Men don’t really do therapy. Many men have a major issue with therapists. They believe they have to surrender to the therapist as the first step of therapy. After all, men take a big risk to acknowledge that they cannot fix what is causing their challenge. We are supposed to be capable of fixing all of our own issues. It’s in the unwritten “man code” after all. We fix flat tires, we mow the yard, we figure out how to get where we’re going without stopping to ask for directions. We even have a habit of telling our wives how to fix their problems before they ask. Admitting we can’t fix everything is against the code. By the way, we are surprised when our wives don’t appreciate us for giving them solutions to the things they talk about. The idea of talking and listening as an actual activity instead of a request for help is foreign to us. We want to offer solutions to our wives problems. It’s what we think we are supposed to do. Actually, we are trying to protect you. It’s just against the code to say it. You might think we’re too cheesy. Appearing cheesy is against the code too.
So maybe you have decided you and your husband need some couples counseling. When you ask your husband if he will go to see a counselor with you, it’s all about how you present it. He might need to know what’s in it for him. It sounds kind of silly doesn’t it? You see the need. You love your husband, but maybe you are at a place in your relationship where you want some deeper communication or intimacy. You are going to need to spell it out for him. So now I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about men before going to therapy. I’m a guy so I’m all about fixing things too. I’m going to tell you all you need to know about getting your man ready for therapy. This is relevant, first hand experience too. Ready? Repeat after me…
When I gave that speech to teenage girls in therapy it was quite different. It went like this…
“Boys are dumb.”
All we really need is a reason to protect you or your honor from some outside force and we will be motivated for world conquest. Remember how earlier I said that men think they have to surrender to a therapist in order to do therapy? When he thinks therapy is about him, he thinks he has to sacrifice his honor. When it’s about the two of you, it’s about him protecting your honor if he goes. But your husband may need you to help him see how going to therapy is about protection. Therapy is a process, and men have a hard time understanding a process unless it’s been numbered. This is why we like negotiating car deals. When we negotiate a good deal, there is feeling that our honor has been gratified, and we protected you from a bad car deal.
You might need to help him see the goal at the end. You may need to tell him what he gets out of therapy such as, “I know that sexuality in our relationship is important to you, but lately I feel like you are trying to fix me. I believe a counselor might be able to help us reduce our arguments. Since I agreed to give it a try for three months without therapy, I think starting with a counselor now may give us a better chance to help things in our love life. I want to try counseling once a week for three months. If things aren’t better by the end of the three months, then we will have tried both of our ideas and we can stop. If it is better, then we may have a better love life, and we can plan how to …(choose your own ending.)
By trying this approach, you will be claiming the right that you have to an equal vote in your marriage. Plus, in this example you have said that you tried his way for three months. His way didn’t fix it when you gave him the opportunity. He didn’t have a plan. (This is because guys use escape-type coping skills like sports, video games and extra work in their jobs.) We avoid the problem for as long as possible. We try to keep busy doing other things. We hope the problem will go away if we just avoid it altogether.What you are doing is trying to bring in someone with a plan to get things back on track. He will learn when he goes to the first session that the therapist does not want him to surrender his role as the husband. He will learn that the therapist actually understands how men work, and will help him take advantage of his strengths as a man in your particular relationship and situation. He will be glad that you are able to see how he is still an honorable man even if he needs a little help seeing the benefits of therapy.