anything we wish to avoid.

The purpose of counseling is to empower a couple to become their healthiest selves separately so that they can become healthier together or to make the decision to end the relationship in a peaceful way.   Self-efficacy is what is important. Counseling with couples can be challenging because each person has their own set of fears (one of them is probably money and scarcity) that they brought in to the marriage. It is much more difficult to work with a couple who has been married longer because whatever those fears are, they have managed to successfully hide them until the day they called. In my opinion the sooner couples come in the better. The longer they wait, the longer it takes to unravel the years of chaos and dysfunction they have learned to create.

If your partner is refusing to come in, don’t let that stop you from getting your own help and guidance, even if it is to decide whether or not to continue to have a relationship with someone who thinks so differently to you.


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